Annenberg School for Communication

Endowed by Walter Annenberg, W’31, HON’66, and Leonore Annenberg, HON’85 (not pictured)
Endowed by Walter Annenberg, W’31, HON’66, and Leonore Annenberg, HON’85 (not pictured)

The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, home to one of the country’s preeminent graduate programs, is devoted to furthering our understanding of the role of communication in public life through research, education, and service. The School retains its prominence thanks to the far-reaching support of the Annenberg Foundation.

One of the most selective doctoral programs in the country, the Annenberg School allows students to design a course of study tailored to their intellectual interests and professional goals. Undergraduate communication majors at Penn also attend classes at the Annenberg School to study media institutions, communication and contemporary culture, and communication influences within a wide range of social, political, and economic contexts.

“The right to free communication carries with it the responsibility to respect the dignity of others—and this must be recognized as irreversible. Educating students to effectively communicate this message and to be of service to all people is the enduring mission of this School.”

- The Honorable Walter H. Annenberg

With strengths in health communication, political communication, culture and communication, media institutions, digital media, and global communication, the School’s faculty and students are at the vanguard of some of the most pressing issues in our society. Topics of current research are widely varied and include digital privacy, the communication dynamics of intergroup conflict, the effectiveness of pro- and anti-tobacco messaging, the communication strategies of the Islamic State, the growing political polarization in America, the use of digital media in activist movements, and much more.

Annenberg’s 83 doctoral students hail from nearly a dozen countries, forming an intellectual community inspired by Walter and Leonore Annenberg, who believed that communication education is vital to improving the human condition and ensuring a free society.

Learn more about The Annenberg School for Communication

School of Arts & Sciences

Andrea Mitchell, CW’67
Andrea Mitchell, CW’67

The Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy

Conversations about democracy and our country’s political climate are second nature to Andrea Mitchell, CW’67.  Her nearly four-decade career in journalism has taken her from the newsrooms of Philadelphia’s KYW Newsradio to the global broadcasting stages of NBC News as its Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent.  Yet, with such a demanding schedule and an incredibly visible platform, Andrea continues to make Penn a priority in her life.  In February, she completed an extraordinary 25-year tenure on the University’s Board of Trustees, and the prior year, transitioned to a new leadership role as Chair of the School of Arts and Sciences Board of Overseers.

“I love undertaking new challenges and see this as a wonderful way to give back to the University while helping advance our knowledge about what democracy, citizenship and constitutionalism mean in America today.”

– Andrea Mitchell

“What’s been most rewarding about my relationship with Penn is participating in the growth and development of the University as we expand the academic choices for our students across disciplines and deepen the cultural diversity of their experiences,” she shares.  The depth of this partnership was notably conveyed through her most recent gift to the University.

In May, Andrea and her husband, Dr. Alan Greenspan, HON’98, made a remarkable commitment to name and endow the Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship and Constitutionalism.  The Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy will fortify the Program’s mission by fostering even more dialogue on globally pressing topics of democratic participation, citizenship, and frameworks of governance.  Its conferences and workshops, as well as its fellowships and undergraduate research grants, will help to advance the interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching championed by the University.

“Since my professional life as a journalist is to better understand politics and foreign policy, this program ties together all of my interests,” Andrea notes. “This has been my passion, from my earliest days at Penn across my experiences covering presidential administrations, the State Department and Congress.”

She and her husband have gifted the University an invaluable resource at a point in history where transparency and accountability are demanded of government institutions.  The Mitchell Center is positioned to facilitate and influence the discussions that can potentially reshape global thinking around constitutions and democracy.  Andrea summarizes it best: “This was the perfect time to endow this program and help the brightest minds shed light on the challenges of citizenship at a critical time in our country.”

Learn more about the School of Arts & Sciences

School of Dental Medicine

Robert I. Schattner, D.D.S., D’48 (Deceased)
Robert I. Schattner, D.D.S., D’48 (Deceased)

Robert I. Schattner Clinic and Schattner Pavilion

Long before the improvements to the Schattner Clinic and construction of the new Schattner Pavilion were announced, the name of Robert I. Schattner, D.D.S., D’48, was already synonymous with Penn’s School of Dental Medicine.  After graduating from the School when he was just 23-years-old and later developing the pioneering oral medication, Chloraseptic, Schattner remained a spirited supporter of his alma mater up until his passing in January 2017.

His unfailing commitment and engagement as an Overseer helped to spur Penn Dental’s significant growth.  Last year, Schattner solidified his legacy at the School by funding a total renovation of the 11,520-square-foot Main Clinic, which is to be renamed the Robert I. Schattner Clinic upon completion.  His unprecedented giving will also construct the Schattner Pavilion, linking together all three of Penn Dental’s buildings.

“His generosity over the years has been extraordinary,” said Denis Kinane, the Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine. “Bob’s support will continue to greatly impact the Penn Dental experience for students, faculty, patients, and visitors for generations to come.”

“My gift to the School should be considered a thank you for giving me a start.”

- Robert Schattner

These aren’t Schattner’s first transformative gifts to Penn Dental.  In 1997, he contributed to the construction of the School’s Robert Schattner Center, now home to multiple clinics and the School’s family practice.  The two new projects bearing his name will not only dramatically enhance the western edge of campus, but will also provide modern facilities for students to continue learning and a dynamic gathering space for various public events.

“My gift to the School should be considered a thank you for giving me a start,” Schattner said last year. “Financing was needed to improve the facilities, and I decided it was time to come forward to support the renovation.”

Robert I. Schattner’s tremendous influence on the field of dentistry and the University of Pennsylvania will never be forgotten. The Schattner Center and Pavilion are fitting testaments to the life of this incredible Quaker.

Learn more about Penn Dental

Harvey E. Kroiz (pictured with daughter, Michelle Kroiz Winn, C’95)
Harvey E. Kroiz (pictured with daughter, Michelle Kroiz Winn, C’95)

The Harvey and Barbara Kroiz Fellowship in Architecture

With the acquisition of the Louis Kahn Collection in 1978, the Architectural Archives quickly gained an international reputation as one of the leading repositories of architectural drawings and records in the world. Since then, this campus treasure has welcomed thousands of visitors and researchers from around the globe eager to engage with its growing collections that now feature―in addition to Kahn―several of the twentieth century’s most significant designers. Harvey Kroiz has been a driving force behind this success nearly every step of the way. From endowing the Kahn Collection in 1982 to bolstering capital improvements and supporting exhibitions and curatorial work, Harvey has demonstrated his belief that a rich understanding of the discipline’s history can transform the future of the field.

“I have been involved for such a long time and have had the privilege to see how Penn’s architecture students have benefitted from not only the talented faculty, but from the School of Design’s incredible resources, the Archives among them,” Harvey shared. “It is amazing to see how many of our graduates have matured and grown to become international figures in the architecture community.”

“The talented faculty and graduates of PennDesign have had a tremendous impact on the architecture community throughout the School’s history, and I am proud to help the next generation of designers make their mark on the field.”

– Harvey Kroiz

This pride in the School’s graduates ultimately inspired Harvey—along with wife Barbara and daughters Michelle Kroiz Winn, C’95 and Karen Kroiz Baris, L’01—to establish the Harvey and Barbara Kroiz Fellowship to support a doctoral student whose ambitions include making a significant scholarly contribution to the disciplines of traditional or landscape architecture.

“I’ve seen how important it is to provide opportunities for the best and brightest students, especially when many of our peer universities are offering packages that cover the full cost of attendance,” Harvey said.

In addition to his involvement with the Archives, Harvey served on the School’s Board of Overseers for twenty years, stepping down in 2013. Michelle now carries on the Kroiz family’s tradition of meaningful engagement, joining the Board in 2014.

The family looks forward to the Archives’ continued influence in the architecture arena—including its leading role in the traveling exhibition Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture—as well as the impact their fellowship will have on architecture scholars in the years to come. 

“These students have tremendous futures ahead of them, and I am excited to see what they can bring to the field and to Penn,” Harvey said. “I believe in the power of supporting a culture of creativity―it moves everyone forward.”

Learn more about PennDesign

Graduate School of Education

Natalie W. Barth and Brett H. Barth, W’93
Natalie W. Barth and Brett H. Barth, W’93

Brett H. and Natalie W. Barth Scholarship Fund at the Graduate School of Education

Brett Barth, W’93, isn’t kidding when he says that “Penn is everywhere” in his life.  He and his wife, Natalie, have found that many of their closest friends, business partners, and children’s teachers have a connection to the University, which suits the Barths just perfectly.

“We love the Red and Blue, and my time at Penn was one of the most transformative experiences of my life,” Brett said. “I love returning to campus with my family, and I appreciate being able to give back to Penn and to have the opportunity to stay engaged with the University.”

“We firmly believe that access to a high quality education is one of the most important factors in determining an individual’s ability to be successful in any endeavor.”

 – Brett and Natalie Barth

A spirited volunteer for over 20 years and loyal supporter of The Penn Fund and Wharton Fund, Brett has also served as inaugural chair of the Undergraduate Financial Aid Leadership Council and recently became one of the newest Overseers at the Graduate School of Education.  His participation with these two groups helped to inspire Brett and Natalie to establish the Brett H. and Natalie W. Barth Scholarship Fund at GSE.

“After supporting undergraduate scholarships for many years, we thought that there was more that we could do,” Brett said. “We looked at a number of different opportunities, but what we found at GSE was by far the best in terms of the breadth and excellence of its research and educational programs.”

Their scholarship at GSE will be for master’s students enrolled in the Teacher Education Program (TEP). In addition to the unparalleled curriculum that has made GSE one of the most revered educational research schools in the country, TEP students receive professional mentoring and in-class teaching experiences that will mold them into the educational leaders and innovators of the future.

“I can think of no better way to make a difference in the education system than by supporting these students and training them to be teachers,” Brett said. “Affordability should not hinder access to higher education for talented students. This is especially true for careers where the economic opportunities following graduation may not be very high relative to the cost of tuition.”

Learn more about the Graduate School of Education

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Harlan M. Stone, C’80
Harlan M. Stone, C’80

Harlan M. Stone Fellowship in Computer Graphics

The School of Engineering and Applied Science has become increasingly known for its big, bold ideas and the real-world developments that spring from them.  In areas such as robotics, nanotechnology, and electric vehicles, Penn has garnered a reputation for robust creativity.  The School has been able to accomplish this partly because of Penn’s emphasis on innovation through interdisciplinary study, an emphasis noticed by alumni like Harlan Stone, C’80.

“Today’s SEAS sits at the center of the cross-disciplinary nexus on the Penn Campus,” says Harlan.  “There are such wonderful opportunities to expand the reach of Penn Engineering’s spirit beyond the traditional boundaries.”

This sentiment is key to Harlan’s philanthropy.  In previous years, his contributions to SEAS have included an animation studio and an endowed professorship in digital media design.  His latest gift—the Harlan M. Stone Fellowship in Computer Graphics—will provide funding for graduate students who utilize cutting-edge technology to integrate art and science through animation, graphics, and design.

“I am one of the people affected by this collision of art and technology, and it has made me an even more optimistic person.  I see things in a whole new light, and the students and faculty at Penn are responsible for this.”

– Harlan M. Stone

Harlan graduated from Penn with a degree in art history and now heads a manufacturing business.  Over the years, he has maintained his passion for the visual arts while cultivating his interest in engineering innovation and applied science.  He has been able to bring this inclination to his role as an Overseer at SEAS.

“Too often we expect only a narrow application of engineering education and research.   I want to see it expand,” says Harlan.  “When art and technology are joined, great things will happen.”

Staying engaged with Penn has allowed Harlan to actively demonstrate his desire to build bridges between the disciplines of art and engineering.  The School provides the perfect environment for him to bring his ideals to fruition.  “The leadership at SEAS, from Dean Kumar to the vice deans and the department chairs, is fully engaged, and aligned to expand the opportunities for students, the faculty, and their research,” he says.  “It is a dream come true.”

Learn more about the School of Engineering and Applied Science

Don Millinger, L’79, and Gary Clinton
Don Millinger, L’79, and Gary Clinton

The Clinton/Millinger Scholarship Fund

Throughout his 40-year tenure at Penn, more than half of which was spent as Dean of Students at Penn Law, Gary Clinton worked tirelessly to ensure that students had the support that they needed. He and his husband, Don Millinger L’79, have been members of the University family for decades: Don is a graduate of Penn Law, and Gary began his Penn career as a stack attendant in Biddle Law Library. “Penn shaped us, supported us, and gave us a set of colleagues, friends, values, and experiences that centered our lives,” Gary says. So it’s no surprise that even after Gary’s retirement in 2016, the couple still felt a desire to give back to the community they’ve been a part of since 1976.

“We have always been keenly interested in seeing what Penn Law students, alumni, faculty, and staff do with their lives and careers. And now, though retired, we continue to feel connected to Penn.”

- Gary Clinton & Don Millinger

They found the perfect way to do that through the Clinton/Millinger Scholarship Fund, initially established in 2016 by a group of Penn Law alumni who wanted to show their appreciation for Gary’s years of dedication. “For many potential students, the fear of a significant debt load can determine where they go to school, passing up the best possible educational experience for a lower cost and less engaging experience,” Don says. “We want to help future students make their enrollment and career decisions based on goals rather than cost.”

Clinton and Millinger plan to continue giving to the scholarship fund throughout their lives, and have also set aside a portion of their estate to support it. The couple have been proud advocates of social justice for more than 45 years, and “would like to help bring similarly committed students to Penn Law.” They are hopeful that the Clinton/Millinger Scholarship will help LGBTQ students who have overcome significant obstacles to obtain an education at the School.

Proving it’s never too early to think about making a bequest, Gary Clinton and Don Millinger say that, “Our support of financial aid gives us the satisfaction of knowing that long after we are gone, we will continue to support Penn Law students in their pursuit of justice.”

Learn more about Penn Law

Perelman School of Medicine

Jonathan D. Gray, C’92, W’92, and Mindy Basser Gray, C’92
Jonathan D. Gray, C’92, W’92, and Mindy Basser Gray, C’92

The Basser Center for BRCA

Mindy Basser Gray, C’92, and Jon Gray’s, C’92, W’92, support of research into BRCA gene mutations emerged from a place of deep emotion. After Mindy’s sister Faith died of BRCA-related ovarian cancer at the age of 44, Mindy and Jon found themselves wanting to make an impact and honor Faith’s legacy. Coming across an article written by Penn Medicine’s own Dr. Susan Domchek, coupled with the fact that the Grays are both proud Penn alumni, seemed to point them in the right direction. In 2012, the Grays established the Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. The Basser Center is the first Center solely devoted to advancing care for those affected by a BRCA gene mutation.

“Identify something you believe in that you’re passionate about, find somebody who’s a great leader, and go all in.”

- Mindy and Jon Gray

Jon describes Dr. Domchek, Executive Director of the Basser Center for BRCA, as a great leader. “She understood the science as well as the human element. She’s not only a great thinker and researcher, but a compassionate human being.” That human element was very important to the Grays when they decided to create a dedicated center for BRCA research and treatment at Penn. “Our greatest hope is that the Basser Center effectuates stratospheric progress on the path to curing and preventing BRCA-related cancers,” Mindy says, “while also providing critical counseling and clinical care.”

Now, five years after making their initial commitment, the Grays are putting their faith in Penn Medicine once again. “All of the Center’s progress is giving us a lot of confidence, and we want to reinvest and support that confidence,” Jon says. The Grays hope that their increased philanthropy will enable the Center to provide more people with what Mindy calls “the gift of awareness” in the form of early counseling and testing.

In addition to awareness, the Grays want to give future patients and their families better treatment options, an eventual vaccine to prevent BRCA-related cancer altogether, and perhaps most importantly at this stage, hope. Hope is what led the Grays to establish the Basser Center, what encouraged them to give to the Center again, and, as Jon points out, it is also the theme of the massive sculpture hanging in Penn Medicine’s Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. Entitled “Homologous Hope,” the piece is an accurate depiction of the part of the BRCA2 gene responsible for DNA repair, illustrating how a healthy cell repairs DNA that causes BRCA-related cancers. Jon says, “We hope to find a way that families don’t have to endure what ours and others have.” Mindy adds, “This is our mission, this is our passion, and we are not stopping until we find a cure.”

To learn more visit basser.org.

Learn more about the Perelman School of Medicine

Ralph F. Reynolds, W’84,  and Gail L. Reynolds
Ralph F. Reynolds, W’84, and Gail L. Reynolds

The Gail and Ralph Reynolds President’s Distinguished Professorship

Penn Nursing Overseer Ralph Reynolds, W’84, and his wife Gail know that great faculty are the foundation of a world-class university. In 2009, the couple created the Dr. Hildagarde Reynolds Term Endowed Professorship at the School of Nursing, and since then they have seen firsthand how the School’s talented faculty and students have improved health and healthcare around the world. The groundbreaking research, community and global engagement, and advancements in patient care taking place each day at Penn Nursing inspired them to recently endow their second faculty position―the Gail and Ralph Reynolds President’s Distinguished Professorship―once again investing in the educators who are shaping the field’s next generation of leaders.

“We hope our gift will give the School a powerful tool to continue to advance science and deliver solutions that lead to improvements in health and health care both locally and globally.”

 – Ralph Reynolds

“Penn Nursing can and will be at the forefront of modernizing health care globally,” Ralph said. “Endowing a Distinguished Presidential Professorship helps the School retain faculty at the top of the field, providing them the support to further research and innovation that will have large-scale impact.”

Although a Wharton graduate, Ralph was exposed to the impact of nursing from a young age.  His mother—for whom the Reynolds’ first professorship at the School is named—was an influential leader in Alabama’s nursing community. Becoming engaged with the School was a meaningful opportunity to honor his family’s connection to the profession, and has proven a rewarding way to gain a different perspective on the Penn experience.    

“My time at Penn was a transformational one for me,” Ralph shared. “The unparalleled preparation I received from my Penn education has been instrumental in my personal and professional success. Remaining active and engaged with the University is a way to keep that connection alive.”

Ralph and Gail Reynolds hope their visionary commitment to advancing bold thinking and research at the School of Nursing will help ensure that future students have an equally inspiring Penn experience―one that prepares them to meet the profession’s most critical challenges and cultivates the innovative ideas that lead to healthier communities now, and for generations to come.

Learn more about the School of Nursing

School of Social Policy & Practice

Mark S. Ostroff, W’79, and Dawn Ostroff
Mark S. Ostroff, W’79, and Dawn Ostroff

Dawn and Mark Ostroff CW2 Scholarship

The Child Well-Being and Child Welfare Specialization program (CW2) at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice was created to protect children and preserve families across the country.  In order to carry out this mission, CW2 will need to attract thoughtful and compassionate practitioners to serve as catalysts for change.  That’s where Dawn and Mark Ostroff, W’79, come in.

“We have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of children who are in need of help,” Mark said. “By establishing the Dawn and Mark Ostroff CW2 Scholarship, we are able to become advocates for these children and positively impact them and their families.”

“We want to support students who choose to enter a field that can make a huge impact in the lives of children.”

 – Mark and Dawn Ostroff

Each year, the Ostroff Scholarship will support two students enrolled in CW2. “These students will study the policy and learn the techniques necessary to ensure child safety and well-being,” Mark said. “They are being prepared to create more stability within families and better delivery of services without putting the children at risk.”

In addition to time spent in the classroom, Ostroff Scholars will have the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge in the field.  The hands-on training that they receive at various schools, child advocacy centers, and SP2’s Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research will complement their curriculum and give them the valuable experience needed to better serve their future clients.

The Ostroffs’ support of SP2 is not limited to their philanthropy.  Since 2005, Mark has provided his expertise and guidance to the School as an Overseer.  His volunteer leadership not only allows him to help steer SP2 along a path of preeminence, but also enables him to share his gratitude with his alma mater.

“Penn truly changed my life by educating me and exposing me to a world of opportunity I hadn’t known,” Mark said.  “Being an Overseer is a tremendous opportunity to give back to Penn and to support the students at SP2 who are specializing in the programs and practices that Dawn and I believe in.”

Learn more about the School of Social Policy & Practice

School of Veterinary Medicine

Frederick H. Batzold, Ph.D. and Nadine Chien, Ph.D., J.D.
Frederick H. Batzold, Ph.D. and Nadine Chien, Ph.D., J.D.

Dental Operatory Renovation Fund

When Drs. Nadine Chien and Frederick Batzold met Dr. Alexander Reiter at Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine, they had just spent several nerve-racking days with their dog, Rocky. Their one-year-old golden retriever had been kicked in the head by a colt, making it painful to open his mouth. The local vet’s reset of his jaw did not help. Once it became clear that the situation was not improving, the couple made the trip from Maryland to Philadelphia. Dr. Reiter, Head of the Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service at Penn Vet, determined that Rocky was suffering from a rare autoimmune disease called masticatory myositis, which was triggered by his injury. The specialist developed a personalized treatment plan, and Rocky’s condition was stabilized. Now, 12 years later, Rocky, his sister Zoe, and their owners gladly return at least once a year for check-ups with Dr. Reiter and his colleagues in internal medicine.

“Penn Vet is a valuable resource for anyone who cares about pets, and it deserves all of our support.”

– Nadine Chien and Frederick Batzold

The couple cannot say enough about the care their beloved dog has received. “The expertise of the Penn Vet dental staff is unparalleled,” they shared. “Their caring approach and their ability to relate to the pets they serve is self-evident.”

Through their experience with Rocky, Drs. Chien and Batzold saw firsthand the importance of Penn Vet’s specialized clinical services. Their gratitude inspired them to donate funds to meet the needs of the dental team. Their latest gift will help provide the much-needed renovations of the Dentistry and Oral Surgery Suite, where Dr. Reiter initially confirmed Rocky’s diagnosis via a biopsy. “We will always be so grateful to Dr. Reiter and Penn Vet for saving Rocky. Thanks to them, he has lived a full and happy life.”

Learn more about the School of Veterinary Medicine

William S. Spears, WG’67
William S. Spears, WG’67

The Wharton Fund

Much has changed in the 50 years since Dr. William Spears, WG’67, received his MBA from what was then known as the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. At that time, Dr. Spears recalls, “the global economy wasn’t in the lexicon, and PE stood for physical education.” In addition, neither Wharton nor the MBA was familiar to many in Texas, where he grew up, or Oklahoma, where he received his undergraduate degree. In what he calls a moment of “real irony,” his primary inspiration to attend the School was the positive experience of his mentee in the U.S. Army, a recent Wharton MBA graduate. When Dr. Spears ultimately enrolled at Wharton, it exceeded his expectations. “I think overall my time at the Wharton School gave me an incredible level of self-confidence. I felt like I had received a world-class business education.”

“The Wharton School opened my eyes to the world of business and to the world at large. I realized the transformational effects of education and felt it was appropriate to give back.”

- William S. Spears

Dr. Spears credits his Wharton experience with motivating him to dedicate his life to furthering business education. To that end, he has been a steadfast donor to The Wharton Fund since 1977 and served on the School’s Graduate Executive Board for nearly a decade. He calls his volunteer experience “the second greatest gift that I’ve gotten from the Wharton School” and particularly appreciated the chance to get to know his fellow alumni and Wharton’s leadership, including current Dean Geoffrey Garrett.

Dr. Spears’ Board service allowed him to witness the rapid evolution of business education first-hand. It would be easy, he speculates, for a 1967 graduate like himself to be unaware of changes like Wharton’s cohort system or the growing importance of entrepreneurship to the School. However, thanks to his involvement on campus and his lifelong love of learning, he has remained informed about new developments and has been an active participant in the School’s progress. “It’s an opportunity to invest in the students, both current and future,” he shares. “There’s nothing I’m more proud of than to say to people that I’m a Wharton grad. And today, even more so than 50 years ago, that’s a real differentiator.”

Learn more about the Wharton School

Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Marla Weinstein Wasserman, C’90, L’93, PAR’20
Marla Weinstein Wasserman, C’90, L’93, PAR’20

Annenberg Center Annual Giving Fund

When Marla Wasserman, C’90, L’93, PAR’20, began exploring ways to become more involved at Penn a few years ago, the Board of Overseers at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts proved to be a natural fit. “Having been an English major undergrad, I have always loved the written and spoken word. I am a regular theater-goer, and enjoy going to concerts, dance and comedy shows.” Despite this interest, however, Marla rarely attended performances at the Annenberg Center during the seven years she was a student at Penn. Through her giving to the Annenberg Center Annual Giving Fund and her work as an Overseer, she hopes to encourage today’s students to take better advantage of its offerings. “One of my reasons for becoming involved at the Annenberg Center is to work towards increasing the vibrancy of, and access to, the arts on campus,” Marla says. “I want to see the Annenberg Center bring in programming that attracts more students so that despite their already busy, over-extended lives, they will choose to expose themselves to the arts.”

“Penn is among the most prestigious universities in the world and produces some of the best thinkers. But, as Albert Einstein said, ‘Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.’”

- Marla Weinstein Wasserman

Marla views the arts as an essential part of a well-rounded education. This integration is mirrored in her own ongoing connection with the University, which in addition to the Annenberg Center includes The Penn Fund Executive Board, her undergraduate class’ Gift Committee, the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women and gifts to Penn Nursing and the Law School. A true University citizen, she views her philanthropy and volunteer engagement as a kind of homecoming. “I feel as if I literally grew up at Penn,” she shared. “Being involved not only allows me to give back to a place that I care so much about, but I truly get back as much as I give. I get to come back to campus often, work with amazing, dynamic peers, reconnect with old friends and make new ones—and even get to grab a cheesesteak now and again.”

Learn more about the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Athletics and Recreation

David S. Pottruck C’70, WG’72 Benjamin A. Breier C’93, W’93
David S. Pottruck C’70, WG’72 Benjamin A. Breier C’93, W’93

Penn Athletics Wharton Leadership Academy

Penn Athletics Overseers David Pottruck C’70, WG’72, and Benjamin Breier C’93, W’93, want to ensure that Penn’s varsity student-athletes are prepared to face the 21st century challenges of the business world. To achieve this visionary goal, Dave established the Penn Athletics Wharton Leadership Academy, and Ben, through his company Kindred Healthcare, became a founding partner. This co-curricular partnership between Penn Athletics and Wharton’s Leadership Program is designed to maximize varsity student-athletes development through leadership, character, and service programming that will position them for success in their careers after college.

“We believe student-athletes at great institutions like Penn have innate leadership skills that can’t necessarily be taught, but are critical to management success. We want them to continue being the impact players who raise the performance of their teams and organizations after they graduate.”

– Ben Breier and Dave Pottruck

“Sporting competition is a wonderful cauldron for learning life lessons,” Dave shares.  “I wanted to be sure we had the focus and the resources in Penn Athletics to graduate men and women prepared to lead in all walks of life after Penn.”

Ben’s views coincide with Dave’s perspective and further explain what each of them would like to see the Academy’s participants gain from the program:

“We hope varsity student-athletes will develop a pathway of understanding around how to take the incredible raw materials many of them were born with, and connect those dots to practical applications in the real business world.”

Camaraderie, sportsmanship, and personal commitment contribute to building an individual’s work ethic, and both student-athletes and their coaches will benefit from the Academy’s programming.  “This is a chance to prepare our coaches to have a much larger lifelong impact on our student-athletes and prepare these athletes to use their Penn experiences to be leaders who impact everything around them,” Dave notes.  That kind of impact is something that Ben anticipates will yield great returns: “Investing in student-athletes in general is one of my long-standing commitments.  I hope to help attract and retain many additional members of Penn’s varsity student-athletes for years to come.”

Leading by example, communicating well, and showing poise in pressure situations are key attributes of successful business people.  Dave Pottruck and Ben Breier are confident that these characteristics abound among Penn student-athletes.

Learn more about Penn Athletics

Institute of Contemporary Art

Andie LaPorte, NU’69, with LaPorte Curator, Kate Kraczon
Andie LaPorte, NU’69, with LaPorte Curator, Kate Kraczon

The Andrea B. Laporte Curatorship at the Institute of Contemporary Art

Today Andrea Laporte, NU’69, is a lover and supporter of the arts, but this was not always the case.  In fact, she notes that she received little exposure to art as a child.  That all changed during her time at Penn, when she took a year of art history that was “eye-opening and truly life changing.”  Since then, her affinity for art has continued to grow, expressing itself in various ways, including her volunteer work on the Board of Overseers at the Institute of Contemporary Art, where she served as chair for almost six years.  The Laporte Curatorship will enable the ICA to continue providing audiences with cutting-edge art experiences.

“The ICA has been one of the true gems on the Penn campus for over 50 years…and Penn’s current emphasis on arts and culture has helped the ICA become even more visible.”

– Andie Laporte

“It was important for me to endow a curatorship at the ICA as a public endorsement of the work going on there,” she says. “I am thrilled that Kate Kraczon is the current holder of this curatorship, as I am a huge fan of her work and her ability to convey art concepts to a varied audience.”

As a University Trustee, Andie knows that the benefit of an endowment such as this is a vital one.  “An endowed curatorship also helps the finances of the ICA,” she notes. “Free admittance is a basic philosophy of the ICA, but being free makes donated funds all that more important.”

Another recipient of Andie’s philanthropy is the School of Nursing, where she currently serves as Overseer chair.  Her generosity is not solely motivated by her long association with the School, but also because she holds a strong belief in the connection between art and health.  “As a graduate of Penn’s School of Nursing, I have long felt that wellness encompasses more than just physical health, but also emotional well-being,” she says.  Staying involved with Penn has given Andie the opportunity to pursue both of these passions while impacting people’s lives in many ways.

Learn more about the Institute of Contemporary Art

Simone Betchen, M.D., C’95, and Steven Marks
Simone Betchen, M.D., C’95, and Steven Marks

Herbert Grossinger and Maury Betchen Memorial Fund for Neurodegenerative Disease Research

When Simone Betchen, C’95, and her husband Steven Marks started thinking about increasing their giving to Penn, one area stood above the rest—the Libraries.  That might come as a surprise, given Simone’s work as a neurosurgeon.  However, Simone approaches her drive to advance neurological research and care from a much broader perspective. She hopes that by supporting information resources that are accessible to the entire Penn community, her family’s contributions will inspire cross-disciplinary collaboration.  The Herbert Grossinger and Maury Betchen Memorial Fund for Neurodegenerative Disease Research provides acquisitions in the biomedical sciences, particularly those pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

“We believe that finding a solution to this diverse and complex set of problems will have to be an interdisciplinary and collaborative effort,” says Simone.  “Having the material available to all students at Penn could spark interest or ideas from any area of the University.”  The couple’s thinking is in keeping with the University’s multidisciplinary approach to innovation, which brings students and professors from different disciplines together to integrate knowledge and gain new understandings of the issues facing our world.

“Starting this fund has given us a more concrete method to help the students in a traceable way, to not only support Penn but to address an issue to which I feel a personal connection.”

- Simone Betchen

Simone and Steven believe that, since the Libraries are used by virtually the entire student body and strive to make their resources as accessible as possible, they are well-positioned to help bring about meaningful results in neurodegenerative research.   “Perhaps early exposure to these issues as an engineering or humanities major will light an idea that leads to treatment, prevention, or even a cure for one of these devastating problems,” Simone says.

Penn has remained a part of Simone’s life since she graduated.  She volunteers in the Alumni Interview Program for University applicants, reads the Gazette regularly, and returns to campus for Alumni Weekend.  She and her husband even got married at the Penn Museum.  “Penn continues to give back to me by way of the education that prepared me for medical school.  I also met many of my closest friends during those years who support me to this day.”  Simone and Steven continue to give back to Penn as well, contributing not only to the University they love, but also to issues like Alzheimer’s research that affect the world at large. 

Learn more about Penn Libraries

Lehman Kapp, Jr. (Deceased)
Lehman Kapp, Jr. (Deceased)

Morris Arboretum Historic Preservation Endowment and Equipment Replacement Endowment

Sometimes Penn makes an impact in unexpected ways, and sometimes people impact Penn in similar fashion. Lehman Kapp’s story is true in both cases. When Lehman (known as Kapp to his friends) retired from teaching high school math and coaching track, he dove into his hobbies. He loved building model trains, bicycling, photographing, and gardening. But most of all, he loved to birdwatch.

When he wasn’t taking classes through the Morris Arboretum’s Continuing Education Program or buying plants at the annual sale, he was making birdwatching trips to surrounding states in the Arboretum’s old 11-passenger van. In everything he did, Kapp was known for his humor and friendliness. “Kapp enjoyed people…whether it was a morning bird walk, an all-day trip, or a weekend excursion, by the end of the day, Kapp knew everyone,” says Ruth Pfeffer, the Arboretum’s birding instructor.

Kapp’s good nature and love of learning weren’t the only ways in which he had an impact. When he passed away in December of 2015, the staff at the Arboretum were stunned. They were even more surprised to learn that he’d made provisions in his will for a generous contribution to be made to the Arboretum from his estate.

Much of Kapp’s gift was added to the Arboretum’s Historic Preservation Endowment, which provides resources to maintain and protect the historic buildings, fountains, and the gardens that he loved. In June 2017, the Arboretum held a bird walk in his memory, which attracted current birding students and many of Kapp’s friends and colleagues. An inscribed stone will also be placed in the garden. Fittingly, a small portion of his gift was set aside for the purchase of a much-needed new van.

For a person who had logged hundreds of hours on many a birding adventure, a more comfortable vehicle to ride in is something that would have made Lehman Kapp very happy.

Learn more about the Morris Arboretum

Dr. Eric J. Schoenberg, GEN’93, WG’93
Dr. Eric J. Schoenberg, GEN’93, WG’93

Building Transformation Renovation and New Galleries Project

Dr. Eric Schoenberg, GEN’93, WG’93, has a bond with the Penn Museum that transcends his personal philanthropy.  His desire to fully unpack questions around human behavior drives his work as a research psychologist, and his investigations align with the Museum’s mission to transform understanding of the human experience.

“I use laboratory experiments to illuminate aspects of human behavior and greatly value the complementary perspectives offered by the Museum on the evolution of human biology and cultures,” Eric explains.  “I also value the Museum’s efforts to improve our understanding of and appreciation for the world’s diverse cultural traditions.”

While Eric’s career nurtures his passion for these topics, his interest was first piqued at home.  Eric’s father, Lawrence J. Schoenberg C’53, WG’57, amassed a private manuscript collection; some of which are featured in the Penn Museum’s current exhibition, Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq.  “One important lesson I learned from my father’s collection, which focused on the development and diffusion of practical knowledge, is the central role that interaction between cultures has played in the incredible growth of human knowledge and understanding,” Eric shares.

“I strongly believe that in order to understand where we are going as a species, we need to understand where we’ve been.”

– Eric Schoenberg

Presenting these interactions in new and engaging ways remains one of the Penn Museum’s highest priorities, and Eric’s leadership on its Board of Overseers contributes to its ability to meet this goal.  Likewise, his gift to the Building Transformation Renovation and New Galleries project has helped to fuel the Museum’s progress.

“While Penn Museum’s deep and storied history offers many positives, the need to maintain and update its exquisite building and physical plant is challenging,” Eric notes.  “This renovation project will modernize the way collections are displayed, and I am proud to have made a small contribution to its success.”

It is quite apparent that Dr. Eric Schoenberg exemplifies the spirit of Penn’s founder, Benjamin Franklin, as a scholar, researcher, philanthropist, and scientist.  Eric’s partnership with the Penn Museum deepens his family’s legacy and advances the developments that make the Museum world-renowned.

Learn more about Penn Museum