Harry Connick, Jr. to be Featured Musical Performer at 250th Celebration Gala

Acclaimed musician and multitalented performer Harry Connick, Jr. will headline the Perelman School’s black-tie gala at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on May 16, 2015. 

The foundation of Mr. Connick’s art is the music of his native New Orleans, which will provide the perfect soundtrack for a festive night celebrating our School. We are thrilled to welcome such a dynamic entertainer, whom you might recognize from his Grammy and Emmy award-winning recordings and for his achievements on screens large and small as well as the Broadway stage.


There’s no better time to make arrangements to re-engage with Penn Medicine. All proceeds from the gala will benefit the 250th Celebration Fund, a term fund supporting medical education at Penn Medicine. To register and purchase sponsorships and tickets for the 250th Celebration Gala, please click here.

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On Turning 250: Q&A with Arlene Bennett, M'64, Winner of the 2014 Elizabeth Kirk Rose Award

The first African-American woman to graduate from the Perelman School of Medicine, Dr. Bennett was recognized for her contributions to fostering the education and careers of women in academic medicine at December’s Women in Medicine luncheon.

Gail Morrison, M’71, FEL’76, Senior Vice Dean for Education and Director of Academic Programs, and Arlene Bennett, ED’60, M’64, at the Elizabeth Kirk Rose Women in Medicine luncheon, sponsored by the Elizabeth Blackwell Society and Penn Medicine Development and Alumni Relations

Gail Morrison, M’71, FEL’76, Senior Vice Dean for Education and Director of Academic Programs, and Arlene Bennett, ED’60, M’64, at the Elizabeth Kirk Rose Women in Medicine luncheon, sponsored by the Elizabeth Blackwell Society and Penn Medicine Development and Alumni Relations

We spoke with her as well as a few guests at the annual event.

Q: What would you like to say about becoming the School’s first African-American woman graduate?

A: As I look back, I feel impressed.  In those days, it didn’t mean anything, though.  We were too busy burning the midnight oil.  My early background played an important role in my perceptions of the world. I was born at Women’s Hospital in West Philadelphia. Until I was about 9 years old, I thought most doctors were women. I met the obstetrician Helen Dickens, GM’45, HON’82, early on and knew from then that I wanted to be a doctor. I went to the Philadelphia High School for Girls, so I never felt restricted by the gender and racial biases of the time. I joined the Air Force on the GI Bill with the intention of going to Penn and pursuing medicine. It always felt like that was what I was supposed to do. 

I was among a very supportive class. We were very close. There were only six women, but the men were very supportive. We had a good time together, studying but also attending music events. I’m thrilled that the School has maintained such a high level of support and collegiality through the years.

Now, it is a joy to see so many women, and so many women of color, among the ranks of students and recent alumni.

Q: What do you find most notable about the 250th Celebration?

A: It makes you feel unique and a very serious part of history. Even though we as alumni pursued different specialties, and had different training, there was a common theme: a thorough work-up, a thorough job. That is, people are trained comprehensively at Penn. If I send patients to Penn, I know they’re going to get the very best care. There is a tremendous tradition of excellence.

As far as the Celebration, the Jordan Center has my attention. As a member of the Medical Alumni Advisory Council, I’ve had hard hat and virtual tours and I’m just floored. It’s absolutely beautiful. It will be a very conducive place for students to study and will put them closer to research and clinical faculty. Drs. Jameson, Morrison, and Gutmann are very special leaders to have helmed such a unique facility. It’s so impressive that I’d like to be starting [medical school] again.

And, of course, I’m looking forward to the Gala in May. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the perfect place to celebrate and I’m very proud and thankful to be a part of the School’s remarkable tradition and history.

Q: What does it mean to you to receive the Elizabeth Kirk Rose, M’26, Women in Medicine Award?

Bennett 2.jpg

A: I’m highly honored. I never felt worthy of such an icon as Elizabeth Kirk Rose, or Helen Dickens for that matter. I knew Dr. Rose and her husband. Dr. Rose was very ahead of her time. She was a trailblazing pediatrician, and a gentle, kind, superlative teacher. I was also greatly influenced by Anna-Marie Chirico, an internist at HUP who also maintained a private practice. Getting to know and being mentored by such luminaries as Drs. Rose, Dickens, and Churico – just seeing them in the halls – made me feel like I was in the right place.

Three of the women I mentored, E. Cabrina Campbell, MD, and Samantha F. Butts, MD, MSCE, and Delane Casiano, MD, are here at Penn. It gives me immense pride and satisfaction to see them flourishing in their careers, particularly here.  

Cabrina and Samantha were able to be here today, and I think the tradition started by Dr. Rose will go on a while more — as long as we need and enjoy it.  

Participants Chime In
It seems 2014 guests agree:  

Zia Okocha, M’15: “It is important to me to be around people who are traditionally underrepresented in medicine — to have a space where you can feel solidarity, and feel wanted, and be able to talk in a comfortable space.”

Lauren Von Holtz, M’15, GR’15: “I went during my first year, and now that I’m graduating, I’ve found my way back because I think it’s important to get perspective at times of change. And at this stage, I’m interested in learning how to network better.”

Hillary Bogner, M’96, GM’01, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, and Director of Research Programs, FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women: “I remember these events from when I was a medical student. There’d be a panel of women representing all sorts of clinical roles. It was just great to hear their stories – they were very inspiring.

“Especially in my early years of medical school, it was encouraging to see that people graduated, did their residencies, had lives, and made it all work somehow. I found a lot of support along the way. 

“As a faculty member, I see students with such great goals and enthusiasm for what they’re doing. They are the ones who inspire me now.”

2015 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipients

The Distinguished Graduate Award (DGA) is the Perelman School’s highest honor bestowed upon alumni for outstanding service to the medical profession and society. The 2015 recipients are Patricia A. Gabow, M’69; Mehmet C. Oz, M’86, WG’86; and Robert M. Wachter, C’79, M’83.

Dr. Gabow is Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She retired in 2012 after 20 years as Chief Executive Officer of Denver Health. A national leader in hospital reform and public health care delivery, Dr. Gabow, a nephrologist by training, is a member of the Institute of Medicine as well as the Board of Trustees of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Oz is Vice-Chair and Professor at the Department of Surgery at Columbia University and Director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He is a cardiothoracic surgeon, author, and host of the nationally televised daily television program The Dr. Oz Show, which focuses on medical topics and personal health.

Dr. Wachter is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He coined the term “hospitalist” in 1996 and is generally considered the “father” of the hospitalist field, the fastest growing specialty in modern medicine. He is also a leading national expert in the area of medical errors and patient safety.

Congratulations to Drs. Gabow, Oz, and Wachter for their many impressive achievements and this well-deserved honor! 


Regional Events Calendar

Please join us for upcoming 250th cocktail receptions featuring Penn Medicine leadership discussing our historic past and exciting breakthrough advances happening now at the Perelman School of Medicine.

Dean J. Larry Jameson and Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development Rajiv Shah, M’02, GRW’05, speakers at the November Penn Medicine in DC Celebration  

Dean J. Larry Jameson and Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development Rajiv Shah, M’02, GRW’05, speakers at the November Penn Medicine in DC Celebration  

Sunday, March 1, 2015 – West Palm Beach, FL
One Watermark Place at 5 pm
For information, contact Elizabeth H. Yannes at 215-573-8764  (elyannes@upenn.edu)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – Los Angeles, CA
Home of Charles and Philomena McAndrew, M’78, PAR12 at 6 pm
For information, contact Nicole McGarry at 215-898-8302 (or mcgarryn@upenn.edu)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 – San Francisco, CA
Wharton San Francisco at 6 pm
For information, contact Nicole McGarry at
215-898-8302 (or 

Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Paradise Valley, AZ
Home of Kathy and David Guarnieri, M’84, RES’90
Time and contact information – TBD

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 – Boston, MA
Fairmont Copley Plaza at 6 pm
For information, contact Nicole McGarry at 215-898-8302 (or mcgarryn@upenn.edu)

For Medical Alumni Weekend and the 250th Gala, please click here.