By Sam Koch ’11, Editor Emerita

Updated Apr. 25, 2011 at 9:30 p.m.

Late this morning, Saint Joseph’s University announced that John Smithson, ’68, will be the university’s interim president.

The news was announced on the university’s Facebook page  and Twitter account at 11 a.m. Smithson currently serves as Senior Vice President of Saint Joseph’s University, a position that was created in February 2010.

The decision to appoint Smithson as interim president came at the heels of news that Joseph O’Keefe, S.J., would be unable to assume the presidency at Saint Joseph’s University this spring. An open forum for students with Board of Trustees Secretary Lynn McKee, ’83, took place on Apr. 7. The status of the university’s presidential search—as well as what the community wanted from an interim—was discussed at the forum.

Smithson’s resume includes a number of positions, including president, CEO, and chairman at the Pennsylvania’s Manufacturer’s Association from 1981 until 2003. Smithson has also served as vice chairman and a trustee on Saint Joseph’s University’s Board of Trustees, positions he left in 2007.

Sarah Quinn, vice president in the Office of the President, said she did not have any comment on the issue since the office was not part of the selection process. Quinn did say that the decision to appoint Smithson came after the Board’s Apr. 19th meeting.

A statement concerning Smithson’s new role was released by University Communications earlier this afternoon.

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Photos & Summary by Sam Koch, ’11

The Class of 2014 was greeted on Hawk Hill by professional staff members from Public Safety, the Office of Residence Life, Office of Admissions, and other departments on campus. They also got some face-to-face time with Saint Joseph’s University President Timothy Lannon, S.J., who spent about an hour giving out water to freshmen moving into LaFarge, Sourin, Quirk, and Tara Halls.

Also on campus was a pop-up Wal-Mart store on Neumann Lawn (across from Wolfington Hall and the Science Center), which was sponsored by Saint Joseph’s University Department of Food Marketing. No word yet as to how or why Wal-Mart was chosen for that move-in day feature; the tent was put up yesterday afternoon and the “store” will be open until 5:00 p.m. today.

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It’s the list that many use to determine where they’ll apply for college. And we’re not talking about U.S. News & World Report‘s “Top 100 Colleges in America.”

It’s Princeton Review’s much-anticipated top 10 party schools in the U.S. list, and the winners for 2011 were recently released.

While there were no Philadelphia universities (including Saint Joseph’s University) to be found on the list, Penn State kept its reputation as a top party school intact with a no. 3 rating for the 2011 academic year. Here’s the complete list:

1.) University of Georgia

2.) Ohio University

3.) Pennsylvania State University

4.) West Virginia

5.) Ole Miss

6.) University of Texas

7.) University of Florida

8.) University of California: Santa Barbara

9.) Iowa

10.) DePauw University

The rankings are based on data from nearly 122,000 surveys completed voluntarily by college students across the country this year. They’re based on alcohol and drug use, amount of time students spend partying vs. studying, as well as the popularity of Greek life on campus.

If you’re living in an on-campus residence hall or house this year, don’t worry about saving up singles for laundry. That’s because, starting this summer, on-campus living spaces will offer cash-free laundry services to its residents.

LaFarge, McShain, Borgia, and Merion Gardens have already had their laundry machines converted to the cash-free system. Rashford, Lancaster Court, Wynnwood, Sourin, Pennbrook, Ashwood, and all student houses will have cash-free laundry machines by July 9, 2010.

No word yet on why Residence Life and Saint Joseph’s University officials decided this was the year to provide free laundry to students. Either way, summer students (and students in the fall) will enjoy keeping their cash in their wallets for their trip to the laundry room.

You can find out more information about on-campus housing through the Office of Residence Life’s website.

It’s official — you weren’t just imagining that Philadelphia felt hotter than a barbecue grill in the month of June.

According to an article on Philly.com, this past June marked the hottest month in the Philadelphia region in 137 years. The average temperature of 78.2 degrees beat out 78.0 degrees in 1925 and 1994, and the month hosted a tie for the number of days the temperature inched past 90 degrees: 15 days total this month.

Humidity also made a star appearance in this month’s heat wave saga, destroying hair styles and morale across the Philadelphia region. Ironically, the hotter and more humid the weather becomes, the less efficiently air conditioning units tend to work — but, undoubtedly, the air conditioning was turned to often these last few weeks.

The cool temperatures of yesterday and today offered a bit of a respite from the oppressive heat; however, 4th of July holiday weekend forecasts indicate that we’ll be seeing heat and humidity with fireworks this year.

In other related news, air conditioning units will be installed in Sourin Hall at Saint Joseph’s University to fight the summer heat in the first few weeks of the academic year. Whether the residence hall’s unofficial nickname — “Sweaty Sourin” — still sticks is yet to be seen.

Here’s some tips on how to stay cool (and healthy) in the summer heat:

  1. Open your windows at night. If cooler air is heading your way, prop open windows to let some nighttime breezes float in. It will reduce the need for you to run any air conditioning units you may have, also saving you some mula.
  2. Wear light weight, light-colored loose-fitting clothing.
  3. Apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating of at least “SPF 15” to exposed portions of the body.
  4. Limit exposure during the hottest hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  5. If possible, avoid strenuous work or exercise outside.
  6. Take advantage of shade in the environment and/or wear a wide-brimmed hat.
  7. Stay in air-conditioned areas or use cooling fans to speed sweat evaporation.

Tips courtesy of the Consumer Energy Center

A tree was uprooted and fell onto St. Thomas Hall during yesterday's thunderstorms. Photo taken by Jon Wong '10.

Updated 7:30 p.m. on June 25, 2010

A large tree behind St. Thomas Hall at Saint Joseph’s University was uprooted during yesterday’s heavy thunderstorms. According to a message sent by President Timothy Lannon, S.J., to the university’s faculty and staff, large trees fell behind both St. Thomas Hall and Bronstein Hall yesterday afternoon.

In his e-mail, Lannon confirmed that damage had been sustained by both buildings: minor damage occurred in Bronstein, while significant damage occurred on the roof and second floor offices of St. Thomas.

No one was injured during the time of the accident, and Lannon said that all operations would resume normally on Monday. Employees who work in offices in the building are temporarily relocating to the 2nd floor of McShain Hall, a freshman residence center, for the next week until the tree can be cleared and the building can be properly assessed.

In his e-mail to the university community, Lannon also mentioned that this Sunday’s open house for new applicants will go on as scheduled despite St. Thomas Hall’s damage.

Yesterday afternoon’s storms brought wind gusts of up to 55 m.p.h., and caused over 280,000 homes to lose power in the Philadelphia region, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s report. SEPTA’s regional rail services, including the R5, were delayed significantly because of the storm, which lasted from about 4 to 5 p.m. on June 24.

St. Thomas Hall hosts Saint Joseph’s University’s Office of Financial Assistance. Bronstein Hall hosts the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

By Sam Koch ’11

Saint Joseph’s University officials continued its fight for proposed athletic-upgrades on Maguire Campus at another zoning board hearing in Lower Merion this week.

In an hour-long session with the Lower Merion zoning board, the university’s lawyers, led by Michael Sklaroff, countered arguments against the proposed upgrades presented by the Merion Community Coalition (MCC) in their last meeting held in May.

Members of the MCC and the neighborhood adjacent to the Maguire Campus were present at this week’s hearing. One neighbor in particular, Dr. Michael Toaff, argued that the proposed changes would negatively impact the community, and that crime would “inevitably increase,” according to a Main Line Times report.

Sklaroff asked Toaff to reconsider those claims, and asked whether they were the result of reason or emotion.

A zoning board decision in March of 2009 denied the proposed changes and renovations to Maguire Campus, citing the “similar use” expectation established when the property was first purchased in 2005. Zoning hearings have continued with little progress for over a year.

An string of additional zoning hearings has been scheduled in July to continue discussions from both Saint Joseph’s and MCC representatives. An hour-long hearing has been set for July 8, as well as two full nights of hearings on July 19 and 20. All meetings are open to the public.

The Starbucks store at 766 Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr, Pa., was robbed this morning, according to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Two men arrived at the popular coffee destination with stun guns as the shop was opening its doors this morning. Police say that the two men took approximately $800 in cash after forcing two Starbucks employees to the ground using the stun guns; both employees suffered superficial injuries.

The Starbucks location was a familiar venue, only six miles from Saint Joseph’s University and only a few miles away from Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College in Ardmore, Pa.

Lower Merion police officials say they are searching through surveillance tapes to try to locate the two men involved in this morning’s robbery.

Beginning July 1, all U.S. Starbucks locations will offer free Wi-Fi to its customers. No word on free coffee, though.

According to a New York Times article posted today, Starbucks has announced that all of its U.S. stores will provide free Wi-Fi to its customers beginning on July 1, 2010.

The move comes after several of Starbucks’ competitors–most recently McDonald’s–began to offer their customers free access to wireless Internet at U.S. locations. Starbucks has never offered free Wi-Fi in its history. Beginning in July, though, customers will have access to Wi-Fi powered by AT&T in all U.S. Starbucks locations. Starbucks will also be offering access to traditionally pay-to-view sites, like the Wall Street Journal (WSJ.com) beginning in the fall.

While many smaller coffee shops have attempted to create new ways for customers to avoid lingering with their laptops, Starbucks officials say that they’re not worried. Currently, customers with Wi-Fi access spend about an hour at a table, a number that Starbucks says it thinks will remain about the same despite the new offer of free Wi-Fi.

Saint Joseph’s University currently has one Starbucks location on campus. The store, located on the corner of 54th Street and City Avenue, is managed by Aramark. No word as of yet whether St. Joe’s Starbucks will also provide free Wi-Fi along with the other national locations, or if the Wi-Fi access will also be provided by Sprint; calls are pending to university and Aramark officials to confirm details.

In an attempt to save her black Chihuahua dog, a woman stepped onto the train tracks at Bryn Mawr station and was struck while trying to return to the platform.

According to a report by the Inquirer, the woman’s dog ran onto the train tracks around 6 p.m. on Friday, June 11. The dog’s owner, a woman in her 40s, stepped out on the tracks to retrieve the dog. As she was returning to the platform, she was hit by an approaching SEPTA train.

An onlooker described the scene as “terrible-looking.” The woman was instantly killed, but her dog managed to walk away relatively unscathed. The Chihuahua was transported to a local animal hospital after the incident.

While some station stops have physical barriers that prevent passengers from fully crossing the tracks, very few have anything more than signs warning against stepping onto the tracks. In addition to physical danger, crossing tracks is also illegal.