"Incoming freshmen to the University of Pennsylvania, as at many schools across the country, typically start their college careers reading a common book and then discussing it - an orientation activity meant to unify the class.
This fall, the 19-year-old project takes a new twist at Penn: Students will study and discuss a painting, Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic.
Penn officials said they think they are the first to use a painting for the orientation project, and national officials knew of no other school.
The university is changing its approach as part of a new campaign it will officially launch next month, called "Arts & The City Year."
In addition to the orientation project, Penn plans "arts crawls" around the city, and an arts "passport" to art and cultural institutions with discounts and prizes for students. An "art in public health" series, arts seminars, and a variety of other programs also are planned to put students more in touch with the art venues on campus and around the region."