Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What do a wealthy Titanic passenger, a world tennis champion, and a 90’s rapper have in common? Peirce College of course!

Over the past 150 years, Peirce graduates have found successful careers in a wide range of fields in the Philadelphia area and beyond. Over that same period, some of our alumni have gone on to achieve national and international notoriety. Here are a few famous people who attended the College.

Simon Guggenheim was the son of Meyer Guggenheim, and an heir to the expansive Guggenheim fortune. Like many Peirce students past and present, Guggenheim chose the College for its emphasis on practical business training. After graduating, he moved to Colorado and was elected to the U.S. Senate where he served one term. He later became president of the American Smelting and Refining Company, and set up the philanthropic John Simon Guggenheim Foundation as a memorial for his son who passed away in 1922. The organization continues his work today. Simon was not the only Guggenheim to attend Peirce, his brothers Murray, Daniel, and Benjamin also attended. The father of art collector Peggy Guggenheim, Benjamin was one of the Peirce graduates whose lives were lost aboard the Titanic.
Benjamin Guggenheim Writing Sample

When the Peirce School of Business moved to 1420 Pine Street in 1915, the campus boasted not only “cool filtered water” and a bowling alley, but also a rooftop tennis court. In these early years, Peirce boasted a tennis team that produced two champions; Wallace F. Johnson and Bill Tilden. Tilden and Johnson faced each other in the 1921 U.S. tennis finals, Tilden went on to not only win the U.S. championship six times, but also Wimbledon in 1920 and 1921. He also led the U.S. Tennis Team to victory in the Davis Cup.
Rooftop Tennis Court
Bill Tilden

Of course, among the thousands of Peirce graduates over the years, there are bound to be a few bad apples. Anastasio Somoza passed through Peirce in the 1920s as part of the Spanish American program. He would go on to become the president of Nicaragua when he implausibly garnered over 99% of the vote, and things didn’t get much better after that.

Though Peirce sports teams came and went throughout the twentieth century, the men’s and women’s basketball teams were a constant, and one Peirce athlete would go on to the NBA. Johnny Baum (aka “Jumpin’ Johnny”) attended Peirce in 1964 and 1965. After Peirce he attended Temple, graduating in 1969, the same year he was drafted to the Chicago Bulls. He would go on to play on several NBA and ABA professional teams before retiring in the late 1970’s.
Jumpin' Johnny Baum
Christine Tartaglione graduated from Peirce in 1980 and has gone on to serve as a Democratic State Senator representing parts of Philadelphia. Now in her 6th term, Tartaglione serves as the minority chair of the Labor and Industry Committee, as well as serving as a member of the Appropriations Committee, Banking & Insurance Committee, and other committees. She has received several awards for her service both as a legislator and advocate, including the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award for her support of mental health programs.

It’s not likely Legal Studies student Tiffany Lane practiced her rap skills in the Peirce College Library, but after graduating Lane would become Charli Baltimore. Baltimore met Notorious B.I.G in 1995 and would go on to release her debut album “Cold as Ice” in 1999.