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 Fred SanfilippoFred Sanfilippo ’70 had a great experience as a member of Alpha Chi Rho. In fact, he credits his time at Phi Phi as where he began building the skills and values necessary to launch a successful career as a physician-scientist and medical center leader.

That’s why he wants to help future generations of Phi Phi brothers who have an interest in healthcare. To provide an incentive and lessen the financial burden, he recently established the Sanfilippo Phi Phi Scholarship, to be awarded annually to a full-time Phi Phi student interested in pursuing a career in any aspect of healthcare.

“I’ve established this scholarship to recognize the benefit my son Joe and I received from being AXP brothers in the Phi Phi Chapter, and to help future brothers,” said Fred.

Yes, you read that right. Fred’s son is also his fraternity brother. Joe Sanfilippo ’11, who came to Penn as a freshman in the fall of 2007, admittedly wasn’t interested in fraternity life at first, but he decided to check out AXP, knowing that his father had spent so much time there, and it wound up being the right fit.

“Being able to call my dad my ‘brother’ is a fun connection to share,” said Joe. “I imagine we had a lot of parallel experiences throughout pledgeship and living in the same house for a few years. When you think about the 40 years in between our respective college days, it’s neat how it all came full circle.”

Both Sanfilippos say that the diversity of the brotherhood is what drew them to Phi Phi—a virtue that hasn’t changed in more than 40 years.

“AXP was the most diverse fraternity at Penn in every respect: demographically, academically, and socially,” said Fred. “There were brothers of virtually every race, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic background, career interest, and campus activity. It provided a great opportunity to learn from and interact with a wide range of great brothers.”

Joe echoed, “I discovered an appreciation for learning about other people who were very different from me. This has helped me in my professional life, and also in getting to know myself better. Everybody has a different story, and I enjoyed hearing a lot of them at Phi Phi.”

 While Fred says he didn’t influence Joe’s decision to join AXP, he says he is proud that when Joe came to Penn the fraternity was still the same one he knew and loved 40 years earlier, and that his son found it to be a good match for him, too.

“Joe knew how much I got out of my experience at Phi Phi, which was a key focus of our visits for parents’ weekends and Homecomings while he was at Penn,” said Fred. “He had heard a lot of my stories, and when he arrived at Penn he saw for himself how unique of a fraternity it was and joined.That told me what a great place it still was.”

Fred exemplifies the phrase “paying it forward” by giving back to Phi Phi for the strong impact the fraternity made on his family. He encourages his fellow brothers to think about how they benefited from the generosity of others and find a way to pay it forward, too.

“AXP is the home that you and your friends—your brothers—grew up in,” Fred said. “It’s also a place to remember the past with them, as well as to meet a younger generation of brothers that connect you to the present and future of Penn and AXP.”

“Giving back is a way of saying thanks and giving forward is a way of ensuring futurebrothers will benefit in the way we did from the generosity of our past brothers,” he added.

After Penn, Fred attended Duke University’s MD-PhD program and has been a physician-scientist chairman, dean, and CEO at Duke, Johns Hopkins, Ohio State, and currently Emory. His wife, Janet, is an MBA university administrator, and his daughter Lisa is a nurse at NYU. Joe is a healthcare consultant at Huron Living in Chicago. Both Joe and Lisa plan to be married this year.

About the Scholarship

The Sanfilippo Phi Phi Scholarship will be awarded annually to a full-time Phi Phi student interested in pursuing a career in the field of healthcare. The award is based on the following criteria: 

✓ Academic achievement including grades and class rank

✓ Campus or community extracurricular involvement

✓ Fraternity involvement

✓ Leadership

✓ Work history

✓ Financial need

✓ Personal attributes

✓ Interest in a career in health