Michael H. Jameson, Professor of Classical Studies at Penn from 1954 to 1976, became Dean of the Graduate School in 1966. According to the following memoir by colleague Martin Ostwald:
One of his most seminal institutional contributions to the study of antiquity he made almost as soon as he was appointed dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. Taking advantage of the presence at Penn of an excellent Department of Oriental Studies (as it was then called) and of the outstanding facilities of the University Museum, he founded the Graduate Group in Ancient History as a new way of fostering through interdisciplinary studies a more comprehensive view of the ancient past, culminating in a Ph.D. that had teeth in it. The faculty was drawn from members of all existing departments concerned with the study of antiquity, so that no new appointments were required, and the students were assured instruction by the best expert in each field. To complete the doctorate, a student had to pass preliminary examinations in the language and literature of any two ancient cultures: e.g., Egyptian and Hittite, Assyrian and Greek, Roman and Hebrew, et cetera. Any two ancient cultures were acceptable. The completion and defense of a dissertation, preferably on a subject bridging the two cultures chosen, were the only additional requirements for the Ph.D. This program, in which I was privileged to participate, attracted a sizable number of outstanding students, many of whom now occupy chairs at leading universities. As far as I know, Mike was the first to implement an idea that has by now spread to many other universities both in this country and abroad and has given rise to a number of institutes of Mediterranean studies.