From the Chair
In my Commencement greetings last May, I pointed with Penn Pride to the legacy of Ben Franklin: "From the Charter for a modest educational initiative in 1740 to a vital and vibrant University (the nation's first) with four undergraduate schools and a dozen graduate and professional schools whose 2,000 standing faculty, an enrollment of 18,000 students, and an associated staff of 7,000 Penn sums to a veritable Athenian city/state on the West bank of the Schuylkill."
To a portion of us, the nation's first University implies the nation's #1 university. And by some dimensions that is indeed so. The School of Nursing and the Wharton School are ranked #1 among their peers. Other components of the University would also qualify as #1 by selected criteria.
The work that will commence this Fall to implement the deliberations of the Provost's Committee on Undergraduate Education could well move Penn to the front rank of undergraduate experience, certainly leading our peers in the Ivy League.
I would balance this programmatic thrust with an attention to infrastructure. A university thrives on its faculty and students. But it is sustained by its infrastructure. The restructuring of the process and mechanisms by which we organize, discipline, and advance our programs will help to sustain and enhance our academic preeminence.
Finally, in more than a three decade professional career, I have yet to encounter a government, corporate, or eleemosynary institution with a public image that exceeds the collective conviction of its membership. At times I think our Quaker reserve gets the better of us.
Accordingly, I offer my students counsel on the art of building a national reputation: "Everywhere you go, tell people how outstanding you are. They will remember what you said but soon forget where they heard it."
Let us acknowledge how outstanding we think Penn is as a prototypical University at the front rank for the 21st century. In my next letter to the University Community, I will discuss some of the agenda items for the Senate Executive Committee for the 1995-96 academic year.
-- William L. Kissick Chair, Faculty Senate