As I welcome you back to campus I recall several occasions over the summer when friends of Penn asked me what "the plan" is for the year ahead. Each time I gave the same basic response: "The plan is to follow the plan."
This was not mere wordplay. My point was that University faculty, students, administrators, and trustees spent a great deal of time through late 1995 and 1996 developing a planthe Agenda for Excellencethat is well-designed to lead Penn into the 21st Century. Now our job is to see to its implementation and the achievement of its goals.
Because Penn is large and disparate, it may appear at any given time that a range of distinct and unrelated activities is taking place around campus. New technology here, new programs there, construction and reconstruc tion: "What does this have to do with that?" is a frequently heard question.
The answer, much of the time, is that seemingly disconnected endeavors and developments are, in fact, essential and interwoven parts of our institutional agenda. They relate to each other like the working parts of a body and, as Penn drives ahead toward comprehensive excellence, each has its own vital role.
Penn needs and has a blueprint, an Agenda for Excellence , because more than ever before, students need a superb education and the world needs the growth in knowledge produced by the best research universities. Moreover, the world of higher education is growing ever more competitive and, unless Penn strives to be among the best, we will end upcertainly not among the worstbut among the many. That is simply unacceptable for the University founded by Benjamin Franklin.
With this as background, I offer an account of our recent progress on a number of fronts. Each is an area of emphasis in the Agenda for Excellence; our progress is not happenstance.
Exciting New Academic Programs
We have launched vigorous new programs in a number of Penn's schools in a campus-wide spirit of innovation. To highlight just a few, the School of Arts and Sciences has instituted a rigorous quantitative skills requirement that will help prepare its graduates for life and careers in the 21st Century. SAS and the School of Engineering and Applied Science have also established a small battery of competitive new master's programs. The School of Medicine is moving forward with Curriculum 2000, perhaps the most signicant curricular development in medicine this century. The Law School is developing strategic cross-school programs with Wharton, SAS, and other schools as it takes broad advantage of Penn's multi-disciplinary opportunities. And signicant advances in distance learning are being made across the University.
A Leader Among Universities in the Wise Use of Technology
Penn continues to be recognized nationally for its innovative leadership in the use of information technology. Undergraduates who live in rst-year and college houses will see a real breakthrough this month in our support for their computing needsthrough a support-in-residence program that integrates computing support with academic support in math, English and the use of library resources. The rest of the campus is settling into the rst full year of computing service delivered under a new decentralized support model that puts users more directly in touch with technical resources. Penn's groundbreaking Resnet project is nished. And we're beginning to link up with new high-speed networking that goes beyond what the conventional Internet can do.
Penn's academic programs have been enhanced and enriched by our peerless campus. A unique gem in the middle of a major city, it remains home to each of our twelve schools and is being wisely, strategically developed
A Neighborhood That Is Clean and Safe
Cleanliness and safety are the two main goals of the University City District that was inaugurated in August. Supported by Penn and other area institutions, UCD will complement city services with cleaning, security, and other services specially tailored to our West Philadelphia community.
UCD will augment the University's commitment to the safety of our community. Over the past year we added more than twenty new police ofcers to our force and contracted with a leading rm to bring state-of-the-art electronic security systems to our buildings and residences. Because of our continuing efforts, the number of reported robberies in our area has dropped signicantly from a year ago. When crime does occur, our police are now able to make more and quicker apprehensions
In addition, by December, we will have completed UC Brite. Begun last fall, this residential lighting initiative is helping University City homeowners install new exterior lighting on their homes. A partnership with PECO Energy and area landlords, UC Brite is lighting up University Cityhouse by house, block by block, street by street.
A University of Choice for World-Class Faculty and World-Class Students
Members of the faculty are being recognized with major awards at an almost dizzying pace. Over the past year Penn professors received a MacArthur Award, the Bower Award and Prize in Science, and the Kyoto Prize, among other prestigious international awards. The University and the nation are in their debt.
Our students are equally impressive. Entering Penn this fall is the Class of 2001our "millennial class." The road that led these bright young people to Penn was documented in a marvelous April cover story in U.S. News and World Report. Our student "accept rate" is even higher than last year's record, and these incoming freshmen, ranked in the top 3 percent of their senior high school classes, make up Penn's most accomplished class to date.
Our newest students bring incredible promise to Penn, the excitement of the new millennium, and the hope of many good things to come. So, too, does all of our strategic planning, implementation, and progress. Together we are advancing the University to a position of preeminence in the approaching century.
I thank each of you for all you do for Penn, and I am delighted to welcome you back to this great University.