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COUNCIL

The November 3 University Council meeting was primarily devoted to the annual State of the University presentations. President Amy Gutmann's report, including the portions presented by Omar Blaik, Craig Carnaroli and Medha Narvekar appear in this issue. Interim Provost Peter Conn's remarks, along with the portions of his report presented by Carton Rogers and Leslie Hudson will be included in next week's issue.

 

President Amy Gutmann

Civic Engagement

I am delighted to report on the State of the University and welcome the opportunity to take stock of where we have been and assess where we are going.

For weeks, our campus has been abuzz with political dialogue; I think you've all noticed that. Students of both political parties worked tirelessly to register their classmates to vote in record numbers. This can be a turning point, because the effort to register Penn students to vote has paid off. In the 27th ward, registration rose by nearly 50 percent. And preliminary numbers indicate that in the ward's six divisions—covering undergraduate students living on campus—we saw a three-fold increase in voter turnout over the 2000 Presidential election. That's really remarkable.

Let this election open a new era of renewed civic engagement, not only at the ballot box but also in our daily lives. As a university, we want to nurture the habit of mind that keeps students engaged in the important issues of our times, and all times far beyond their years at Penn. So let's run with the progress that we have made this season.

Over the past year, Penn has made notable progress across the spectrum.

Whether we look at the diversity of our student body, returns on investment of our endowment, faculty honors and awards, civic engagement, neighborhood initiatives, campus safety or construction of new and renovated facilities, we are a better university today than we were a year ago. And we weren't so bad a year ago, so that's really good news.

In my tenure as president, I want to lead Penn from excellence to eminence in all our core endeavors. With our Penn family working together in unison, we can achieve the three goals of the Penn Compact that I set forth in my inaugural address. These goals are: 1) increasing access to a Penn education; 2) integrating knowledge by building more and even better bridges between the liberal arts and the professions; and 3) increasing Penn's engagement with communities, both locally and globally.

The heart of our teaching and research community is our faculty. Interim Provost Peter Conn will give you a full report on the faculty's many accomplishments over the past year. Let me just say here how very impressed I am with the quality of our faculty's teaching and research over the past year.

Penn faculty members have made important new discoveries involving everything from nano-tubes to butterflies to human neurons and far beyond. The publications and teaching of our faculty reinforce my confidence in our future.

The diversity of our student body continues to expand—though we still have work to do. Of Penn's 2,433 entering freshmen, 13.2 percent are from other countries. This is up from 9.3 percent over last year's freshman class. Nearly 38 percent of the Class of 2008 are students of color. Our entering students are also accomplished in far more ways than grade point averages and SAT scores.

West Philadelphia Community

A safe environment is absolutely essential to our progress. I am pleased to report that crime has fallen by 16 percent on and around our campus over the past year. Computerized mapping of crime patterns has allowed our public safety department, working with city police, to deploy resources where they are most needed.

Our work with the West Philadelphia community continues to grow. As the first event of my inauguration, I participated in our volunteers' day at the Sayre School, where hundreds of Penn faculty, students and staff have helped to add health promotion into the curriculum. This fall, for the first time, the Penn Alexander School was fully enrolled with all grades, kindergarten through grade 8.

At 40th and Walnut Street, we have seen the opening of the Metropolitan Bakery and the Marathon Grill. The Foundation Program at the Rotunda has expanded its hours. And, just a few weeks ago, I joined in celebrating the reopening of the Free Library's West Philadelphia branch, which is a great educational addition to our West Philadelphia community. And Walnut Street West Library is also my local library, now that I have moved into the President's house.

I'm also pleased to report that the house is now wheelchair accessible. This past weekend—the weekend after I moved into the house—I was delighted to have been able to host at my new home the Parents' Family Weekend Brunch for about 400 parents, and the Halloween party for even more students. That was fun.

I have come to know scores of community leaders, including Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who graciously hosted a welcoming reception for me that drew several hundred people from around the community.

Last month, Trustee Gil Casellas and I marked another Penn first when, for the first time in Penn's history, a president and trustee joined a meeting of the First Thursday group of the West Philadelphia community. We were very warmly welcomed there.

Campus Development

The past year was also one of significant progress in major renovation projects as all of you who walk around campus can amply observe. Let me just mention a few. The recent opening of the WXPN building—with World Café Live—brings an exciting new music and entertainment venue. The new Translational Research Laboratory will accelerate our efforts to turn discoveries in basic science into marketable products.

I also am pleased to report that we are now above ground on our Life Sciences Building, which will be completed in July.

We have broken ground for the new research building at the School of Veterinary Medicine, which will be completed in 2006, as will our School of Engineering's Skirkanich Hall. 

We also completed major renovations to Harrison House and to Williams Hall. And we now have installed sprinkler systems in all undergraduate campus housing.

Financial Base

Success in teaching, research and public service here at Penn depends on a strong financial base. On this front, I can report important gains.

We realized a 16.8 percent return on our endowment investments for the last fiscal year ending July 1, 2004. That's very good news. And our endowment topped $4 billion. Total gifts and pledges exceeded $253 million last year, indicating strong support from our alumni, friends, corporations, foundations and other associations. 

Penn Medicine, for the fourth consecutive year, ended with net positive income for its operations. Moody's upgraded our long-term debt rating from A1 to Aa3.  Total undergraduate fees (tuition, room and board) increased by 4.4 percent in the current academic year, while undergraduate student aid is projected to increase by 9.5 percent.

We need to build still greater quality in our core teaching and research missions. We are still largely under-resourced when compared to our peer institutions and we must continue to make major strides in our investments and our fundraising. I intend to build and lead a capital campaign both collaboratively and vigorously and successfully. We've got to build our resource base.

The Penn Compact

In a few minutes, my senior colleagues will report on specific progress in key areas. Before they begin, let me elaborate a bit on the goals of the Penn Compact, because it will be the basis for my moving forward and leading our fundraising efforts. It will also be the basis for our collaboration across this amazingly diverse and wonderful yet complex university.

First, with regard to increasing access:

As part of our University-wide campaign, we will establish targets for raising significant new scholarship and fellowship funds so that Penn is known to be affordable to all middle-income and low-income students.

I will be working with our admissions office to recruit the best and brightest students from all backgrounds to form classes that are ever more excellent and diverse.

I will lead our extended Penn family in our engagement to improve public education in our community and society.

Second, with regard to integrating knowledge:

Putting knowledge to practical use is one of Penn's greatest comparative advantages. We are leaders here, I want Penn to be ever more eminent as a leader in this regard.

We must ensure that the education we offer our students actually integrates both the knowledge and the skill—both analytic skills and synthetic skills—that are necessary to address complex issues of our times.

We have many excellent inter-disciplinary and joint degree programs. We have faculty who teach across departments and schools.  But there remain significant obstacles to ownership of and support for realizing truly eminent inter-school and inter-departmental programs. We must strive as a university community to put this goal of integrating knowledge more vigorously and practically into practice. For example, we need to make it easier for faculty members to hold joint appointments across departments and schools. We also need to make it easier for students to enroll in courses across schools, and to know what's available to them.

Third, with regard to engaging communities:

I plan to build on our impressive track record of both local and global engagement. I have spoken quite a bit about our local engagement and I will continue to do more and more in that regard. But let me give you one example of the kind of global engagement that I would like to encourage.

More than 50 percent of the populace of Botswana is infected with HIV. Think about that. Private philanthropies have agreed to finance the cost of providing life-extending AIDS medicines but Botswana simply does not have enough doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to deliver these free medicines.

Enter the Penn Medical School. We have established a model training program in Botswana. 

Penn faculty, medical students and residents are now rotating in and out of the country on a six-week schedule.  At the country's largest hospital, they work shoulder-to-shoulder with local people to train them to care for AIDS patients.

The Botswana partnership is making a systemic change that can serve as a model for many other developing countries. And Penn is taking the lead in doing this. At the same time, our faculty and students also benefit by getting on-the-ground experience in delivering health care in resource-poor settings where it is direly needed.

I will encourage more global engagements by our faculty and students that speak to our core educational mission. Over time, such engagements will make us a model of an American university with an international perspective and global reach. Penn's expanding global reach will be one of the catalysts for propelling us from excellence to eminence.

With this as a précis, I'd now like to call on my colleagues who will provide you with more detailed reports in each of their areas.

Omar Blaik, senior vice president for facilities and real estate services, will lead off. He will be followed by Craig Carnaroli, executive vice president, and Medha Narvekar, interim vice president for development and alumni relations.  Omar, would you please begin.

 

 


  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 11, November 9, 2004

ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS:

Tuesday,
November 9, 2004
Volume 51 Number 11
www.upenn.edu/almanac

 

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