Welcome Back From the President
Reaching New Heights and Setting Priorities
We are emerging from a long, hot summer in Philadelphia, where more than the weather has been sizzling. Penn is hot, too, and if we can sustain our hot streak of successes in teaching, research, fundraising, and admissions, we will get hotter, still.
While we take national rankings with a few grains of salt, we of course are pleased with Penn taking 4th place once again in the U.S. News & World Report Rankings. We also are delighted that the 2006 Kaplan/Newsweek College Guide recognized Penn as the nation’s hottest “happy-to-be-there” university, which, given our record yield for the Class of 2009, should not surprise any of us.
In setting the highest and broadest standards of achievement, we at Penn are “so happy together.” During my inaugural address, I claimed that our community was remarkably united. Penn this past year proved me correct beyond my highest expectations. Our entire Penn family, including our Trustees and alumni, enthusiastically and strategically supported the Penn Compact, while our academic and administrative communities effectively collaborated to put Penn on stronger footing and to move our University forward.
For example, under the Compact we created a record number (140) of new undergraduate scholarships, launched the Penn Integrates Knowledge initiative, developed guiding principles for the future campus expansion to the east, and began rebuilding the educational infrastructure of communities affected by last December’s tsunami.
Now that we have rallied around the Penn Compact and notched some important victories, we are ready to lay a solid foundation with more concrete enterprises that will secure Penn’s future as the premier research university for the next century.
Toward that goal, I have identified a set of priorities that I wish to share with you now.
Complete a revision of the campus development master plan and set a timetable for developing the postal lands. When Penn takes possession of the 14-acre postal lands property a year and a half from now, we will begin transforming surface lots, fallow buildings, and eyesores into a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood, featuring new space for research, cafes, shops and restaurants, arts venues, and recreation. Planning effectively for this transformation will require harnessing the expertise, contributions, and perspectives of our Trustees, faculty, city and community leaders, staff, students, and alumni. Over the course of this academic year, a campus development planning committee will seek feedback and counsel from a broad array of deliberative and governing bodies at Penn, including the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the University Council Steering Committee. I am confident that by the end of this fiscal year, we will have a dynamic campus plan that the Penn community, the city of Philadelphia, and the region will embrace.
Develop a plan for global engagement that reflects Penn’s commitment to produce new knowledge and graduates who enrich the lives of our fellow human beings throughout the world. A presidential global task force this year will develop and recommend a set of initiatives designed to attract more international scholars and practitioners to the Penn campus, to create ever more robust models of integrated global teaching, research, and practice across all 12 schools, and to better engage our illustrious international alumni.
Recruit and retain first-rate faculty. While all great universities embrace this goal, the Penn Integrates Knowledge initiative distinctively gives us the advantage of aggressively recruiting eminent scholar-teachers for dual appointments spanning two schools. Provost Ron Daniels and I have already received two dozen names of world-renowned scholars whom our deans enthusiastically recommend for consideration. I expect to announce the first of these faculty appointments by the end of this academic year.
Continue to raise significantly more funds for financial aid for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. We made impressive gains in increasing access to Penn for students of all backgrounds, including setting a record for the number of new undergraduate scholarships created in a year. However, we still have a long way to go before we can even begin to lessen the debt burden on our middle- and low-income scholarship students and their families. Improving financial aid at Penn thus will remain a top priority throughout my presidency.
Plan a fundraising campaign that focuses on our highest priorities. We at Penn excel in managing our resources wisely. We must remain innovative and vigilant in stretching our dollars. But we also must vigorously plan over the next two years for a five-year campaign that will enable us to achieve global eminence as a great teaching and research University. We already do more with less. Imagine what we could do with more.
As we forge ahead on this ambitious agenda, I do want to thank and congratulate the entire University community for reaching new heights this past year. Penn is so much better because of you, and so am I.
Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 2, September 6, 2005
September 6, 2005
Volume 52 Number 2