|Welcome Back From the President
September 5, 2006, Volume 53, No. 2
Pride and Possibilities
Next spring Penn will launch the first phase of our eastern campus development plan, Penn Connects, when we take possession of the 24-acre postal lands along the Schuylkill. As we prepare for this giant step forward, we should be proud that the Penn name now is synonymous with innovation and collaboration. The vibrant connections we have forged with citizens and groups in West Philadelphia and across our city and region will be greatly enhanced by new green spaces, walkways and bridges, campus facilities and mixed-use developments. The pride we take in our alumni has never been greater, as has been their enthusiastic support for our highest priorities. This confluence of unprecedented pride and boundless possibilities gives us a running start as we prepare for a fundraising campaign that will enable us to realize the promise of Penn’s future.
As we approach the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, we remember the courageous acts of rescue teams, many of whom lost their lives in defending this country’s freedom. To honor their memory, we must recognize and act upon our power to improve a troubled world. Through our efforts at Penn to integrate knowledge, increase access, and find practical applications of our knowledge locally and globally, we will contribute to a better future while moving our University forward with pride.
Our drive to expand on Penn’s core strengths in interdisciplinary teaching and research will continue this fall with an innovative College curriculum and with the enrollment of the first class in our new Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management. We also welcome dozens of eminent faculty to our campus, including our first Penn Integrates Knowledge professor, Dr. John L. Jackson, Jr., who will be affiliated with the Annenberg School of Communications, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the Center for Africana Studies.
Two magnificent state-of-the-art science buildings will open this fall. Our School of Veterinary Medicine will upgrade research and library space when the Hill Pavilion opens this month. And our beautiful new home for bioengineering, Skirkanich Hall, will notch another mark for Penn’s cutting-edge engineering school, whose nanotechnology research program recently was named #1 in the country by Small Times magazine. We are embarking on a feasibility study for a nanotech facility to complement the innovative Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine already under construction.
A thriving artistic and cultural environment enhances Penn’s integrated living and learning community. Creative sparks will fly this fall when the Platt Performing Arts hub opens on the lower level of Stouffer College House.
We will enhance Penn’s great outdoors this spring as we begin to extend some of our pedestrian walkways and greening over postal land parking lots. Planning for improved athletics and recreation facilities and a new College House on Hill Square will commence as well.
This year finds Penn ever more engaged in addressing the most pressing global and local challenges. The School of Veterinary Medicine is helping to develop and implement a statewide avian flu surveillance program. Penn’s Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response (ISTAR) is collaborating with Penn Medicine, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, and Dental Medicine to create a professional school curriculum that will help the health care force prepare for a possible bioterrorism attack and any natural emergency.
I am delighted to report that we received an enthusiastic go-ahead from the School Reform Commission for our plan to develop with the School District of Philadelphia an International Studies High School expected to open in 2007. A host of other clinical programs and education initiatives are improving the quality of life in our community while furnishing valuable learning experiences for our students. One vivid and uplifting indicator of the success of our public education ventures is the fact that three quarters of graduating 8th graders at the Penn Alexander School are attending selective high schools this fall.
An independent report released last year assessed Penn’s economic impact on our region at more than $9.5 billion, a figure that will continue to rise when we open a new 10-story, mixed-use apartment building at 40th and Chestnut and begin redeveloping the 3900 block of Walnut.
Last year saw active engagement by Penn students, faculty and staff in communities beyond Philadelphia. They joined rebuilding efforts on the Gulf Coast, arranged micro financing for women in Senegal, and set up educational and design programs in China.
We can be especially proud that Penn recently was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as the nation’s top college and university purchaser of “green power” for our purchase of wind power.
There will be no shortage of new opportunities to help others—and I know our extraordinary faculty, staff, and students will rise to the occasion.
In a few weeks, alumni, families and friends of Penn will receive a snazzy “compact” guide to the year ahead called “Proudly Penn.” And so we are. Let’s keep that Penn Pride going strong.