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Council Meeting Coverage: International Issues
February 6, 2007, Volume 53, No. 21

As a follow-up comment to the Status Reports, UA chairman Brett Thalmann reported that the UA recently released a major report, dealing with some 40 projects, that is on the UA’s website, http://dolphin.upenn.edu/~ua/.

Dr. Neville Strumpf, past Senate chair, noted the passing of Carolyn “Penny” Burdon, the former executive assistant to the Senate, who died in December. A memorial has been planned for her; it will be held on Thursday afternoon.

The majority of Council’s first meeting of the semester was devoted to international issues, which is part of a pillar of the Penn Compact, “engaging locally and globally.” President Gutmann began the discussion by noting that Penn’s student body grows more international each year. Penn has the highest percentage of international undergraduates in the Ivy League: 12%, or 1,400 of Penn’s undergraduates, are international students from 100 countries. Of Penn’s 11,000 graduate and professional students, there are 2,800 international students who comprise 24% of that group. The Class of 2009 received a record number of international applicants, with 9.5% early decision. Dr. Gutmann also pointed out that after 9/11, many regulations have made it more difficult for international students to come to Penn. She cited an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Coalition of Exchange, Trade and Research Groups Calls for a More Open Visa Policy.” She added, “We want to be and are cooperative with all measures that are legally in place targeted toward security.” However, she stressed that Penn and other institutions want to decrease “unnecessary barriers,” which is why she agreed to serve on the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board in 2005. Dr. Gutmann said one of the challenges facing Penn is to find more resources to provide financial aid to more students from around the globe. Recently, 58 financially aided freshmen from around the globe were admitted, thanks in part to Penn World Scholars which she said is reaping rewards as international alumni give scholarship funds to make Penn accessible.

Provost Ron Daniels spoke about how Penn’s student body has the 14th largest number of international students of all U.S. universities and is #2 in international scholars, with only Harvard having more. Penn also sends 1,744 students to study in other countries putting Penn as #7 in the national ranking for study abroad. The Provost also mentioned the Founder’s Day Symposium that he had moderated on January 19, “Changing the World? Penn Confronts Global Challenges.” He said that while no unanimous conclusion was reached by the eight panelists, it is clear that “there is an agenda for further research and work in this area that we have to address.”

He also reported that the College’s “Literatures in the World Series” has addressed international challenges and encourages students to think in more global terms with readings of international literature and instruction in the original languages. Faculty from various departments are involved, teaching courses in Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi and many other languages.

Penn’s four international centers—African Studies, the Middle East, South Asia and East Asian Studies—all received $1.5 million grants from the U.S. government to continue their work.

Provost Daniels announced that a new Fund for International Education is being launched by his office which has circulated a memo to the Deans, asking them to generate proposals to expand our current international offerings for students. Proposals might include programs in major fields or parts of the world not commonly represented by study abroad; short-term overseas options, such as embedded or appended overseas components to on-campus courses; rigorous active-learning programs involving service learning, professional internships, or field research overseas; new ideas for interdisciplinary offerings that focus on global issues; and new introductory courses for first and second year undergraduates. He said they expect to award up to $100,000 total in grant support.

The next Council Meeting is February 28. To place an item on the agenda for the next Council Open Forum, submit it to Vincent Price, Steering Committee Chair, senate@pobox.upenn.edu, by February 7.


Almanac - February 6, 2007, Volume 53, No. 21