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Welcome Back From the President
September 4, 2007, Volume 54, No. 2

Rededication to Thinking Across Disciplines

Penn’s prominence in teaching and research rests on eminent faculty, superb academic leadership and state-of-the-art facilities. It therefore gives me great pleasure to be ushering in the fall with a wonderful new cohort of distinguished scholars and academic leaders, and also to be moving full steam ahead with a new nanoscience building worthy of the cross-disciplinary trailblazers in Arts and Sciences and Engineering who have thrust Penn into the forefront of one of today’s most revolutionary research fields.

We begin with our most important resource: extremely talented people. Deans Andrew C. Porter and Thomas S. Robertson and their teams are inaugurating new eras by building on great strength, at Penn’s Graduate School of Education and Wharton School, respectively. Dean Porter, a nationally renowned scholar and leader in educational policy, brings an inspiring interdisciplinary vision of the role that a leading school of education can play in today’s world—locally, nationally and globally. He has published widely on psychometrics, student assessment, education indicators, and research on effective teaching. Most recently he was chair of educational leadership and policy, and director of the Learning Sciences Institute at Vanderbilt University.

Dean Porter will be joined by Associate Dean Stanton Wortham, who, as interim dean, strengthened GSE’s cross-disciplinary ties and oversaw the hiring of an extraordinary group of faculty whose strengths in research, teaching, and public service will redound to the betterment of education at home and around the world.

We are welcoming back one of our own in Dean Tom Robertson, whose distinctive international and interdisciplinary vision of business education in the 21st century is a perfect fit for the world’s leading business school. After playing a major role in the school’s transformation while a member of the Wharton marketing faculty from 1971 to 1994 and as associate dean for executive education, Dean Robertson built an outstanding track record as dean of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and, most recently, as executive faculty director of Emory’s Institute for Developing Nations.

Dean Robertson has appointed a stellar team to join him in raising Wharton to the next level of global eminence and impact. Finance Professor and recent chair of our finance department Michael R. Gibbons has been named deputy dean, the school’s chief academic and program officer. David C. Schmittlein, professor of marketing and most recently Wharton’s interim dean, is serving as vice dean for Global Initiatives and Brand Development. Georgette Chapman Phillips, professor of legal studies and law, and chair of the real estate department, has become vice dean and director of the Undergraduate Division. 

The Office of the Provost also is gaining two experienced and dedicated academic leaders this fall: communication and political science professor Vincent Price is now associate provost for faculty affairs, and Michael J. Cleare is associate vice provost for research and executive director of the Center for Technology Transfer. Associate Provost Price brings a wealth of experience to College Hall, having chaired both our Faculty Senate and the department of communication studies at the University of Michigan. Associate Vice Provost Cleare is an industry leader with an impressive seven-year track record at the head of Columbia’s highly regarded technology transfer program. 

These strong leaders and our two powerful decanal teams add momentum to Penn’s drive toward ever-greater interdisciplinary work and social impact. We also are enriched this fall by the addition of more than 100 distinguished new standing faculty members, whose scholarship and fresh perspectives will exponentially enhance our community of learning.

Our dream of a new nanoscale research facility has taken a giant step closer to becoming reality.  SEAS Overseer and alumnus Krishna P. Singh has made a $20 million gift toward building a new nanoscale science facility. The Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology will enable us to sustain and enhance our capacity for life-enhancing discovery and innovation that has attracted the field’s leading lights to Penn. We all convey our appreciation to Mr. Singh for his extraordinary gift, which will catapult Penn to ever-greater prominence in nanoscale science and engineering. 

And as we begin this exciting new academic year, let us also rededicate ourselves to the kind of innovative thinking across disciplines which, put into practice, will enable Penn to be the greatest teaching and research university we can possibly be. Our momentum has never been greater, thanks to the many talented and dedicated people who comprise our Penn family.

Amy Gutmann

Almanac - September 4, 2007, Volume 54, No. 2