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A Primer of the Plethora of Penn Acronyms—From A to Z
October 14, 2008, Volume 55, No. 8

All across America, academics and athletes alike are accustomed to an array of acronyms—BA, BS, JD, MBA, MD, MSW, PhD, RN, AAUP, ACE, NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL, USTA—and at Penn an abundance of acronyms abounds and confounds. For instance there is PennSTAR, ISTAR and STAAR.

Below is an admittedly partial list of some of the many Penn acronyms, some have been around for decades and others are relatively new to the University.


AARC: African-American Resource Center, provides services, counseling, mediation, advocacy and debriefings to any member of the Penn community, with a particular focus on those of African descent.

ACASA: Ackoff Center for Advancement of Systems Approaches, a think-tank created in 2000 by SEAS.

ACELA: La Asociación Cultural de Estudiantes Latino Americanos, a student-run organization, established in 1947, based in La Casa Latina.

ARCH: Arts, Research and Culture House, located at 3601 Locust Walk, formerly known as the Christian Association before Penn purchased the building in 1999; the name was selected by a contest which attracted 250 entries.

BEN: Business Enterprise Network, the suite of web-based applications that support University-wide financial functions.

BGAPSA: Black Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, provides support for graduate and professional students of the African Diaspora.

CAPS: Counseling and Psychological Services, provides professional services to students who are having personal, social, academic and career issues.

CASI: Center for the Advanced Study of India, the only research institute in the US focused on contemporary India.

CCPPR: Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research, brings together scholars and professionals in law, medicine, and social work to protect children’s rights.

CHANGES: Center for Health Achievement Neighborhood Growth & Ethnic Studies, established at GSE in 1994.

CHOP: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the first hospital in the US dedicated solely to the care of children, home to Penn’s pediatric department.

CRRWH: Center for Research on Reproduction and Women’s Health, a biomedical research enterprise whose aims are to increase the understanding of human reproduction and  promote the well-being of women.

CTT: Center for Technology Transfer, obtains and manages patents, copyrights and trademarks derived from academic research.

CURF: Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowship, supports and endorses students applying for the major, international, post-graduate and other competitive fellowships.


CWiC: Communication Within the Curriculum, was originally launched as a pilot project called Speaking Across the University (SATU). in 2002 it changed its names to CWiC, it supports speaking as a means of and learning.

DAR: Development and Alumni Relations, manages programming of activities, communications outreach, and services designed to attract, inform, and involve Penn’s alumni.

DMD: Digital Media Design, multidisciplinary undergraduate program, based in SEAS, with curriculum from the School of Design and Annenberg School.

DP: The Daily Pennsylvanian, the independent student newspaper, founded in 1885.

DRIA: Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics.


ENIAC: Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, gave birth to the Information Age in 1946, is worth a walk to the Moore Building for a glimpse of the computer that is over 50 years old.

FICAP: Firearm and Injury Center at Penn, addresses the magnitude and impact of firearm injury and violence.

FLASH: Facilitating Learning About Sexual Health, a student organization.

GAPSA: Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, the University-wide student government for graduate and professional students.


GET-UP: Graduate Employees Together-University of Pennsylvania, a group in support of graduate employee unionization.

GIC: Greenfield Intercultural Center, established in 1984 to address the needs of Penn’s increasingly diverse community.

GRASP Lab: General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception lab, a multi-disciplinary research lab housed in SEAS.

GSE: Graduate School of Education.

HR: Human Resources, the division dedicated to the recruitment, employment, development and retention of faculty and staff.

HUP: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.


IAA: International Affairs Association, organizes two annual conferences: ILMUNC, (Ivy League Model United Nations Conference) the premier model UN for high school students, hosted by Penn; and UPMUNC (University of Pennsylvania Model United Nations Conference) for college students, founded in 1967.

IAST: Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

ICA: Institute of Contemporary Art, founded in 1963 at Penn, in its own building designed by Adele Naude Santos since 1990.

ILI: International Literacy Institute, established in 1994 by UNESCO and Penn’s GSE.

IME: Institute for Medicine and Engineering, interdisciplinary research and education to advance the treatment of disease.

IOA: Institute on Aging, increases the quality and quantity of clinical and basic research as well as educational programs that focus on normal aging and aging-related diseases.

IRCS: Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, fosters collaboration among departments in linguistics, mathematical logic, philosophy, psychology, computer science and neuroscience.

ISC: Information Systems and Computing, Penn’s central computing organization, which provides leadership, infrastructure, standards and services.


ISTAR: Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response, created as a reaction to 9/11, to examine acute threats.

JWS: Joseph Wharton Scholars, program emphasizes the importance of scholarly research and the liberal arts and sciences within the framework of a business education.

KWH: Kelly Writers House, provides a supportive and accessible atmosphere where Penn writers of all kinds can share their works and ideas and enhance their writing skills together.

LDI: Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, a cooperative venture among Penn’s schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and Wharton; a center for health services research, health policy analysis and health care management executive education.


LGBT Center: Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center, established in 1982, one of the oldest such centers in the country.

LIFE: Living Independently For Elders, a program of all-inclusive care to foster independence and health, a healthcare service of the School of Nursing.

LPS: College of Liberal and Professional Studies, the continuing studies and lifelong learning division of SAS.

LRSM: Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter, the center for materials research created to foster collaborative, interdisciplinary research.

LUCY: Loop through University City, SEPTA circulator bus, started in summer of 1999 in conjunction with UCD to provide free transit service to/from 30th Street Station for those affiliated with the local institutions.

MAP: Major Advising Program, resource for students in the College to sample other majors.

MASCA: Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology, part of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

MMETS: Multi-Media and Educational Technology Services, an instructional technology group that is part of SAS Computing and provides audio/visual support for academic and campus events.

MSA: Muslim Student Association, bridges the gap between Muslim students at Penn and the Muslims of the neighborhood.

NBC: New Bolton Center, a 680-acre campus located in Kennett Square, Chester County—home of the School of Veterinary Medicine’s George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals, a working dairy, swine facility, chicken coops, research labs and a farm.

NCAL: National Center on Adult Literacy, established at GSE in 1990 with a major grant from the US Department of Education.


NCOFF: National Center on Fathers and Families, an interdisciplinary policy research center established in 1994 at GSE to improve the well-being of children.

NEC: Nominations and Elections Committee, one of the six branches of student government at Penn.

NSO: New Student Orientation, held at the beginning of the fall semester.

OCP: Orthodox Community at Penn, provides information for the Orthodox Jewish community.

OPIM: Operations & Information Management, a department in the Wharton School.


PAACH: Pan-Asian American Community House, central resource for advising students and student organizations with a particular focus on students of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage.

PAC: Performing Arts Council, support for 40 different student-run performance organizations.

PACE: Programs for Awareness in Cultural Education, established in 1993 to facilitate dialogues across dimensions, at the Greenfield Intercultural Center.

PASS: Penn Arab Student Society, organization geared towards exploring Arab heritage and culture.

PCBI: Penn Center for Bioinformatics, focuses on research and education in the emerging fields of bioinformatics and computational biology.

PCC: Penn Children’s Center, provides child care for children ages three months to five years, administered by Business Services.

PennCAP: Pennsylvania College Achievement Program, works closely with academically talented students, many from low-income or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.

PennSTAR: Penn Specialized Tertiary Aeromedical Response, the Penn Med helicopters that go to accident scenes to rescue trauma victims and transport them to trauma centers, such as HUP, for specialized care.

PFSNI: Penn Faculty and Staff for Neighborhood Issues, an organization established in 1993, drawn from Penn people who reside in the neighborhoods near campus.

PGCF: Penn Graduate Christian Fellowship, faith-based group comprised of graduate students, post docs, and their spouses at Penn and Drexel.

PGFI: Penn Genomics Frontiers Institute, dedicated to the advancement of the interdisciplinary field of genomics research.

PMI: Pennsylvania Muscle Institute, interdisciplinary group of research investigators with a mission to discover the mechanisms of muscle function, muscle disease and motile biological systems, develop technologies for the study of muscle and motile systems, and provide education and training


PPSA: Penn Professional Staff Assembly, a network to serve administrative/technical staff.

PVN: Penn Video Network, closed-circuit cable television and special video event network.

PWC: Penn Women’s Center, founded in 1973.

RAD: Rape Aggression Defense, course for women about awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, and the basics of hands-on defense training.

RAP-Line: Reach-A-Peer Helpline, peer listener program supported by the Office of Health Education.

SAC: Student Activities Council, recognizes, supervises and funds undergraduate activities, funded through the UA.

SAS: School of Arts and Sciences.

SCUE: Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, the oldest existing branch of student government, founded in 1965, works to enhance and expand curricular opportunities and quality of academic experience.

SDM: School of Dental Medicine.

SEAS: School of Engineering and Applied Science.

SEC: Senate Executive Committee, the elected leadership of the Faculty Senate, representing faculty interests to the administration.

SEI: Scheie Eye Institute, serves as the department of ophthalmology of UPHS.

SFCU: Student Federal Credit Union, a non-profit organization founded in 1987 by three Wharton MBA students; the largest student-run credit union in the nation. 

SNAP: Student Nurses at Penn, promotes participation in community service activities in the area of health care and serves as the Penn chapter of the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania.

SOM: School of Medicine.

SON: School of Nursing.

SP2: School of Social Policy & Practice.

SPEC: Social Planning and Events Committee, part of Connaissance.

SPEC-TRUM: Social Planning and Events Committee To Represent Undergraduate Minorities, provides entertainment that addresses the diversity of interests within the Penn community.

STAAR: Students Together Against Acquaintance Rape, a peer health program founded in the late 1980s, part of Office of Health Education.

STAB: Student Theatre Arts Board, the student-elected representatives that serve as a link between the theatre arts students and the faculty.

TSA: Turkish Student Association, provides a platform for bringing Turkish community in Philadelphia together.

UA: Undergraduate Assembly, responsible for advocacy of undergraduate issues to the administration, consists of elected student officers.

UC: University Council, the University-wide advisory body, with representatives from all of the major constituencies.


UCD: University City District, established by a partnership of University City institutions, businesses and community organizations in August 1997, has worked to make the area cleaner and safer, and has also revitalized neighborhoods and been a partner in city-wide events.

UMC: United Minorities Council, an interracial student alliance which sponsors cultural and educational programs to promote cross-cultural awareness.

UPHS: University of Pennsylvania Health System.

UPPD: University of Pennsylvania Police Department, part of the Division of Public Safety.

UPS: Undergraduate Psychology Society, an organization of Penn students interested in exploring the field, sponsors events and publishes a journal, Perspectives in Psychology.

UTV-13: University Television, the student-run station.

VPUL: Vice Provost for University Life, a division that nurtures the interests and aspirations of Penn students through activities, resources and service centers.

VSA: Vietnamese Students Association, a group devoted to promoting an appreciation for Vietnamese culture.


WGA: Wharton Graduate Association, the primary vehicle for coordinating and managing student activities and initiatives, both academic and extracurricular.

WOCAP: Women of Color at Penn, committee organizes the annual Women of Color at Penn Day to award deserving members of the Penn community who have made a difference in the lives of women of color.

WPSA: Weekly-paid Professional Staff Assembly, formerly the A-3 Assembly, representing non-exempt and non-union employees.

WPWP: Wharton Programs for Working Professionals, offers post-baccalaureate programs of study designed for working adults who do not have previous coursework in business.

ZBT: Zeta Beta Tau, Penn’s chapter was founded in 1907 and is the fourth oldest active chapter.



Almanac - October 14, 2008, Volume 55, No. 8