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Welcome Back From the President
September 7, 2010, Volume 57, No. 02

Advancing Penn Together

If you want to experience Penn humming with possibility, nothing beats immersing yourself in campus life at the beginning of any fall semester. Young men and women return refreshed and eager to tackle their coursework and pursue their interests. Faculty members prepare to engage undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in the pursuit of knowledge. Meanwhile, staff members support departments, centers, institutes, and offices across our beautiful campus, doing the indispensable work that moves the University forward. It is, indeed, one of the most energizing times of the year, and I hope you are as excited as I am to begin a new semester together.

This year, we welcome the Class of 2014 to campus—2,416 ambitious, talented, and diverse undergraduate students who hail from every state in the union and 67 countries. As is the case with all upperclassmen, members of the Class of 2014 who are eligible for financial aid receive no-loan aid packages, enabling them to graduate from Penn free of debt. Continuing to support this important initiative during tough economic times is challenging, but we have expanded our programs responsibly and sustainably to meet the needs of our students and their families. Today, the average freshman grant is nearly $35,000—a 67 percent increase in support since 2004.

Increasing access and making Penn affordable for students from low- and middle-income households is just one of our strategic priorities. Our sound financial management and the continued success of our Making History Campaign also have given us a competitive edge in faculty recruitment. We’ve created more than 80 endowed faculty positions, including 21 Penn Integrates Knowledge University professorships. By continuing to attract world-renowned scholars and researchers to the University, we create new outlets for collaboration and for integrating knowledge across disciplines and among our 12 schools.

Putting our knowledge to work remains an evergreen goal. Our commitment is most visible in West Philadelphia, where our students, faculty, and staff work alongside families, community leaders, and local organizations to improve quality of life for all University City residents. Through Civic House, the Fox Leadership Program, the Barbara & Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships, and a host of school-based initiatives, we are bolstering civic engagement, improving community health, and supporting public education, all the while providing undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with precious opportunities to apply what they have learned in the classroom.
Penn also continues to put knowledge to work around the globe. In terms of research collaborations, we have leveraged our strengths in traditional and interdisciplinary fields and have built robust faculty-to-faculty and school-to-school partnerships. In the coming year, we will develop and continue to support mutually-beneficial partnerships, and bring international voices to our campus with events such as the Global Colloquium of University Presidents and the Provost’s Global Forum, featuring noted alumna Rose George. George is the author of this year’s Penn Reading Project selection, The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters, and an advocate for improved sanitation around the world.
While we continue to build local and global partnerships, we also are hard at work transforming our campus, building spaces that enhance the experience of all members of the Penn community.  This fall, we will celebrate the completion of the George A. Weiss Pavilion at Franklin Field, which features a new intercollegiate weight room for our student athletes and the Robert A. Fox Fitness Center for students, faculty, and staff. From the windows inside the Pavilion, fitness buffs can watch the progress we will be making on Shoemaker Green. This new community space will become a gateway to Penn Park, the verdant centerpiece of our Penn Connects master plan.

As our sustainable spaces spread, our research spaces rise. This summer, crews demolished outdated portions of the Law School to make room for Golkin Hall, an improvement that will transform the space of our great Law School and showcase the latest in sustainable design and construction. Meanwhile, we are putting the finishing touches on the Translational Research Building, a state-of-the-art medical research tower that is integrated with both the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, and the Roberts Proton Therapy Center. Our School of Medicine is stronger—and more research- and patient-friendly—than ever.

Penn’s success is the result of the concerted efforts of students, faculty, alumni, staff, and friends who care deeply and work avidly for the University. This year, we will continue to increase access, to integrate knowledge, and to engage locally and globally, and I thank you in advance for all that you will do to support the goals of the Penn Compact. Leading a world-class research and teaching institution is, indeed, a great professional privilege. Working alongside you, the people who truly love the Red and the Blue, is a joy. I greatly look forward to another year of progress together and to making Penn more eminent than ever before.

Amy Gutmann

Almanac - September 7, 2010, Volume 57, No. 02