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Welcome Back From the President

September 6, 2011, Volume 58, No. 02

The Rhythm of Promise and Possibility
Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania

If you want to experience a Penn animated by possibility and promise, then you only need to immerse yourself in the rhythm of campus life at the beginning of any fall semester. Young men and women eagerly return to tackle their studies and follow their interests. Faculty members prepare to engage and challenge students in the pursuit of knowledge, and staff across our campus undertake the indispensable work that moves the University forward.

This is truly one of the most exciting times of the year, and I hope you are as excited as I am as we begin a new semester and inaugurate our Year of Games. Many of our students and faculty have already read Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World. Starting this month, a multi-disciplinary inquiry across all of our schools and many of our resource centers will explore the roles games play in the lives of individuals and communities.

As we experience the familiar rhythms of campus life, we welcome the newest members of our community, the Class of 2015. The most talented and diverse freshman class in Penn’s history, its 2,416 members represent every state in the union and 82 countries around the world.

Among the many extraordinary scholars and leaders who will also be joining our community this fall, we are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Larry Jameson overseeing all of Penn Medicine’s academic programs, research activities, and clinical services as the new executive vice president for the Health System and dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. An internationally renowned researcher in endocrinology, he brings to Penn deep experience and proven success in leading high quality academic and clinical programs.

Additionally, Ezekiel Emanuel, an eminent scholar of bioethics and health policy, has joined the faculty as our 13th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, with appointments in the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School. He will also be the inaugural chair of the Perelman School’s new Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy.

For all the members of our community, one of the most exciting, and anticipated, events this semester is the opening of the remarkable urban oasis of Penn Park. What was once a desolate strip of asphalt, concrete, and parking lots has been converted into an environmentally sustainable park for the entire campus to enjoy. Stretching along the West Bank of the Schuylkill, the 24 acres of Penn Park are extending the familiar landscape of our campus, and adding 20 percent more green space to what is already one of America’s leafiest urban campuses. Formal and informal athletic areas are framed and subdivided by beautiful canopy trees and recreation areas. Exceptional footpaths, picnic spots, playing fields, tennis courts, sunny lawns, and shady groves are designed to foster community among Penn faculty and students. Three footbridges, including one at 30th and Walnut, provide access to the site. With the city skyline as a grand backdrop, pedestrians will have access to walkways and inviting green space along the river. Penn Park, one of the most transformative projects in our history, also reaffirms our commitment to become the most environmentally sustainable urban campus in the country. This remarkable green space, perfect for recreation or relaxation, will add an entirely new dimension to the rhythm of our campus and community. Walk, bike, or run over to Penn Park and behold!

Along with Penn Park, we continue to build the most beautiful, dynamic, and sustainable  campus in so many ways. Golkin Hall, a gorgeous new wing of the Law School, is nearing completion on Sansom Street. We are putting the finishing touches on a Special Collections Center in Van Pelt Library befitting Penn’s magnificent and diverse holdings. The Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, a hub for remarkable scientists and engineers, and the students they teach, mentor, and involve in their research, is rising on Penn’s eastern edge, and it will soon be the first academic building—a stunningly luminescent one—that members of our community and visitors encounter on the Walnut Street gateway to campus. We will also shortly begin work on Shoemaker Green. Located in front of the Palestra, where the tennis courts were before they were moved to Penn Park, it will be a new public commons and a green gateway to Penn Park.

Penn’s achievements, its dynamism and growth, the rhythm of promise and possibility on our campus, are the result of the combined efforts of faculty, students, alumni, staff, and friends who care deeply and work passionately for the University. Leading a world-class research and teaching institution is a great professional privilege. Working alongside you, the people who truly love the Red and the Blue, is not only a privilege, it is a joy, and I look forward to another successful academic year.

Almanac - September 6, 2011, Volume 58, No. 02