|Welcome Back From the President
January 15, 2013,
Volume 59, No. 17
Only the Beginning at Penn
Welcome to a bright New Year at Penn! I hope everyone enjoyed a restful winter break after a fall semester marked by achievements both great and small. I commend each of you for continuing to distinguish our University through your efforts. In 2013, we are poised to make this Penn’s best year yet.
We kick off this new semester with a milestone anniversary to celebrate. Penn’s Making History Campaign came to a formal close on December 31, a little over five years since we first announced our ambitious $3.5 billion goal. With the unflagging support of Penn’s incredible alumni, parents, and friends, we have done much more than make history. We have dared to imagine all that is possible for Penn’s future. All-grant, no-loan undergraduate financial aid; record-shattering alumni engagement; innovative interdisciplinary programs and scholars, including more than 130 newly endowed professorships; stunning sustainable parks and the finest teaching, research, and recreational facilities, and more. We will set aside time this spring to celebrate these and all of Penn’s many other campaign achievements.
But this is not our finish line. We will build on our unprecedented momentum and launch Penn to even greater heights. “The riders in a race do not stop short when they reach a goal,” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes observed. “The work never is done while the power to work remains.”
Penn’s power to accomplish great things is only gaining strength.
You can see that power at work in the story of six-year old Emma Whitehead—the only child of Kari and Tom Whitehead—who had advanced leukemia since she was five. As Emma’s parents watched her grow weaker, hope for their daughter faded. Then Dr. Carl June and his team at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Research Institute offered Emma a new treatment for chronic leukemia. Their reengineered T-cell therapy (which costs far less than a bone marrow transplant) has beaten Emma’s cancer into remission. Now she is back at school, laughing and learning and playing with her friends. She is wonderfully alive.
In classrooms and laboratories across campus, we will pave the way for more stories like Emma’s. We will continue to pursue our core priorities with passion and vigor. We will expand access to a Penn education. We will support faculty and bring the finest minds together across academic disciplines. We will strengthen our engagement at home and abroad. We will find solutions to our society’s most pressing questions and needs.
We also will explore exciting newer priorities, such as fostering better, faster methods for transforming Penn research into life-saving and game-changing applications. The therapies developed by Dr. June’s team may soon become the definitive turning point in the fight against cancer, thanks to an exciting new partnership between Penn and Novartis. Together, we will build a first-of-its-kind Center for Advanced Cellular Therapies, devoted to maximizing the reach of Penn’s intellectual resources. There are similar opportunities in various disciplines all across Penn’s campus.
Another priority is the second phase of our award-winning campus development plan, Penn Connects. In the coming months, we will break ground for the Neural Behavioral Sciences Building, a vital new hub for life sciences at Penn. We will celebrate the opening of a beautiful green space in Spruce Street Plaza, as well as our newly renovated world-class Rare Book and Manuscript Library in Van Pelt. And we will complete the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, the spectacular new headquarters for cutting-edge innovation in this critical interdisciplinary field. All around campus, you will see our continued progress on renovations and beautification, outward signs of exciting developments going on throughout our University.
On the eve of the French Revolution, near a Scottish town named Dumfries, a poet set pen to paper and wrote a song. The poet, Robert Burns, didn’t write just any song. “Auld Lang Syne” would become famous the world over as the song synonymous with New Year’s, with toasting to dear friends and fond memories as the clock strikes midnight. It’s a lovely sentiment, but with the continued efforts and exceptional talents of the Penn community, I know it isn’t just fond memories I toast—it’s Penn’s magnificent future. This is just the beginning. Thank you once again for all you do on behalf of Penn. Have a great semester.