COUNCIL State of the University
November 5, 2013, Volume 60, No. 12
Penn Compact 2020
At the October 30 University Council meeting, the main item on the agenda was the annual State of the University, in which President Amy Gutmann spoke about the Penn Compact 2020.
There was also some time devoted to the Open Forum where a couple students raised issues of concern for safety of employees at factories operated by Penn licensees and another student suggested using the Penn Course Review and the Center for Teaching and Learning as a metric for teacher improvement.
President Amy Gutmann
A Snapshot of Penn Compact 2020: Inclusion, Innovation and Impact
I thought I would take this opportunity to give you a snapshot—and it’s only a snapshot—of our strategic vision for Penn for the rest of this decade. It’s fundamentally a renewal of the Penn Compact we’re calling the Penn Compact 2020, because the year 2020 will be the next time that we will need a new strategic vision. It’s also obviously a deliberate pun on 20/20 vision, indicating the way it’s supposed to be a really focused vision for the University, building on the Penn Compact. It highlights the three goals that Penn is focused on, and leads on, as a university: inclusion, innovation and impact. It’s a vision that all of the deans and the center directors can use to frame their more specific goals. So what I’m going to do today is just focus on some of my highest priority goals for the University this year and moving forward.
This is very much a living document; it’s going to change over time. But not in its highest priority goals—inclusion, innovation and impact—these are what I call evergreen goals. However I expect their specifics to change and to be informed by meetings I have with faculty, students, deans and my team. We are building on a decade of progress; the Penn Compact 2020 outlines bold next steps, some you’ll be familiar with: increasing access to Penn’s exceptional resources; integrating knowledge across academic disciplines; and engaging nationally, locally and globally to bring the benefits of Penn’s research, teaching and service to individuals and communities at home and around the world.
So here is the first goal: access. We are committed to meeting the full financial need of undergraduates with all-grant, no-loan aid packages. We are now focusing on expanding the Penn World Scholars program, which is the need-based financial aid for our international students. Remember, we are need-blind with regard to all students from North America. We don’t have the resources to be need-blind with regard to all international students, but once an international student is admitted, we meet their full need with all-grant, no-loan policies. So this is to say, that as we have increased our capacity for financial aid for international students, we can admit more and more international students who are from low- and middle-income families.
An equally important part of financial aid is to strengthen graduate and professional financial aid. Every school has a different set of needs for its professional and graduate students, and we are fully committed to raising money to make us very competitive for the very best graduate and professional students, so we have increased our packages there as well.
A new high priority goal is to increase diversity and excellence at all levels with efforts such as the Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence. We also are committed to diversifying our staff, another important part of increasing access at Penn.
A completely new high priority initiative is to advance open learning at Penn with high quality online education initiatives that promote the most innovative teaching. We want not only to create online courses for our own students, but for the world. We now have over 1.5 million enrollees in our Coursera courses.
Although there are about 100 Coursera universities, Penn accounts for roughly one quarter of all enrollments. That speaks volumes to the popularity of our faculty online as well as in the classroom.
But we also want to do research on what works best in innovative online education. There is almost no research being done on that. The Provost and I are going to be moving forward trying to recruit people from our Graduate School of Education, and perhaps recruit some people to Penn who actually do research on what parts of online education really are working the best. We have a great research base to do that. So that’s a snapshot of increasing access for the sake of inclusion.
Now we move on to integrating knowledge by increasing Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professorships, and other endowed Professorships to recruit and retain the most eminent and collaborative interdisciplinary faculty. This now includes a new initiative that we started just last year with the Faculty Diversity Action Plan, as well as our Presidential-Term Professorships. So this in some ways corresponds to the financial aid program for students, but is aimed at faculty. It’s an evergreen priority. We need to raise more money for endowed Professorships to recognize our great faculty. That’s the first pillar of integrating knowledge.
The second is to build highly collaborative, inter-school research and teaching programs, such as Penn nanoscience. Let me see a show of hands. How many of you have seen the Singh Center for Nanotechnology on Walnut Street? Great. I’m told Architectural Digest will be featuring that building on its cover. It’s just a stunning building. With Mark Allen’s leadership we plan to have a stunning inter-disciplinary nanoscience program at Penn, one that’s second to none in the world.
That’s something we’re going to build over the next few years—and it’s just one example. There’s neuroscience, there are humanities initiatives and the online education initiative I mentioned earlier will also of course be an inter-school venture. We want Penn to be the place where faculty and students come to when they want to do inter-school, inter-disciplinary, really high-impact initiatives.
Finally, under integrating knowledge, we’re expanding Penn’s culture and practice of innovation through what we now call—we haven’t announced this publicly yet, but it has a nice ring to it, and we have a real plan behind it—the Pennovation Center, where Penn discoveries find rapid application to pressing social needs. There is a plan that former Senior Vice Provost for Research Steven Fluharty (now our dean of the School of Arts & Sciences) and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli were charged with developing through meeting with a group of high level university people. I asked them to give me a plan for making Penn the best in technology transfer commercialization in a way that incentivizes our students and faculty to bring innovations to market. This includes everything from start-up ventures to having discoveries that then get sold to pharmaceutical and commercial ventures. Sometime this spring we will announce the creation of the Pennovation Center at Penn South Bank. Many of you know this land parcel as the DuPont Marshall Labs, which we bought during the recession. It’s 23 acres, it’s not in our academic core; our buildings there are not like the Singh Center for Nanotechnology. They are not built for all times by famous architects. They’re inexpensive spaces, where faculty and students can do messy things and experiment. So we’ll open an incubator there, which will be great for Penn and great for Philadelphia. At the same time, we’re going to transition the Center for Technology Transfer into the Penn Center for Innovation, which will be what we call a “Hub and Spoke Model,” where there’s a university-wide hub for one-stop-innovation-shopping, and then the different schools have particular experts—they’ll be the spokes—much like we do now in Development and Alumni Relations. Stay tuned, this is a really important means of segueing innovation into impact, and we want to have that on our campus. So we’ll have prizes for students, and competitions—which we already have some of—but we’ll raise the visibility of those and do other things along those lines. So that’s a snapshot of integrating knowledge moving forward.
Engaging Locally, Nationally and Globally
The third pillar of Penn Compact is to engage locally, nationally and globally. Our evergreen goal here is implementing our Master Plan for the Campus, which is now in its second phase, Penn Connects 2.0. Duringthe first phase, we built or renovated 4.8 million square-feet of space on campus, and we haven’t slowed down. We want to make Penn the most beautiful, sustainable and innovative urban campus in America. We’re well on our way to doing that, and we want to have vibrant living and learning spaces for our students.
Speaking of which, I invite you all to come to Hill Field on Friday, where we’ll break ground for the new College House, and we’ll celebrate that with food and various giveaways.
What we’re doing with Penn Connects is creating an urban campus where you come and you see Penn Park or Weiss Pavilion or Singh Nanotechnology and in the future you’ll see a Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, and you’ll know just by seeing these buildings, that this is where you want to be. I have talked to so many students over the last 10 years and asked them, Why did you decide to come to Penn? And those students, who hadn’t known about Penn, because they didn’t have parents who came to Penn, said: I came to this campus and I fell in love with the place. In an urban campus, that’s very special: to have a green campus, which also has state-of-the-art athletic facilities and academic buildings, and we’re going to continue doing this with Penn Connects 2.0. So that’s the evergreen goal of engagement.
A new high priority is enabling Penn faculty and students to advance knowledge-based public policy through focused, inter-school programs. At the end of last year, we created a Penn-Wharton Public Policy Initiative to bring together faculty and students from all over the University who want to focus on public policy through the lens of business, economics and finance. How can business, economics and finance inform public policy? This has become more and more important in today’s world as government and business are intricately intertwined. All you have to do is think about what’s happening with the sequester. I don’t have to tell you that it’s important for a university with a first-rate business school to use that expertise to inform public policy. We want to build on that, and we have some very generous donors who want to help us do that. We have an office now in Washington, DC, where we want to build the visibility and the strength, both with faculty and with student engagement.
And then, third and finally for this presentation, we want to bring the world to Penn, and Penn to the world. Both for our faculty and our students and visitors, through broad-ranging University-wide programs, including the Perry World House, which will be on Locust Walk and 38th Street, and the Penn-Wharton China Center, which will be in Beijing.
There are many other things we are going to do, but I want to leave a lot of time for your questions and comments, so I’ll just summarize the Penn Compact 2020. There are three big outcomes: access leads to inclusion, integration to innovation and engagement to impact. If we at Penn can show the world and ourselves that we are the most inclusive, innovative and impactful university, we will have done our job well. I thank you for your attention, and I think I did it in under my allotted time, to leave as much time for any comments and questions.
Question and Answer
Q: Thank you Dr. Gutmann for explaining that vision to us; I think it was very useful to hear a little about Penn Compact 2020. Looking at the last piece you were speaking about, engaging Penn on a global stage and the Perry World House and the Penn-Wharton China Center, what plans are there to engage the undergraduate population in Penn’s global discourse?
A: The Perry World House is designed for students and faculty. What we’re doing is designing it so there is a world forum in the middle of our campus where students and faculty can engage. It could be student-initiated, it could be faculty-initiated, but we’ll have big events in the world forum. Invited dignitaries will come. And then there are going to be smaller rooms, smaller interactive seminar rooms for faculty and students to gather to talk about global issues, and there is going to be significant programming. I’m presenting this as it is, a work in progress. There is a plan for a set of programs for Perry World House. So it will be the international hub and an academic hub to engage students and faculty in discussion on global issues.
Follow up Q: Is there a plan to expand this vision, and make it a hub for all international discourse, beyond academic? So just as we’d see in, for instance, the LGBT Center, we house the Lambda, which is one of the student groups here, out of that center. And in the Women’s Center, we have the Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women; to me it makes sense to house a student group on international issues to ensure we get that engagement and dialogue going.
A: Right now, given the space constraints, there isn’t enough space to house everything that’s international. There is going to be space for faculty, a director, and visitors and lots of interactive room for students and faculty. But if you think about it, international discourse—both academic and extracurricular—is a huge proportion of what goes on in this campus, and international students—just at an undergraduate level—are now 12 to 13 percent of our undergraduate student body. It’s huge, it’s much bigger than one hub could accommodate. So we’re not going to be able to have offices for everything international there. But it will be the sort of vibrant academic space, and it’ll also be a social space. I think students could do things that are academically oriented but have fun things attached to it. There isn’t going to be space for offices of organizations per se, there’s just not enough space in it. But we did have a meeting earlier today with a group of students, and VPUL said it could find space for the International Students Association in a space that would be online sooner than Perry World House. So we’re working on that too.
Q: As we develop that former DuPont site, do we have plans to increase Penn transit to go there?
A: Yes, we definitely plan to have some transit go there, and we’re working on an actual design of the site because we also want it to be easy access, we have that very much in mind. And we’re actually going to invest some time and effort in making that site even more attractive to people and we hope again there will be naming opportunities for generous donors. We want arts and culture to be there too. There are a lot of messy arts and culture activities that don’t have good space, because space on our academic core is expensive space. There’ll be opportunities for arts and culture there as well, kind of start-up things. We do need to figure out the transportation, and it’s something that we’re working on. By the way, it really is as close as you can be to Penn on the other side of the river. But we do need some transit there, and right now, there’s not enough activity there to warrant the amount of transit that we hope we’ll eventually be able to have.
Q: It is so exciting to hear about the Pennovation Center, just a follow-up on that. I had seen a report last year; it was released on University Entrepreneurship, one of the first reports, sort of analyzing the space, and Penn was listed as one of the top six institutions that companies try to spin out of, and I wanted to ask you a little more about support services that will be available to students because one of the challenges identified in the report, is that while we’re a place that many companies try to come out or spin out from, there’s been a challenge in terms of support, and most of the support has been focused on faculty spin-outs as opposed to student spin-outs.
A: If you go back 10 years ago, when I first came in and took a careful look at Penn, we were not helping faculty do what they needed to do. So we began by hiring someone really good; Mike Cleare came and we really ramped it up for the faculty. At the same time, students are really interested in doing this, so now we’re starting to ramp up for students as well. By having an all-in Center for Innovation we want to be student-friendly and faculty-friendly—we think they really go together. This means that now students, like faculty, may have particular takes and we can accommodate that. Engineering students have somewhat different needs than Wharton students, or students in biology and Arts & Sciences or Nursing students. So we have a plan to be friendly for faculty and students alike, and we want to draw students and faculty in, in ways that are still yet to be developed. But the plan is there, and now we have this year to make it happen. This is a plan for 2014 and forward, so this is the year, and if you have any suggestions contact Dawn Bonnell, our Vice Provost for Research. Just shoot her an email, and tell her what you think would really help on the student-side, because our goal is to be student- as well as faculty-friendly and helpful. By friendly I mean helpful, not just smiling; I mean we’re going to do things that will actually help. We intend to be friendly in the way a computer is user-friendly, so you can really use it and get something done. By the way, I’m glad you mentioned the surveys because most recently there was a survey on a blog that looked at the universities whose graduates spin out the most companies and are the most sought after. The University of Pennsylvania—not just Wharton—is up there, often in the top five, sometimes in the top ten, but we’re way up there on that. So we just want to help continue that, and we would love to be number one.
Q: My name is Urja from the Penn Political Coalition, and I just wanted to commend the emphasis on engagement with public policy with the Penn-Wharton Public Policy Initiative, and kind of the push toward engaging students in public service moving forward, and two questions I had spinning off from that (1) whether there were any plans to engage students in the DC office of the Penn-Wharton Public Policy Initiative, I know it’s very focused on the transfer of the academic research that’s done at Penn to policy makers in Washington, but also using that as a hub to connect students to issues of national engagement (2) whether there would be any connection between the Penn-Wharton Public Policy Initiative and the Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics coming online in a few years.
A: The answer is yes we do, and Mark Duggan, who is directing the Penn-Wharton Public Policy Center, definitely wants to engage students as interns and is already doing that, and we want to build that up over time. And yes, the Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics will be a natural place; it is a physical center on Walnut Street, where Ann Taylor Loft is now. That is a historic, beautiful bank building, we’re going to keep the beautiful façade and gut the inside and basically double the size of that building. That will take a couple of years to do, but that will be a place where political science students and economic students will congregate and it will have a natural affinity to our Public Policy Initiatives. Remember, the Penn-Wharton Public Policy Initiative is the new one, but we also have the Annenberg Public Policy Center, we have Fels and Professor Tom Sugrue is doing an interdisciplinary public policy center. We’re going tp develop all of these because they’re different cuts into public policy, and we need Penn to be strong on all of them. We’re going to make a virtue out of the fact that we don’t have a separate school that does public policy by engaging all the schools in public policy. There’s every reason why Nursing should be—and is—engaged in public policy. The same holds true for Medicine, Engineering, Wharton and of course Arts & Sciences. Again, this is something we are going to develop in the next few years, and really focus on it. Great question, thank you.
Q: Coming from the School of Social Policy & Practice, in particular, a lot of our students engage locally, with residents from Philadelphia. I was just wondering, there seems to be a strong emphasis on engaging globally, but could you speak more to the local engagement and any opportunities or plan there are to kind of enhance our relationships with communities within the City of Philadelphia?
A: Right, in my longer presentation, I have two slides on two of our incredibly important local engagement initiatives on the education front. One is the Penn Alexander School, and the other which is again pretty new and we’re ramping it up is the Lea School, where we’re going to start with kindergarten and first grade, and really make a big impact on the Lea School in partnership with the school district. In addition to that, I’m thinking of some new initiatives for local, national and global engagement for our students, and in addition to that we have the School of Social Policy & Practice, the Law School, all of our medical health schools that are doing incredible amounts of local engagement, which I want to build on. So we’re always looking. I always say that the first form of engagement is local, and if we can’t do it well locally, we shouldn’t even think of globally. But we do it really well, so we’re engaging more and more of our students, and I’m focusing a lot on the intersection between our educational programs and local engagement because that’s where we have our comparative expertise. For those of you who don’t know, SP2 does hundreds of thousands of hours of local service every year and partners really well with the other schools in local engagement, so we’re going to build on that.
Q: In terms of advancing open learning, will there be any room for social and civic applications to Penn’s increasing role in Coursera? I asked a similar question to the Provost last night, but in terms of expanding those partnerships with Philadelphia schools and providing the students with the basic needs that quite frankly now, because of the current crisis in Philadelphia, they’re not being given: computer literacy, financial literacy, things that are courses that we offer here, many through online learning, possibly expanding our reach into Philadelphia schools and providing for what those schools can’t offer those students.
A: This is a really important part of the expertise of our Graduate School of Education. It’s not as if these skills transfer effortlessly. Take my field—political science or ethics and public policy—I’m pretty good at teaching college students, I’ve done pretty well that way. But I couldn’t just transfer it to teaching in an inner-city high school, a third grade class, for example. So what you’re asking is to what extent will our online learning transfer into helping local Philadelphia schools. It does help at the highest level, to have someone like Rob Ghrist, whose course on single variable Calculus is already being used now by some local high schools. But it really takes the Graduate School of Education and experts in K-12 education to figure out how what we’re doing online can help in the kind of things that Khan Academy is doing. The things that we do have to be the things that our faculty has expertise in, and also things that we can partner at. This year, for the first year, we have a new partnership with the KIPP Academies, and this year we admitted 18 KIPPsters. There may be some KIPPsters in this room, The KIPP Academy is really expert at K-12 education for students as I was—the first generation in my family to go to college. We’re really good at identifying the talent, bringing them here and supporting them while they’re here and launching them. What we’re not generally good at is K-12 education, but our Graduate School of Education is, and what the Provost and I want to do is create a teaching and learning center for online education, which our Graduate School of Education will be involved in. And they could actually see what works well online, and what could work well with our local public schools. It would have to be in partnership with the Philadelphia School System but we have very good relations with them and the new Superintendent Hite, is terrific so it’s something aspirational for us to do. And that is why I mentioned the Lea School. We are working with the Lea School now, and there is a graduate of the Graduate School of Education who is the principal of the Lea School. We’re creating a curriculum now. I think online is really the frontier, but we don’t know for certain, and we’re going to do some more research on it.
Q: This is all very exciting; I am wondering though, if when we talk about global engagement, we are really talking about the English language only? If global studies means that everything is conducted in English and here, I am concerned, because of the Federal government, the uncertainty about funding for our language centers, and that’s not just European languages, but also less commonly taught languages. What is Penn’s plan to keep the diversity of language learning alive and well supported at Penn?
A: We have, as you know, one of the most vibrant and diverse language studies programs among any of the major universities, and we’re absolutely committed to that. Unfortunately, there is a threat in Washington of defunding so much because of the sequester. And in my role on the AAU, where I am now vice-chair, we are speaking out on how important it is to have language education. You can’t predict which language it will be. As you know, when 9/11 happened, our government didn’t have enough Arabic-speaking people to call upon. So this is really important, and it’s really important that the social sciences and humanities not be defunded because everything that we do, public policy wise, requires you to understand foreign cultures, and requires foreign language training. Online is wonderful for foreign languages. Now some of the Coursera courses are being translated into Russian, Chinese, and other languages. But you’re absolutely right, the actual federal funding for these programs is under threat. And so, it is my role, and the role of other University Presidents, to speak out for the importance of that for our country, and not just for intellectual life, although I do think it is important for intellectual life. I think it is a very wonderful way of getting insights into other cultures is to get an understanding through their languages.
Q: Dr. Gutmann, can you comment a little bit more about the trends in graduate and professional student financial aid, and how this has been in the past and what we can expect to see in the future?
A: When I first became president the trustees asked me what my highest priorities for fundraising were. I said first, second and third: financial aid. Graduate financial aid is the hardest thing to raise money for because for a lot of alumni loyalty tends to be towards your undergraduate institution. Now this is changing, but often in the past, loyalty tended to stay with the undergraduate experience. I said graduate and professional aid is the hardest to raise, and so if you have any spare, you know, hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars, please give it to graduate and professional financial aid. We have really increased the stipends for graduate and professional students, over the course of the campaign we doubled the amount of financial aid that we raised for undergraduate and graduate and professional students. One thing that continues to be an evergreen priority is to continue to have competitive stipends for our graduate and professional students. When Raymond Perelman so generously gave 225 million dollars, the record gift for naming a school of medicine, we immediately said that we would use part of that money to increase the financial aid for our medical school students. Every single school in this university, every dean, has two big priorities. One is to increase financial aid for their students: graduate and professional for eight of the schools, and for four of the schools, graduate aid plus undergraduate aid, and to increase endowed Professorships for faculty because it becomes a virtuous circle. The best faculty get the best students and the best students attract the best faculty. So that remains a very, very high priority.