visit the Web site of the Universitys journal of record, Almanac,
and scroll down the right hand side of the page, you can access the documentary
history of the Universitys just-concluded strategic plan, The Agenda
for Excellence. It begins with the plan itself, dated November 21,
1995 and the product of many months of discussion and debate going back
to the earliest days of the administration of Dr. Judith Rodin CW66.
This document outlines the Agendas nine strategic goalsfrom the overarching
(The University will solidify and advance its position as one of the
premier research and teaching universities in the nation and in the world)
to the down-to-earth (The University will identify and secure the funds
required to support its strategic goals.).
comes Six University Academic Priorities, posted September 24,
1996, which sets out a half-dozen broad areas for special attention: Life
Science, Technology and Policy; American and Comprehensive Democratic
and Legal Institutions; Management, Leadership and Organization; The HumanitiesMeaning
in the 21st Century; The Urban Agenda; and Information Science, Technology
and Society. This was followed by the strategic plans of the Universitys
12 schools and centers, posted on January 21, 1997.
Finally, dated May 1,
2001, is Agenda for Excellence, 1995-2000, which reports, in considerable
detailand very small printon the results of the plan. The prose does
not exactly sing, but what the closely packed columns of type add up to
is a half-decade of impressive and varied activity that has affected virtually
every aspect of the University. For those wishing to avoid eyestrain,
here are some selected highlights from the report:
put the last goal first, about $952 million was raised for the priorities
outlined in the Agenda, out of a total of $1.5 billion raised during the
period. This included about $300 million for financial aid and other student
needs and $543 million for faculty and academic programs.
the available measures, Penn is certainly more in demand today than it
was five years ago. The University has moved up 10 notches in the rankings
published in U.S. News & World Report, going from 16th in 1994
to sixth in the most recent edition. Also, the number of students applying
here has gone up, their quality is higher, and Penn is doing a better
job at convincing them to attend once theyve been accepted. The number
of applicants went from 13,700 to 19,000 for the Class of 2005, and the
yieldthe percentage of accepted students who choose to matriculate at
Pennwas 55.5 percent in 2000 vs. 47 percent in 1994. Meanwhile, average
SAT scores continue to climb, from 1378 to 1412. As the report puts it,
Penn has clearly accomplished the goal of being considered a school of
choice for the ablest undergraduates in the nation and the world.
the experience of undergraduates at Penn more fulfilling was a major focus
of the Agenda, through expanded academic options, increased opportunities
for original research, an enhanced living/learning environment, and more
funding for student financial aid.
to the report, Penn offers more joint and dual-degree programs and opportunities
for cross-disciplinary study than any other institution in Americathanks
to continuing development of Penns traditional strength in this area.
Eight new joint and dual-degree programs have been started since 1995,
and the numerous cross-disciplinary programs include Molecular Life
Sciences, designed for undergraduates seeking careers in the biological
sciences, and Digital Media Design, a collaboration between the School
of Engineering and Applied Science, the Annenberg School for Communication,
and the Graduate School of Fine Arts.
provide more research opportunities for undergraduates, in Fall 2000,
the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) was established
to serve as a clearinghouse for undergraduates interested in participating
in research while at Penn or in applying for post-baccalaureate fellowships.
And the University offers more than 75 academic service-learning courses,
making it one of the nations leaders in these types of courses, which
combine coursework with related real-world community service.
Assessing the Agenda
is Only a Test
the Big Scholarships
Passion for Evidence
Forum to Start a Cultural Dialogue
Talking, People Listening