Returning to the podium as the moment of Gutmann’s formal investiture approached, Riepe noted that it was “heartening that the speakers thought we made a good choice.” Emphasizing that that was an opinion shared by every member of the search committee, he called Gutmann “the right person, at the right time, in the right place.”

Quoting 19th-century poet and author James Russell Lowell that, “It was in making education not only common to all, but in some sense compulsory on all, that the destiny of the free republics of America was practically settled,” Riepe said that Gutmann’s “entire career as a teacher, scholar, and moral and political philosopher has been centered on the critical linkage of education and democracy” referenced there. “She has thought long and deeply about the ways education can strengthen the institutions of democracy, and now she will lead Penn to a position of pre-eminence in precisely that vital charge.”

Gutmann’s enthusiastic acceptance of the Penn presidency when it was offered to her stemmed from a recognition that Penn is ideally suited to rise to that ideal, Riepe added. “From our first institutional breath under Mr. Franklin’s guidance, we have sought to link theory and practice. While many of our peers were veritable cloisters, Penn strove to educate and train the citizens of a feisty little colony with a will to independence and greatness.”

Calling the “marriage of Amy Gutmann and Penn” something that was “clearly meant to be,” Riepe held up the President’s Badge, a silver medallion and chain created in 1981 that signifies the authority of Penn’s chief executive, and placed it over Gutmann’s head. “By the authority of the trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, I hereby invest you as president,” he said. Then they kissed in congratulations, as the audience rose to its feet and applauded thunderously.

Continuing the symbolism of office, Riepe then handed over the keys to the University to Gutmann. “More than 100 years ago, Pennsylvania Governor Daniel Hartman Hastings delivered these three keys to Charles Custis Harrison on his induction as provost of the University,” he said. “With these keys, symbols of the custodianship of this great university, I entrust the University of Pennsylvania to your sure leadership. Congratulations.”

Stepping to the podium after another round of applause to make her inaugural address, Gutmann joked of the keys, “I don’t know what they open—but we will find out.” (The full text of her speech follows this article.)

When she had first accepted the presidency of Penn, Gutmann told the audience, she was asked by a colleague at Princeton, “where I had worked happily for 28 years,” whether she knew what she was getting into. In answer, she cited attractions such as Penn’s “beautiful campus in the heart of a great American city,” the University’s distinguished faculty and dedicated staff, “extraordinarily talented and energetic students,” and Founder Benjamin Franklin, whose “pragmatic vision for higher education is no less essential today than it was in 1749” when he published his Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania.

While all that was enough to reassure her colleague, Gutmann continued, there was something she hadn’t known —“the people of Penn, and what you believed about your university.” In the four months since she took office, that has changed. “You have informed me, you have advised me, and you have even fed me,” she said. “But most of all you have helped me envision how Penn can better meet our responsibilities to higher education and the world. That is our mandate. I say our because I consider you not only partners but now part of my extended public family.”

At the mention of family Gutmann looked down at her husband and daughter to thank them, and recalled her parents, who “instilled in me a great love of learning, a commitment to defending the dignity of all people, and the confidence to pursue my dreams.

“What better way,” she added, “to uphold these ideals than to serve as Penn’s eighth president!”

After calling on Penn’s former presidents to stand “so we can all show our appreciation for your great service to the University of Pennsylvania,” Gutmann turned to the question of what comes next: “How do we build on the progress that Penn has made? How do we rise from excellence to eminence in all our core endeavors?” If at moments before this her speech had been lighthearted, now there was a new firmness mixed with the enthusiasm in her voice as she leaned over the podium for emphasis or gestured as if to hold the University in her hands in presenting her concept of a “Penn Compact.”

Noting that universities have a responsibility to use knowledge to serve society, she sketched in some of the problems that make this “a daunting task”—from the millions who lack health care or access to education, to politicians who demonize opponents rather than debate issues, to a civic life that “fails to make a virtue of our diversity” and a larger world that “is even more dangerously divided” in which “ignorance and hatred create murderous schisms that show no signs of narrowing.”

In contrast to this spirit of division, on Penn’s campus, she said, “I was inspired by a University community that is much more united than our society … and to a greater degree than even some people at Penn recognize.” The “Penn Compact,” she added, is a way to “put that unity on firmer ground.”

Based on the shared understanding that “Divided we fail. United we flourish,” the Compact encompasses three principles: to increase access to a Penn education through more financial aid to undergraduates and graduate students, to better integrate knowledge from different disciplines and professional perspectives in research and teaching, and to engage locally and globally.

For her own part, Gutmann promised to engage in the full life of the university, encourage students to make the most of their time here, support faculty in pursuing their work, lead the staff in creating the ideal climate for teaching and learning, and strive to keep alumni “ever more closely connected with the life of our University.”

Fulfilling the Penn Compact “won’t be easy,” she said. “There will be challenges. But we will meet them and we will succeed.”

After a final round of applause, Chaplain Gipson stepped to the podium again for the benediction, calling on everyone to “depart this place with quickened minds and blazing hearts for the Penn Compact. Amen.”

Then the procession reversed course, led this time by University Secretary Leslie Kruhly, followed by Gutmann and Riepe, and the rest of the audience, who filed out onto Spruce Street to begin the new era.—J.P.

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2004 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 10/29/04

A Marriage “Meant to Be”
Amy Gutmann Inaugurated
as Penn's Eighth President

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Greetings, President Gutmann
Words of welcome from Penn’s faculty, students, administration and staff, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, learned societies, and institutions of higher education.

Inaugural Speech:
From Excellence to Eminence

Rising to the Challenges
of a Diverse Democracy