Penn has always managed to “do more with less,” Gutmann says. “We are a very efficient and effective university in the use of our resources, and donors like that. So, if you can do more with lessas we doimagine what we can do with more.”
While Penn has “found a way of competing at the very top with a relatively smaller per capita endowment, it is not easy to do thatand it’s virtually impossible [going forward] unless we are successful in raising more money,” Gutmann adds. Faculty support, facilities, and financial aid are all “resource-intensive areas, and Penn needs more in all of them.
“The true measure of our ability to raise money is the worthiness of what we’re raising it for, and the worthiness of our goals for Pennthe value-added, if you will, of a contribution to Penn,” says Gutmann. Adequately communicating that “value-added” requires “being specific about the University’s highest-level goals and what the impacts of contributions to them will be.”
Reasons for Giving
Funds raised in the campaign will play a crucial role in the eastern expansion of campus. “Penn is one of only a few great urban research universities that can expect to increase campus green space and recreational and athletic space over the next decade,” Gutmann says. “Why is that important? Well, we are an educational institution in the broadest sense. We are a living and learning communityand living at Penn is part of the learning experience. It’s very important that we provide our students the kind of athletic and recreational space that allows them to grow in their talents physically and intellectually.”
Also, while residential projects done in association with private developers are adding significant numbers of additional beds close to campus, “there is enormous demand for a new College House,” Gutmann says.
“The new College House is going to create a second quadrangle right at the academic core of our campus for 350 students to live and learn, and many more students and faculty to congregate and exchange ideas and, frankly, socialize,” she adds. “We are not just a place that students come to go to class but a place that students come to really get a sense of how they can live a full life in a vibrant intellectual communityand that’s what the new College House will enable us to do better.”
And the academic buildings singled out as campaign priorities all target areas in which “Penn can have a major impact, but only with new facilities.”
Penn’s nanoscience faculty is rated No. 1 by the major magazine in the field, “but we’re nowhere on the map” when it comes to facilities, Gutmann says. Similarly, the proposed neural- and behavioral-science building will provide an integrated space for Penn’s leadership in the life sciences. “Brain-to-mind-to-behavior is the key connection for the life sciences to make moving forward, and we have a stellar faculty in neuroscience,” Gutmann says. Penn’s biological basis of behavior (BBB) major is a leading program of its kind, not to mention one of the most popular undergraduate majors, she notes. “But we do not have the facilities to bring those faculty and students together on our campus to teach and to do the cutting-edge research that will catapult us ahead in neuroscience and the behavioral sciences.”
Finally, Penn Medicine ranks second nationally in NIH research funding, but the University hasn’t kept up in facilities construction. In fact, Gutmann says, “we’ve fallen sorely behind.” Besides providing a state-of-the-art facility for advancing “translational” research to move new discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside, the planned medical research building will also be co-sited with the new Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine and Roberts Proton Therapy Center, scheduled to open in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
Since becoming president, Gutmann has given strengthening and expanding Penn’s financial aid offerings increased prominence. Such assistance, she says, is “critical to our being able to fulfill Franklin’s vision of a university in which the best and the brightest can come regardless of their family background [or] socioeconomic status.”
But that commitment comes at a cost. Penn needs to build its endowment over time to provide the resources necessary for need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid, says Gutmann. “Until we do, we’re going to be taking a lot of money for financial aid out of our operating budget at the expense of other high-priority needs.”
As financial aid has been emphasized as one of the University’s highest priorities during Gutmann’s administration, “we’ve raised enough money to underwrite new programs,” such as providing only grants rather than loans to students from families earning less than $60,000, she points out [“Gazetteer,” May|June]. “As we raise more money across the span of the campaign, we’re going to be able to do more for financial aidat the same time as we make the quality of education we provide even greater.”
At the graduate level, the University must have “the kind of financial aid that eases the burden on our graduate and professional students as well, who often graduate with huge loan burdens,” Gutmann adds. Since graduate and professional students are typically no longer dependent on their families, most of them need aid.
“Financial aid for these students is critical in two ways: One is to compete for the very best, and two is to make it possible, when a professional student graduates, for that student to take the most meaningful job, rather than the most lucrative job,” she says. “Sometimes they’re the same, but they’re often not.”
First and foremost, funds targeted to faculty support will go to establish more endowed professorships. One signature program, the Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professorships, in which faculty hold appointments in multiple schools of the University, has already had an impact. “We have recruited five of the most spectacular faculty members in the world to Penn, and those faculty members are already joining with their eminent colleagues on the faculty here and energizing the campus even more,” she says.
“Just as we’re raising money for the [PIK] professorships, so we’re raising money for endowed professorships across all of our schools,” Gutmann adds. “The most eminent faculty want to have a named professorship. And we have hundreds of eminent faculty members at Penn, and if we’re going to retain those faculty against the competition, and if we’re going to recruit more of those faculty, we need endowed professorships.”
More endowed professorships also aid in increasing the overall number of faculty, Gutmann says, improving the University’s faculty-student ratio, “which is very important to us.” The Law School looks to benefit especially from adding new faculty. “Our law school is eminent but too small for its ability to really contribute to the highest-priority areas in law,” Gutmann says. “It’s done a great job with a small faculty, but it definitely needs to expand. And contributions to endowed professorships enable it to do that.”
Increased funding for programmatic resources, she adds, will help fund faculty who are creating interdisciplinary programs in neuroscience and other high-priority areas.
Cutting across all goals of the campaign is a dedication to bringing Penn’s human and intellectual capital to bear on the world’s problems. “What distinguishes Penn is impact, and our impact is local as well as global,” says Gutmann.
The campaign will bring Philadelphians more jobs through expanded healthcare facilitiesnot to mention world-class health care for the region’s residentsas well as more faculty to work with civic leaders and more students to serve schools and neighborhood organizations, she adds.
But while the University’s impact starts in West Philadelphia, it doesn’t end there. Penn has the “capacity, with our interdisciplinary, inter-school strength, to address many of the most challenging problems in the world today,” Gutmann says. “Whether it be AIDS in Africa, or obesity in America, or ethnic conflict around the world, we have Penn faculty who are collaborating on research to address those problems and engaging our students in them.”
Considering all that, “I think it should be irresistible for anyone to give to Penn,” says Gutmann. “Ben Franklin said an investment in knowledge pays the greatest dividends, and we are demonstrating that to be the case.”
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©2007 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 11/09/07