Carnegie Award will fund student research and travel

Penn President Amy Gutmann

Penn President Amy Gutmann was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Corporation’s Academic Leadership Award last fall, and she has now announced that the $500,000 in funds will go toward new student research, travel and educational opportunities.

Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) will receive support to expand the existing summer research experience for undergraduates. The new support builds on CURF’s Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring program, which currently provides summer support to students after their freshman year to conduct research in close collaboration with a faculty member. The new program will provide support for a similar program to take place after student’s sophomore undergraduate year.

“Increasing support for undergraduate research is an important educational priority,” says Gutmann. “We are especially enthusiastic about increasing support for rising juniors since that is the time when many students focus their academic passions and develop a stronger interest in research.” 

The award also allow Penn’s Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) to expand travel funds for graduate and professional students in offsetting the costs of attending professional meetings and conferences. 

“This infusion of funds could not come at a more important and appropriate time for our graduate students,” says Vice Provost for Education Andrew Binns.  “While many Penn schools and programs, as well as GAPSA, already provide travel support to students, the economic downturn has created challenges for travel budgets across campus. In an especially tight job market, attending conferences and meetings, building professional networks and enhancing presentation skills and experience become even more important.”

Gutmann has indicated that a smaller portion of the award will be used to support internship opportunities for Penn students at the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues in Washington. Gutmann was appointed chair of the commission by U.S. President Barack Obama last November. The details of that program will be announced once the Commission formally begins its work later this year.

The Carnegie Academic Leadership Award recognizes presidents and chancellors who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in undergraduate education, both teaching and research; the development of major interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs that aim to bridge the gulf between the theoretical and the practical; focused university outreach to their local communities and cooperative efforts with business, education and civic leaders on initiatives such as K-12 school reform; and the expansion and improvement of international initiatives and global engagement. The Carnegie Corporation Board of Trustees honors the awardees with grants of $500,000 each to be used at the leader’s discretion toward his or her academic priorities at their institutions.

Penn was recognized for the progress made in implementing the Penn Compact, the strategic vision that Gutmann unveiled in 2004 during her inaugural address. The Compact has increased access and financial aid programs for students, attracted interdisciplinary teacher-scholars to the Penn campus and expanded teaching, research and professional activities across Philadelphia and around the world.

Originally published on February 4, 2010