Penn President Amy Gutmann honored with 2009 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award

Penn President Amy Gutmann


Penn President Amy Gutmann has been awarded the 2009 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award, recognizing four leaders in higher-education who have shown extraordinary commitment to education, research, civic engagement and global outreach. Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, announced the 2009 award recipients on Monday, Sept. 21.

“I am truly honored to be among the ranks of the distinguished current and past recipients of this award,” Gutmann said, “and I am especially proud to accept it on behalf of the eminent faculty, students and staff of Penn. It is particularly meaningful to me that the award honors the legacy of Andrew Carnegie, a great Pennsylvanian, and a tireless advocate of the public’s right to knowledge. This Academic Leadership Award inspires all of us at Penn to continue pursuing our vision of providing world-class teaching, research and service with the goal of bettering the world.”  

The other award recipients are Leon Botstein, president of Bard College; Scott Cowen, president of Tulane University; and William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. The honor comes with individual grants of $500,000, to be used at the recipients’ discretion to further academic priorities.

The Carnegie award recognizes presidents and chancellors who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to excellence in undergraduate education, teaching and research; the development of major interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs aimed to bridging the gulf between the theoretical and the practical; focused university outreach to 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.

“These leaders each have an academic vision focused on a commitment to excellence,” Gregorian said. “They are first-rate educators and innovators who champion their students’ intellectual development and their schools’ opportunity and obligation to contribute to the growth of their local communities.”

Gregorian added that in these perilous economic times, each has used their distinctive leadership skills to transform crisis to opportunity.

Gutmann became the eighth president of the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, and during her first five years of leadership she launched several major initiatives including the Penn Compact, which has enhanced Penn’s global leadership impact through increasing access to a first-class education among high-achieving students of limited means; integrating knowledge across academic disciplines; and engaging Penn both locally and internationally.

Under Gutmann’s leadership, the Penn Integrates Knowledge Initiative has attracted the world’s finest teacher-scholars who hold joint appointments across Penn’s schools and who demonstrate exceptional achievement across disciplines. In addition, major University-wide initiatives have transformed West Philadelphia, where Penn is located, and made a significant difference in the nation and world.

Penn has had a dramatic effect on K-12 public education through school partnerships that create and foster high-achieving public schools, including collaborations between local elementary schools and Penn’s Graduate School of Education.

Gutmann, a political scientist and philosopher, has expanded Penn’s extensive service-learning and community-partnership initiatives: academically based community service courses have grown by 30 percent since 2004; and, at the 2008 ServiceNation Summit, Gutmann pledged that Penn will fund an additional 400 community service opportunities.

Additionally, Gutmann spearheaded the purchase of the 24 acres of land along the Schuylkill River, with the vision of transforming the site into lush athletic fields and green space. And she led Penn to become the first Ivy League university to sign the Presidential Climate Commitment, recently unveiling an ambitious Climate Action Plan to make Penn the greenest campus in the nation.

Globally, Penn has established an ongoing partnership with Botswana to mitigate the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS., and has initiated academic partnerships in China and India.

The Academic Leadership Award, established in 2005, is an investment in leadership by Carnegie Corporation of New York that builds on the foundation's long tradition of developing and recognizing leadership in higher education.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.”

Originally published on September 21, 2009