Global Colloquium
of University Presidents

Global Colloquium of University Presidents

The University of Pennsylvania welcomed the fifth meeting of the Global Colloquium of University Presidents on Monday, April 4 and Tuesday, April 5, 2011. The Colloquium is an invitation-only meeting of some 25-30 university presidents from around the world. Each president is accompanied by a faculty expert on the chosen topic. The Colloquium meets annually to discuss a topic of immediate concern to leaders in higher education at universities around the world and of particular and timely interest to the Secretary-General and the international community.

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann is a founding member of the Global Colloquium of University Presidents, which is sponsored by five leading American research universities – Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University – on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.


The topic of the 2011 Colloquium was "Empowering Women to Change the World: What Universities and the UN Can Do."

Speaking on the occasion of International Women's Day 2010 and the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that "gender equality and women's empowerment are fundamental to the global mission of the United Nations to achieve equal rights and dignity for all…. But equality for women and girls is also an economic and social imperative. Until women and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, all our goals – peace, security, sustainable development – stand in jeopardy."

Public Keynote Address

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered the opening keynote address at a 5:00 p.m. public session on Monday, April 4th in Irvine Auditorium.

View detailed information.

Colloquium Agenda

The Colloquium sessions on Tuesday, April 5th were open only to the Colloquium participants and included keynote presentations by the newly appointed head of UN Women, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who were with us throughout the Colloquium, and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

The university presidents discussed the role of universities in providing access to education, training, and leadership networks to empower women for full participation and leadership in their societies and recommend concrete steps that universities around the world should take to further this goal. Simultaneously, the faculty experts from each participating university will discuss what the United Nations can do to advance the empowerment of women in the spirit of the Secretary-General's passionate commitment.

The Colloquium produced a final report that includes the background paper, memoranda prepared by each president and faculty expert in response to the background paper, and six broad recommendations and specific proposed outcomes, agreed upon by the Colloquium participants.

Background Materials

Deborah A. Driscoll, MD, Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Afaf I Meleis, PhD, DrPS(hon), FAAN, Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing and Professor of Nursing and Sociology at Penn served as President Gutmann's "academic partners" in planning and leading the Colloquium. They prepared a Background Paper on "Empowering Women to Change the World: What Universities and the UN Can Do," which was intended to provide a framework and starting point for the conversations among the Colloquium participants.

Additional background materials, available here, include the United Nations' "Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health," and the "Vision and 100-Day Action Plan" for UN Women, the new agency created by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to unite four of the world body's agencies and offices: the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW).


The Global Colloquium of University Presidents is convened by the presidents of the five sponsoring institutions -- Lee Bollinger (Columbia), Amy Gutmann (Penn), Richard Levin (Yale), John Sexton (NYU), and Shirley Tilghman (Princeton) -- on behalf of and with the participation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Previous Colloquia

The Colloquium is a response to the Secretary-General's request for greater involvement of the global academic community in exploring international public policy concerns. Previous Colloquia have addressed such important topics as academic freedom, international migration, innovative sources of funding global goods, the social benefits of the research university in the 21st century, sustainability and global climate change, and the role of science in meeting global challenges.

  • 2004-2005 Columbia University
    Academic Freedom
    International Migration
  • 2005-2006 Princeton University
    The Social Benefits of the Research University in the 21st Century
    Innovative Sources of Funding Global Public Goods
  • 2007-2008 New York University
    The Role of Universities in Relation to Climate Change
    Setting the Post-Kyoto Agenda for Climate Policy
  • 2009-2010 Yale University
    The Roles of Science in Meeting Global Challenges: Broadening the Base and Organizing the Summit

Global Colloquium

University of Pennsylvania President, Amy Gutmann

Global Colloquium

Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon

Global Colloquium

Under Secretary-General and Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet

Global Colloquium

Senior Advisor to President Obama and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, Valerie Jarrett