A Message to the Penn Community from President Amy Gutmann

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 274th year of the University of Pennsylvania and to share with you a brief update. This was a productive summer at Penn, with a major ongoing restoration and renovation of the ARCH building, finishing touches to our new Singh Center for Nanotechnology, and visits with Penn alumni, parents, and friends in Hong Kong and Washington, D.C. on our Time to Shine world thank-you tour.

For me, there are few things more invigorating than the start of a new academic year, with the return of colleagues and students and with the entire Penn campus overflowing with energy and inquiry. There is no better homage to the creative work and the passion for making a positive difference in society that has distinguished our University for more than two and a half centuries.

This same creative passion has brought us to a pivotal moment for Penn. For nearly a decade, the Penn Compact has propelled our University from excellence to eminence by advancing our core endeavors of teaching, research, and service. Building on that momentum, our Making History campaign met with spectacular success. Launched just a year before the world's economy plummeted, by its end in January 2013 the campaign succeeded both in advancing our highest priorities beyond everyone's highest expectation, and also in engaging alumni, friends—indeed, the entire Penn community—on an unprecedented level. Now, Penn is strongly positioned to achieve even more.

The question naturally arises: Where do we go from here?

Our answer will determine how we harness our collective drive to shape the future. We find ourselves at this pivotal moment, not only for Penn and for higher education, but also for our society and the world. How we answer this question will influence how we address some profound global challenges such as climate change and energy production, equitable and affordable health care, more productive democratic politics, food and security, and the future of both learning and scientific enterprise. Our answer to this question bears strongly on Penn’s role in humanistic creativity, technological innovation, and the dissemination of knowledge.

Having succeeded beyond expectation in our historic campaign, with a faculty, student body, and staff that are second to none, now is the right time to renew the strategic vision that has guided Penn to eminence. The renewed vision that we are prepared to pursue is both elegantly practical and simple, yet also bold in its power to lead our University through the next decade and beyond as one of the world’s preeminent academic institutions. It is a dynamic vision, welcoming of your ongoing input.

This vision is Penn Compact 2020.

Penn Compact 2020 renews Penn’s fundamental priorities with continued focus on increasing access to our University’s exceptional intellectual resources; integrating knowledge across academic disciplines with emphasis on innovative understanding and discovery; and engaging locally, nationally, and globally to bring the benefits of Penn’s research, teaching, and service to individuals and communities at home and around the world. This vision will guide us in strengthening three core values that make us uniquely Penn: inclusion, innovation, and impact.

Our commitment to inclusion means we will continue to meet the full financial need of undergraduates with all-grant aid packages. We also are dedicated to expanding the Penn World Scholars program and to further strengthening graduate and professional student financial aid. We will increase diversity at all levels with high-priority efforts that include the Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence. And we will continue advancing Open Learning at Penn with high-quality online education initiatives that promote the very best teaching and educational research on Penn’s campus.

We will continue to innovate by bringing the greatest minds together across academic fields. To do this, we will increase Penn Integrates Knowledge and other endowed professorships across our schools to recruit and retain the most eminent interdisciplinary faculty. We will build highly collaborative, inter-school research and teaching programs. And we will expand Penn’s culture and practice of innovation through a new Pennovation Center, where Penn discoveries will find rapid application to pressing social needs.

Penn’s impact is powered by our engagement; it will change the ways we live and think at home, across the nation, and around the world. We will implement our dynamic Penn Connects 2.0 campus master plan to create the most innovative, sustainable, and beautiful urban campus with vibrant living and learning spaces for the community. By Fall 2016, we will open a spectacular new College House on Hill Field, making this prime campus space simultaneously more useful, beautiful, and welcoming to Penn, while also providing the opportunity to thoroughly renovate its neighbor, Hill College House. We will enable Penn faculty and students to advance knowledge-based public policy through focused inter-school programs including a new Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative. We will bring the world to Penn and Penn to the world through broad-ranging university-wide programs including the Perry World House, a new international hub centrally located on Locust Walk and 38th Street, expanded student internships, and a Penn Wharton China Center that partners with our new Center for the Study of Contemporary China.

Success in realizing our bold and far-reaching vision of Penn Compact 2020 will depend most of all on the creative work of immensely talented Penn people. As president, I am truly honored to work with the most eminent faculty, talented students, and exceptional staff in higher education. You are vital not only to Penn’s present but also to our future. As together we move forward with Penn Compact 2020, we will continue to accomplish great things. Thank you so very much for all that you do, and welcome to what promises to be another exciting new year for Penn.