Nomination Press Conference Remarks

January 22, 2004 - Press conference comments

Well, thank you so much. I do have to change my attire when I go back to Princeton this evening. I could not be more honored than to accept the nomination as the eighth president of the University of Pennsylvania, and I understand, that unlike some other presidential nominations, I’m all but assured of winning the final election without a recount. (laughter)

In addition to being honored, I am exhilarated by the prospect of becoming Penn’s President and I’m enormously thankful to the Chairman of Penn’s Board of trustees, Jim Riepe, and to the Search Committee who recommended me to the board. How could anyone not want to be President of a university that has undergraduate student leaders as great as Jason Levy and Ophelia Roman and graduate student leaders like Robert Alvarez and Dierdra Reber and such a superb faculty and such excellent administrators and staff? I also want to thank the two past-Presidents of Penn whom I know and admire—Sheldon Hackney and Judith Rodin, for all they have done to make Penn so excellent and exciting an institution. And I can say with certainty with absolute certainty that were it not for the groundwork laid over the past decade by Judy Rodin, I would not be here today.

Penn today is a powerful force in the Ivy League of higher education. And higher education is a powerful force for the betterment of American democracy and the world. Democracy cannot thrive without not just educated, but highly educated men and women. The place called Penn also has a great spirit that attracts me. A spirit that I associate with its founder, Benjamin Franklin and all that is wonderful about American democracy. Penn’s excellence is electric. It is pragmatic and principled, it is urban and international, it is multicultural and multidisciplinary, it’s demanding and diverse, it’s collaborative and collegial, and it’s energetic and entrepreneurial. I am looking forward, come July, to beginning a new chapter of my education in this electric and excellent place called Penn in the great city of Philadelphia. I will move from Princeton, my home of 28 years, to my new home, in Philly, for which I already have enormous admiration and attachment. I look forward to working in this dynamic city with Mayor Street, with Councilman Jannie Blackwell and other city officials, to continue the progress made on strategic plans for the post office and the Civic Center site. And I look forward, as well, to working with Governor Rendell and state officials in this great state of Pennsylvania.

Penn’s excellence across an extraordinarily broad spectrum of teaching and research is paramount to what attracts me here, and what it can offer the city, the state, the nation and the world. A Penn education brings arts and sciences and engineering, medicine and business, law and education, communication and fine arts, nursing and dental medicine, social work and veterinary medicine, all together in one beautiful campus, in one great city. My education is now five decades in the making, and it’s clearly just about to begin. I’m greatly looking forward to living on this beautiful campus, which my husband and I will, come July, call home.

Someone, maybe more than someone, will no doubt want to know what my own particular priorities are for Penn in the years ahead. In addition to my intent to partner with the city and to build on Penn’s broad excellence in teaching, research and public service across its 12 schools, furthering Franklin’s polymathic tradition of putting knowledge of the highest order to the service of society and the world. And I’m happy to tell you all of my particular priorities--about a year from now, after I actually have been Penn’s President for some time and had the opportunity to educate myself at and by Penn.

Any avid teacher, which I pride myself on being, must first and foremost be an avid learner. At my stage of life, I can think of no better way to continue my education than at Penn, and no more demanding and exciting way than to do this at Penn, then as its president. I am thrilled to be moving to Philadelphia--the cradle of liberty, learning and civic service. Thank you all so very much for giving me this welcome and wonderful opportunity. I only wish, I have to say in conclusion, that my mother and father could be here to know that this has happened, this wonderful opportunity in my life. Thank you so very much.