Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences
Rebecca W. Bushnell
Dean of the College
Director of Academic Affairs
D. Kent Peterman
Associate Director of Academic Affairs
Dean of Freshmen and Director of Academic Advising
Associate Directors of Academic Advising
Diane D. Frey
Assistant Deans for Advising
Other to be named
Director of Administrative Affairs
Associate Director for Admissions and External Affairs
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College is the largest of Penn’s four undergraduate schools, enrolling 6,000 of the University’s 9,000 undergraduates, and providing classes for all of Penn’s undergraduates. The study of the arts and sciences provides students with critical perspectives on their world and with the fundamental intellectual skills necessary for engaging it. As Benjamin Franklin recognized, professional education relies on the sustenance provided by the arts and sciences and could not exist without them. The School of Arts and Sciences remains the heart and soul of the modern University of Pennsylvania.
The story of the College’s origins is the story of the University. In 1749, Benjamin Franklin and 21 leading citizens of Philadelphia founded what would come to be known as the “College, Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.” The first commencement took place on May 17, 1757, and graduated a class of seven.
Alumni of the College of Philadelphia were instrumental in the development of the nation and played vital roles in the American Revolution. Twenty-one members of the Continental Congress were graduates of the College, nine signers of the Declaration of Independence were either trustees or alumni, and 11 signers of the Constitution were associated with the College. In 1791, the merger of the College with the originally independent “University of the State of Pennsylvania” created the institution that would become the University of Pennsylvania, the first university in the United States. The University moved in 1872 from 9th Street to a 10-acre plot of land, purchased for $80,000, that was located across the Schuylkill River. The land was in a semi-rural area known as Blockley Township.
During Benjamin Franklin’s 40 years on the board of trustees, his idea of combining practical and traditional education guided the curriculum of the University. Thanks to Franklin, Penn went beyond the traditional classical education and diversified into the sciences, mathematics, history, logic and philosophy. Franklin indicated his philosophy of education when, in establishing the University, he said, “As to their Studies, it would be well if they could be taught every Thing that is useful, …Regard being held to the several Professions for which they are intended.” The emphasis Franklin placed on the practical aspects of education distinguished the University of Pennsylvania from other colleges and universities of the era. This tradition of practical education has continued throughout the history of the University. For example, the first medical school (1765), business school (1881) and law classes (1850) in America were founded at Penn.
In 1878, the Towne Scientific School and the Music Department admitted nine women for the first time into their programs. In 1879, the first black students were admitted, one to the College, one to the Dental School and one to the Medical School. The College of Liberal Arts for Women was established in 1933 as a means to provide women with a liberal arts education; it merged with the College of Arts and Sciences in 1974, thus forming our modern-day School of Arts and Sciences, which includes the Graduate School, the College of General Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences.