Penn has changed since President Amy Gutmann’s tenure began a decade ago.
“I propose a compact, a Penn Compact, that expresses our boldest aspirations for higher education — a compact based on our shared understanding that ‘Divided we fail. United we flourish.’ By honoring this Penn Compact, we will make the greatest possible difference in our University, our city, our country and our world,” Gutmann said 10 years ago to a packed Irvine Auditorium in her inaugural address.
On Oct. 15, 2004, Gutmann proclaimed three primary missions: increasing access, integrating knowledge and engaging locally and globally. She expressed a commitment to accessible education, proclaiming that “In a democracy and at great universities, diversity and excellence go together.” A first-generation college student herself, Gutmann attended Radcliffe College on a scholarship and has since sought to pay it forward by increasing educational access to students regardless of their race or socioeconomic standing.
In the decade since, these ideals have come to permeate from the campus to the student populace, dominating the University’s mission and driving forward the Penn Compact 2020 and the record-breaking Making History fundraising campaign through which the University soared past its $3.5 billion goal to raise $4.3 billion in funding.
Since 2004, Penn’s financial aid expenditures more than doubled from $78.9 million to a budgeted $197 million for fiscal year 2015. In 2007, Penn launched its all-grant, no-loan policy , allowing students to take on a Penn education without trepidation of future financial burden.
While preparing to take office, Gutmann conducted a “listening tour” over six months, during which she spoke to everyone from students and faculty to alumni and trustees to parents and public officials about how Penn could make the greatest difference.
“It was on that listening tour that I congealed, if you will, the Penn Compact,” Gutmann said. “I wanted to create something that wasn’t mine, but the community’s.”
Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, who oversees business operations for the University, remembers sitting in Irvine Auditorium during Gutmann's inauguration. “I found it amazing that in 2004 she was talking about issues that would come to the fore several years later," he said.
As of her 10th year, she has made progress toward each of the goals she outlined in her first day on the job.
“For all of our progress, we, like our peers, still remain too divided into disciplinary enclaves. We must better integrate knowledge in order to comprehend our world,” Gutmann said at her inauguration. Under her leadership, Penn has launched countless initiatives and programs to integrate knowledge between disciplines and schools.
Fifteen Penn Integrates Knowledge professors connect subject areas in innovative ways, while projects like the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, the Perry World House and the Neural Behavioral Science Building foster environments for combining ideas and over 130 endowed professorships facilitate further pursuit of knowledge.
Penn has also connected with West Philadelphia and the world beyond, from the Penn Alexander School and other local schools to the far East in the Penn Wharton China Center. The newly announced President’s Engagement Prizes further encourage students to seek their own means of engagement, and the construction of Penn Park fueled eastward expansion into the city of Philadelphia.
“The West Philadelphia landscape has literally been transformed by the open space created by Penn Park, Shoemaker Green and Kane Park,” Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate Services Anne Papageorge said. “These urban green spaces serve as gateways to our campus that mark your arrival at Penn.”
And 10 years ago, Gutmann said she recognized the challenges of leading Penn. “It won’t be easy. There will be challenges. But we will meet them and we will succeed,” she said. “By putting our principles into ever better practice, our Penn family will rise from excellence to eminence in teaching and research as we become ever more accessible.”
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