A new computer service called "Google Sky" now enables us to view the universe in its entirety by integrating existing internet resources into a single user-friendly tool.
We at Penn also are harnessing our resources and distinctive interdisciplinary power to deliver maximum benefit to our students, our University and the world.
Last month I traveled to Botswana, a country that is battling the second highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in the world and the fourth highest incidence of tuberculosis.
While blessed with a stable economy and a progressive government, Botswana nonetheless is suffering the ripple effects of this crisis, which has produced thousands of AIDS orphans and overwhelmed the country's health care, economic, educational and social-service systems.
Six years ago, Harvey Friedman, Stephen Gluckman and their Penn Medicine colleagues responded to an urgent call for help from the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership, Botswana's government, and the Merck and Gates foundations.
The Botswana-Penn Partnership now includes hospital-based clinical care and provider education programs; global medicine training for more than 100 Penn medical students; multidisciplinary research; and a thriving collaboration with the University of Botswana.
Last year, we deployed more than 75 faculty, students and staff from across Penn to help tackle Botswana's challenges. We began student exchanges with the University of Botswana, launched the template for an annual community health course for Penn Nursing students, and inaugurated a summer internship program that brings students face to face with the complex societal consequences of HIV/AIDS.
During my visit I witnessed the transformative impact that Penn's integrated effort is having on Botswana and on Penn. We have Penn Medicine physicians and students working with hospital caregivers to improve patient outcomes and to prevent HIV-related chronic illnesses from becoming life-threatening.
Wharton is developing new computerized systems to address physician and nursing shortages. Penn Nursing and the Annenberg School for Communication are developing an HIV-prevention program for adolescents. And recently, we have begun helping the University of Botswana develop plans for a medical school that will enable the country to train its own physicians.
Penn and our partners in the government and the University of Botswana are clearly making progress toward boosting the country's capacity to stem the devastating tide of HIV/AIDS.
Botswana is having an equally powerful impact on the people of Penn. To make a positive difference, we must not only deploy our knowledge but also call on our collective talents and wits.
For example, summer intern and College senior Mara Gordon overcame the language barrier in a village orphanage to create a crafts program that provides poor mothers with sustainable income and a Web site that accepts international donations.
Bioethics grad student Donna Taraborelli linked her poorly funded anti-corruption NGO with a University of Botswana researcher who may be able to secure new resources.
Second-year Vet student Janna Kerins spent nine hours helping to free a rhino stuck in the mud of a disappearing water source.
Now, the Botswana-Penn Partnership furnishes a paradigm for a global future in which integrated, cross-cultural learning partnerships leverage the vast expertise and experience of Penn's many schools to develop innovative approaches to complex global problems.
College senior Rob Strain, who helped Botswana's government reach out to local NGOs, describes the partnership as "a great microcosm of how a university should run."
I describe it as a great idea and a big win for Penn, for Botswana, and for the world.
Great ideas for our campus will begin taking shape over the course of this year. The new Annenberg Public Policy Center is rising on Locust Walk. We will begin creating green fields near the Schuylkill River, while moving ahead with plans to create a new fitness center beneath the Franklin Field arcade.
Thanks to our outstanding Move-In and NSO teams, we have lift-off into a new year of learning. The atmosphere has never been better for Penn faculty, students, and staff to explore the world in exciting new ways, and to bring great ideas to fruition.
Now, the universe is the limit!
Amy Gutmann is president of the University of Pennsylvania.Comments powered by Disqus
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