"What better to way to figure out what you want to get out of a school than by taking a class with the person who runs it?" asked College freshman Anthony DiBella, explaining why he participated in the proseminar taught by University President Amy Gutmann.
"The Penn Compact and What It's all About" was held yesterday at Gutmann's house at 3812 Walnut St. The proseminar was one of a variety of one-time courses with Penn faculty offered during New Student Orientation. It allowed 37 freshmen the chance to get a macrocosmic view of the University as a whole from the woman who leads it.
The session started with an overview of Gutmann's original vision for the Penn Compact and how it has evolved. She explained that her first ideas for the Compact were informed by Penn's unique characteristics, as well as the challenges Penn faces as an institution.
Her thought process eventually led to what she called the University's "social contract" - which she said generates pride in Penn's identity, not only as a group of individuals, but also as a community.
Gutmann highlighted her desire to "allow students to have the opportunity to fulfill dreams" that they didn't realize they had. "Access" was the keyword that came out of this, specifically in terms of giving a diverse and talented student group financial access to Penn.
The integration of knowledge, local engagement and global engagement also came up, as primary goals of the Compact.
In the next stage of the afternoon, the participants split up into groups of four. Each group was assigned one of the four objectives of the Compact and was given about 25 minutes to address the value of this goal, as well as what students can do to further it. Following these discussions, the groups reconvened and presented their answers.
Students emphasized the importance of taking full advantage of the Penn education, from learning from multicultural peers to getting an education - rather than just a degree - and engaging with the local West Philadelphia community.
College freshman Ariela Cohen said she particularly appreciated the focus on community that came through during the two-hour proseminar.
"I respect this focus since it allows intercultural knowledge to overlap and makes Penn a vibrant place," she said.
Gutmann said she was impressed by the students' dynamism and diversity, and by the way they modeled the Penn Compact.
"They really engaged and had interesting ideas about the Compact," she said. "They did their class proud."Comments powered by Disqus
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