Penn President Amy Gutmann is putting Penn on the map — in Washington, D.C.
Gutmann is chairwoman of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues — which began a day-and-a-half-long meeting Monday at the Capital — and was named to the American Academy of Arts’ Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences earlier this month.
Gutmann said she aims to help the University engage in national debates.
“By chairing the President’s Commission, I’m helping showcase Penn’s strength in the area of bioethics,” she said. “It’s not only something that I have an expertise on, it’s something that Penn has an expertise on.”
Penn’s faculty members, hailing from different disciplines to contribute to the Commission on Bioethics, are a “primary example of the way Penn’s expertise can be, and should be, put into national service,” she said.
In July 2006, Penn increased its presence in Washington by relocating its Office of Federal Affairs to D.C. Bill Andresen, who leads the Washington office, said the move has made Penn “much more visible” in the policy-making community. Gutmann and the Washington office work to “take a lead role to ensure continued funding” for student aid and research grants with the help of Pennsylvania’s congressmen and women, Andresen said. He added that working on Washington-related issues “is clearly one of her top priorities” in order to create jobs and promote innovation.
Gutmann has also worked closely with Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and former Sen. Arlen Specter to advocate for funding for higher education.
“My office has a wonderful working relationship with President Gutmann,” Casey wrote in an e-mail. “I have appreciated her support on issues like increasing and expanding Pell Grants, as well as her leadership at the head of the largest [non-governmental] employer in Philadelphia.”
In Washington, Gutmann is known as one of the most active University presidents, according to Barry Toiv, vice president for Public Affairs at the Association of American Universities.
“When a university president gets involved, it’s a signal of how important those issues are to the university,” Toiv said. “I hope she keeps it up.”
Although Gutmann is often busy meeting with reporters and politicians from Pennsylvania, she always finds time for Penn.
“Whenever I meet anywhere for anything, I try to — and I usually do — combine it with some good Penn events for our alumni,” Gutmann said.
Despite her high profile, she also travels to and from Washington on the train, like any businesswoman.
“I just hopped on the Acela,” Gutmann said of her last visit to D.C. that was paid for by the White House. She was back to Philadelphia later that night in time for a football banquet.
At this week’s meeting, Gutmann will join Psychology professor Martha Farah and School of Law and School of Medicine professor Stephen Morse, who are making presentations. The topics of the meeting include the ethics of neuroimaging and genetic testing, as well as the review of human subjects protection.
Though work with Washington business varies from week to week, “I’m on 24-7 as Penn’s president,” Gutmann said. “Penn always comes first.”Comments powered by Disqus
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