Through the Penn Fellows program, professors become students and learn more about University operations over meals with administrators.
Since the program's launch in 2009, a cohort of associate-level professors has been chosen annually to spend two years learning more about the inside operations of Penn's administration. This year’s cohort includes 17 mid-career professors from a variety of departments.
Once a month, the fellows sit down for lunch or dinner with several administrators, such as the provost, vice provost, Dean of Nursing, and Dean of Admissions. The professors also have the opportunity to eat lunch with Penn President Amy Gutmann.
The fellows are nominated by associate deans and department chairs, 2018 Penn Fellow and Art History professor André Dombrowski said.
Sandra Ryeom, a 2018 Faculty Fellow and Biology professor, added that nominated faculty typically show "leadership and initiative" and a certain level of civic engagement beyond their specific research field.
For the first time this year, the cohort also participated in the Provost Leadership Academy. The day-and-a-half long program, which was held on Sept. 14 and 15, focuses on topics such as diversity, finances, and leadership in an academic setting. It also featured presentations by three Wharton professors who work in corporate settings.
Fellows said the program gives them a chance to learn more from the diverse perspectives of their colleagues.
“The ability to engage with faculty who are also interested in a broader community for different schools is amazing,” Ryeom said. "The chance to meet Design School faculty, Law School faculty, and Dental School faculty is really tremendous. It offers such different perspective.”
2018 Fellow and Political Science professor Tulia Falleti said the highlight of the program for her was the conversation she had with Dean of Admissions Eric Furda. Falleti said the dean gave her insight into the undergraduate admissions process and statistics on legacy and first-generation students.
“[Colleagues at other Ivy League institutions] do not have this opportunity: this notion that the next generation of leadership is going to be groomed in a formal manner through program,” Ryeom said. “It really speaks to how forward-thinking Penn is.”
Many Penn Fellows hope to become administrators themselves.
“It really gives me access to a level of university-level operations,” Dombrowski said, adding that he hopes to become an administrator someday. “My eyes are open to administrative structure at the University that I would not see otherwise.”
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.