In his first report to a Stated Meeting of the Trustees since taking office as Provost in January, Dr. Robert Barchi sketched briefly four overarching goals for his office. The following was compiled from his outline and from notes.--Ed.

Four Goals Going into the Millennium

From the Provosot's Report to the Trustees, February 19, 1999

Good afternoon. It is a pleasure and a privilege to join you here this afternoon for my first stated meeting as Penn's newest Provost.

I am energized and excited by the challenges facing us as a University and I look forward to developing a strong alliance with you in the years ahead

This early in my term I would not presume to articulate goals as rich and all encompassing as those developed by President Rodin and others in the Agenda for Excellence.

But I do want to briefly summarize for you four overarching goals I have established for the Provost's office as we enter this exciting era in Penn's history. I have developed these with President Rodin's Agenda for Excellence as my guide. They are intended to complement the fine work that is already underway and in some instances, to work with the President, the Deans, the Executive Vice President and others to take that work to its next highest level.

This is by no means a static list and I anticipate many additional components will be added to it as we move forward together into the new millennium.

I am particularly looking forward to developing a close collaboration with President Rodin as we both work with our 12 Deans to refine, expand and augment Penn's academic priorities in these next years. The four major goals are:

  1. To enrich the intellectual climate of the University
  2. To encourage innovation in teaching and research
  3. To implement and advance Agenda for Excellence priorities, and
  4. To strengthen the academic infrastructure of the University

Let me tell you a bit more about each of these goals:

1. To enrich the intellectual climate of the University:

  • The College Houses now form a cohesive system that will allow us to knit together undergraduate education, giving us the infrastructure for additional programs that cut across the University.
  • Expanding our Hubs, such as the Writers House and Civic House, will give us more opportunities to sponsor events, from social events to performances, that bring faculty and students together.
  • Improved learning spaces, and improved recreational, performing arts, and social space also present new opportunities.
  • Finally, the Office of the Provost will regularly host intellectually enriching events, including concerts, lectures, and performing arts activities.

2. To encourage innovation in teaching and research:

  • Working closely with the Deans and the schools, we should further expand on our highly successful interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs, strengthen linkages and remove barriers between schools.
  • Again working closely with the Deans and the schools, we will explore and expand upon distributed learning opportunities.
  • I expect to provide seed support to promote innovative teaching initiatives, and foster student-based experiments in education in order to maintain Penn's exceptional standards for teaching.

3. To implement and advance the priorities of the Agenda for Excellence:

  • We must, with the President and the Deans, carry forward the Six Academic Priorities (Almanac September 24, 1996), and begin to develop the next chapter in this plan.
  • We must also provide the Deans with the empowerment and the resources necessary to carry out their own strategic plans within the context of the overall Agenda.

4. To strengthen the academic infrastructure of the University:

Let me begin by reaffirming the Office of Provost in its stated role as the principal academic officer of the University, working in close partnership with the President and the Deans. I will also:

  • Carefully evaluate and improve the Provost's office structure to best serve the needs of our community of scholars;
  • Use the resources of the Provost's office to attract and retain an excellent and diverse faculty;
  • Work closely with the schools and the faculty on developing appropriate solutions to the changing nature of academic work and faculty composition;
  • Work with the President, the Executive Vice President, and the Deans to help shape an improved strategic and space planning process that is responsive to our academic missions and needs; and
  • Work closely with the EVP to improve and coordinate research operations to better serve the needs of faculty and students.

[The Provost then listed signal honors to faculty, citing Dr. Aravind Joshi's election to the National Academy of Engineering and naming the five Sloan Fellows and seven recipients of National Science Foundation Early Career Development Awards; see Almanac February 23. He ended with the traditional action of Provosts at stated meetings of the Trustees: "I am now pleased to present for your approval the Resolution on Faculty Appointments, Leaves, and Promotions."]

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 23, March 2, 1999