A Strategic Plan for the School of Arts and Sciences

To the University Community

The following draft of a plan for the School of Arts and Sciences is presented in order to elicit comments and suggestions from members of the Arts and Sciences community. It sets forth an ambitious series of goals for the School. These goals can best be achieved through the enthusiastic support of the Arts and Sciences community and its external constituencies. Feedback from faculty and students is an important element in crafting the best possible plan.

The plan reflects an effort of a new administration in SAS to identify those initiatives that are most likely to accelerate the School's progress towards a position of preeminence in American education. It has benefitted from the sustained attention of the School's Planning and Priorities Committee (a faculty group) as well as from valuable suggestions by department chairs.

Members of the Arts and Sciences community may share their comments on the draft by writing to the Office of the Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, 116 College Hall/6377 or by sending an e-mail to

by Friday, April 30. SAS faculty and students are also invited to sign up for one of several discussion groups that will be scheduled during the month of April; please send an e-mail to the address above or call 898-7320 to indicate your interest in attending one of these sessions and we will inform you of the date and time of the meeting.

Samuel H. Preston
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

A Strategic Plan for the School of Arts and Sciences


The University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences holds a special place in the history of American liberal education. Through the vision of Benjamin Franklin, the College of Philadelphia established the first modern arts and sciences curriculum-an innovative course of study that encompassed not only classical subjects but also scientific inquiry and the study of contemporary political and economic institutions. It at once taught students timeless critical skills--the ability to reason, to interpret, to create, to reflect, to question, to communicate clearly in speech and in writing--and to apply those skills in the world around them. The curriculum was revolutionary in its integration of the theoretical and the practical.

Today the School of Arts and Sciences continues to be guided by Franklin's philosophy in pursuing its three integrated missions: conducting research that advances the frontiers of knowledge, providing an unrivaled undergraduate education in the arts and sciences, and training the world's future leaders in teaching and research. These missions are linked on many levels. Undergraduate and graduate students are attracted to the School by the reputation of its faculty, a reputation that is established primarily through scholarship. Undergraduates acquire knowledge from the very scholars who are creating that knowledge, while the opportunity to teach outstanding students is an important factor in faculty recruitment. Excellent doctoral programs support and complement faculty research and enhance undergraduate learning by providing talented graduate students to assist in classrooms and laboratories.

SAS has established itself firmly among the finest schools of arts and sciences in the world in all three of its missions. Ten of its departments placed in the top ten in academic reputation in the latest National Research Council rankings; eight of its graduate programs were ranked in the top ten in effectiveness. The College of Arts and Sciences, by all available indicators--its national ranking among undergraduate programs at research universities, the steadily increasing quality of its student body, and the expressions of satisfaction from students and alumni--is one of the premier undergraduate programs in the nation. The School's character and competitive position are further shaped by two features of its environment. First, the University of Pennsylvania provides a setting in which interdisciplinary activities flourish. This feature is especially salient in the presence of 11 distinguished professional schools. Possibilities abound for creative intellectual alliances and novel programs of instruction. Second, the School is situated in one of America's great cities, a location that offers a wide array of cultural and intellectual attractions and affords an important laboratory for learning and research.

Building upon this strong foundation, the School will secure a position of preeminence in every endeavor it undertakes. Pursuing such a goal requires making choices. At a time when human knowledge is expanding at a dramatic pace and financial resources are limited, the School can neither offer nor excel in every scholarly discipline. Rather, it must identify, and invest new resources in, targeted academic initiatives that advance the School's educational programs and reputation.

Doing so requires a plan that clearly defines the School's aspirations and charts a course for achieving them. Such a plan must attend not only to allocating resources to the School's priority areas but also to increasing the resources available to achieve these goals. It must also be closely aligned with institutional objectives, as embodied in the University's strategic plan Agenda for Excellence. The plan presented here seeks to provide such guidance for the School of Arts and Sciences as it enters the 21st century.The plan presented here seeks to provide such guidance for the School of Arts and Sciences as it enters the 21st century.


Faculty Excellence

Faculty quality is the single most important factor in achieving success in each of the School's missions. The School must continue its achievements in building a faculty that is internationally recognized for its outstanding contributions to the development and transmission of basic knowledge about the natural and social world.

Faculty Renewal

  • Tenure ratio. We must renew and enrich our faculty. Our present tenure ratio of 81% reduces the flexibility of the School in responding to new academic opportunities and suggests that a process of faculty renewal should emphasize the recruitment of untenured faculty members. We will manage our recruitment policies towards a target of a 72% tenure ratio. At the same time, we must be attentive to opportunities to make appointments that immediately enhance a program's capacities and reputation, appointments that can only be made at the senior level. Increasing the number of endowed chairs in the School is vital to this effort.
  • Diversity. Recognizing that the diversity of its faculty is one of its great strengths, the School will work to increase the representation of minorities and women on the standing faculty. We will accomplish this goal by continuing aggressively to seek top minority and women candidates for all open faculty positions, and to seek promising minority "targets of opportunity" at all times for all programs. Retaining our minority and female professors must also be a high priority; the School will continue to mentor and nurture these faculty at all points along their career path.

Faculty Reward Structure

  • Performance standards. Evaluations of faculty performance for appointment, promotion, and annual salary reviews must hold to the highest standards of excellence. Just as we expect departments to have achieved excellence in all three of the School's missions, so too must we expect an outstanding performance in each dimension from individual faculty members. Faculty evaluation should include consideration of a faculty member's contributions to both disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs. Departments should institute methods for assessing faculty teaching that include evaluations not only by students but also by faculty.
  • Compensation. Mean salaries in the School of Arts and Sciences are below the mean of our peers. We must move vigorously to enhance salary levels among the faculty and do so in a way that advances our academic goals. We must be certain that our most talented faculty members receive a salary that reflects their national standing, regardless of whether they have allowed other universities to compete for their services. It is essential that salary structures recognize rapid increases in achievements and reputation during early-to-mid career stages. Accordingly, standard raises at the time of promotion to Associate and to Full Professor will be increased from 10% to 15%.

Research Funds

  • School-based funds. Acknowledging the critical link between research excellence and faculty distinction, the School will enhance discretionary research funds available to its standing faculty. To facilitate faculty development, the School will provide a $5,000 start-up research fund to every newly-appointed Assistant Professor, an additional $5,000 fund at promotion to Associate Professor, and a third $5,000 fund at promotion to Full Professor. For senior faculty, the School will increase the number of endowed and term chairs, which provide a minimum annual research fund of $5,000. These efforts will increase the percentage of faculty holding School-based research funds from 30% to 60%.
  • Sponsored funds. External funding is vital to research programs in the natural and social sciences. Indirect costs from federal grants and contracts help provide essential research facilities. The School will institute incentives and administrative mechanisms to stimulate growth in externally-funded research by the faculty and to increase indirect cost recoveries on faculty research. Such incentives will aim at returning to departments a portion of growth in indirect cost recovery that exceeds an established baseline. These are designed to raise the growth rate of external funds from 2% per year to 6% per year.


Programmatic Priorities

To further enhance its position among the top ranks of the world's schools of arts and sciences, the School will invest in selected academic initiatives that are best positioned to advance the School's educational programs and reputation. These initiatives target programs that:

  • have the greatest potential to create new knowledge
  • represent fundamental components of an undergraduate liberal arts curriculum
  • make important contributions to valuable interdisciplinary and interschool programs
  • have the greatest potential to achieve undisputed national distinction

The rich connections among its individual programs are a significant strength of the School. Such links are especially visible in the remarkable variety of its interdisciplinary activities. While these new investments will be targeted at selected departments, they will be designed to take advantage of these connections so that their benefits extend throughout the School.

The Humanities

Building on Strength in Core Departments: English and History

The disciplines of English and History lie at the foundation of virtually every liberal arts curriculum. The School is fortunate to have at its core outstanding Departments of English and History that teach large numbers of students with effectiveness and commitment and that are recognized as centers of scholarly excellence. Their broad compass enables them to contribute to an array of critical interdisciplinary programs. Expanding the size of these departments will enable them to extend their educational reach and to enhance their national standing. Accordingly, the School will add faculty to English and History and supply other resources that will move these departments into the ranks of the top five within their disciplines nationally.

  • English. The Department of English is the centerpiece of literary scholarship in the School and contributes to undergraduate education across Penn by teaching students to think and write clearly and creatively. The study of literature anchors a liberal education by teaching students how to interpret the complexities of textual and symbolic cultures, past and present. An investment in the English department will strengthen its disciplinary core and enhance its contribution to programs in comparative literature, visual culture, theater arts, and studies of race, ethnicity, and gender. The School will increase the size of the English faculty, primarily through junior-level appointments, and improve the competitiveness of graduate fellowship packages.
  • History. The study of history challenges students to understand societal change and process and provides a long-term perspective on contemporary affairs. In addition to serving their own undergraduate and graduate students, faculty in the Department of History are an important bridge to a wide range of interdisciplinary programs and research activities across the School. Investment in this department will allow it to build on its strength in American history and to expand in European and non-Western history, fields that are important to the School's area studies programs and to the international component of the undergraduate curriculum. To this end, SAS will authorize several new faculty appointments in History and modestly increase the size of its graduate program. The department will undertake an effort to systematically develop more faculty and curricular links with related departments and programs.

Humanities Forum

The Penn Humanities Forum, established in 1998-99, will foster programmatic synergies across the School's humanities departments, explore connections among the humanities, the social sciences, the natural sciences, and Penn's professional schools, and create links between Penn humanists and the Philadelphia community. Guided by an annual theme, the Forum will facilitate interdisciplinary research and education, host postdoctoral fellows and scholars, and coordinate a broad range of academic and public programs. Additional external resources must be secured for this program if it is to place a lasting stamp of distinction on the humanities at Penn.

The Natural Sciences

Investing in the Life Sciences: Biology and Psychology

The study of living systems is poised for explosive growth. The technical revolution that began with determining the structure of DNA has provided the ability to sequence entire genomes, to study the genetics of complex behavior, and to image the brain while it is thinking. While all natural science departments in the School are participating in this revolution, Biology and Psychology are particularly well placed to exploit it. Their research programs address key problems from cancer to consciousness. These departments have the largest numbers of majors in the natural sciences and have been highly effective in stimulating undergraduate research, both through their departmental programs and through the interdisciplinary major in Biological Basis of Behavior. The School will increase the faculty size of Biology and Psychology with a special emphasis on the following areas:

  • Genomics. The sequencing of the entire genomes of complete organisms, including human beings, is a worldwide endeavor that is decoding the language in which the quantitative genetic research of the future will be written. Building on the major genomic research program in the Department of Biology, SAS will lead an interschool genomics initiative that will enable Penn to best exploit this scientific breakthrough.
  • Biology of Complex Behavior. One of the most exciting areas in the life sciences is understanding the links between the molecular reactions that characterize life processes at the microscopic level and highly complex behavior in higher organisms, up to and including cognitive processes in humans. This subfield is positioned to benefit from the rapid development of new types of instrumentation. New SAS efforts in this area will include the use of improved functional imaging capabilities as part of a University-wide initiative in cognitive neuroscience and the use of genetically modified animals in measurements of higher-order behaviors such as memory.

Science Facilities

Advancing our programs in research and education in the life sciences requires first-rate teaching and laboratory facilities. In the present competitive environment, recruitment and retention of top researchers and students by the Departments of Biology and Psychology are undercut by inadequate research facilities. The School will develop and implement comprehensive plans for constructing new facilities for these programs. Such facilities will be organized to exploit intellectual synergies within and between these departments and between these departments and the School of Medicine.

The Social Sciences

  • Economics. Driven by the combination of powerful theoretical insights and increasingly sophisticated approaches to interpreting data, the field of economics is well positioned for rapid intellectual progress. As a core social science discipline, it teaches students to use formal methods and empirical inquiry to understand economic behavior. The Department of Economics is an important contributor to undergraduate education both through its major and through foundational courses for College and Wharton students. This top-ten department maintains a coherent scholarly focus built on strength in empirical microeconomics, macroeconomics, and fundamental theory. In order to allow the department to increase the research impact of its faculty and to better serve the needs of undergraduates across the University, the School will expand the size of the faculty to recoup recent losses in strength. It will also improve graduate fellowship packages to attract the most talented graduate students.
  • American and Comparative Democratic and Legal Institutions. The School is working energetically to carry forward the University-wide initiative in American and Comparative Democratic and Legal Institutions. The programs of Political Science, a department that has already made progress toward developing strengths in the fields of international relations and comparative politics, are vitally important not only to our initiatives in undergraduate education but also as complements to existing strengths at Penn in history, law, economics, business, and communication. As a means of enhancing Penn's presence in the important field of American politics, we intend to make as many as five distinguished, senior appointments in that field in the Department of Political Science.


The Organization of Learning

Undergraduate Education

The College at Penn will provide the best undergraduate arts and sciences education available at any research university in the nation. We will do so by capitalizing on the distinctive strengths of our faculty, the organizational structures in place across the University, the extraordinary opportunities that Penn offers for interdisciplinary study, and the academic initiatives described elsewhere in this plan. The education that we offer our students must equip them to understand and participate effectively in contemporary society, to engage in lifelong learning, to have productive careers, and to exercise responsibility as citizens. To help students achieve these ends, we must ensure that their Penn experience allows them to develop habits of mind and character that include:

  • The capacity for independent thinking and creative discovery.
  • The capacity for leadership in all domains that contribute to human well-being.
  • The ability to analyze and solve problems individually and collaboratively.
  • The ability to write, speak, and listen effectively.

In pursuit of these goals, we will undertake a series of initiatives designed to enrich the curriculum, develop students' critical skills, promote an active learning environment, and enhance advising services.

Curricular Initiatives

For graduates of the College at Penn to be fully prepared for the challenges of the 21st century, they must acquire a familiarity with the most important elements of the natural, social, and cultural world. Defining the essential knowledge base of an undergraduate education in arts and sciences has always been a complex process, but never more so than at the present time, when new fields of knowledge are rapidly emerging. We must organize our curriculum and requirements in a way that enables our students to make the most of their precious time in the College at Penn. While the School will maintain excellence in traditional areas that it deems essential to students' knowledge base, it will also create new educational options.

Shaping the Course of Study

  • The General Requirement. Our present general education requirement has been in effect for 11 years. In a time of rapid change in the knowledge base, in methods of inquiry, and in the technology of instruction, it is appropriate that we undertake a thorough evaluation and revision of that requirement. Such a revision should provide our students with a coherent and focused introduction to human knowledge across diverse fields of inquiry, while assuring that they have sufficient freedom within the remainder of the curriculum to follow their own particular interests across departments and schools within the University.
  • An Experimental College. We will seek to make the University of Pennsylvania a national model for educational innovation through the creation of an "experimental college" that will serve as an incubator for curricular and pedagogical innovations. These will include possible revisions of the General Requirement, collaborative learning projects, interschool minors, and other innovations that are best fielded on an experimental basis. Pending the approval of the SAS faculty, 200 entering freshmen in the Fall of 2000 will be exempted from the current General Requirement and undertake in its place a Pilot Curriculum, the content of which will be determined by the faculty during the coming year. Successful initiatives from this program will be extended to all students in the College.

Emerging Areas of Knowledge

  • Science Literacy. Our students live in a world in which the rapidly expanding frontiers of science lengthen and enrich their lives. This accelerated pace of change will place a premium on understanding the laws of nature and their impact on human affairs. While continuing to serve the needs of science majors, we will devote new resources to designing courses for all students that convey the body of scientific knowledge and methods of analysis that are considered most fundamental to their full participation in the world of the future.
  • Community Studies. One of the most important sources of knowledge is the shared experience within communities. The College has developed an outstanding set of academically-based community service-learning courses in Philadelphia that are the most extensive and thoughtfully conceived in the nation. We must build upon this strength by formulating new and innovative programs of study that involve new foci and new faculty. One of these programs will be an undergraduate minor in Urban Health that includes a service and research component focused on Philadelphia.
  • Visual Arts and Visual Culture. In our rapidly-changing visual culture, students must understand the social, aesthetic and political dimensions of images. Moving images, in particular, are increasingly important means of artistic expression and instruments for educational and commercial activities. We will expand our present offerings by developing a program in Film Studies and enhancing our resources for teaching media studies. These efforts will be coordinated with the Annenberg School and the Graduate School of Fine Arts.
  • International Perspectives. Graduates of the College at Penn must be prepared to live in an increasingly interconnected world. Our humanities faculty boasts of many strengths in international studies, including outstanding departments and interdisciplinary programs in foreign languages and literatures. We intend to build on these strengths. In addition, the School will address in a more focused fashion the needs of students to understand the social and institutional dimensions of region, nation, and culture. Increased opportunities for doing so will be created in the departments of Anthropology, History and Political Science. These developments will enhance our important undergraduate program in International Relations and our joint undergraduate and graduate programs with the Wharton School.

Initiatives in Developing Critical Skills

Among the timeless goals of liberal education is fostering critical skills. We take pride in our many successes on this front. The Writing Program in the College at Penn is imitated across the nation. All undergraduates in the College must demonstrate competency in a foreign language. During 1998-99, we implemented a quantitative reasoning requirement. We will continue to develop these outstanding programs as well as to provide the following new opportunities for sharpening our students' critical skills:

  • Methods of Disciplined Inquiry. Research universities are the principal places where ideas are tested and systems of thought proposed. Rigorous, logical thinking is the hallmark of this enterprise. Students can best acquire an appreciation for the research and scholarly process by actively participating in it. Designing research questions, developing access to relevant data, testing ideas, and redesigning questions in light of experience are essential skills for students to master. We will provide additional opportunities for students to attain these skills in seminar settings, laboratories, and in research projects that are based upon the tools of a discipline.
  • Oral Communication. It is essential that College students be able to articulate ideas clearly and confidently in speech. We will therefore expand the mission of our "Writing About" and "Writing Across the University" courses to include intensive work in improving oral communication. Those courses will increasingly be aimed at integrating the skills of writing, speaking, and listening.
  • Information Technology. Our students must acquire a clear vision of the rapidly-evolving electronic landscape and competence in using basic techniques to solve problems. We will work with the College House System and the School of Engineering and Applied Science to ensure that College graduates acquire the skills they need to thrive in the information age.

Pedagogical Initiatives

Evidence suggests that students learn best through interactive contact with faculty members in an instructional environment that is hands-on, collaborative, and problem- oriented. The School must organize its educational efforts with the aim of creating such an environment.

  • Freshman Seminar Program. We will expand our freshman seminar program so that every entering freshman in the College is assured of at least one seminar experience, an active engagement with ideas in a small class led by a member of the standing faculty. The instructors will also serve as important sources of academic advice for freshmen, both before and after they arrive on Penn's campus.
  • Independent Research. When students work with faculty mentors, they not only learn about disciplines and their methodologies, but have the unique opportunity to participate in the creation of new knowledge. We will use our Freshman Seminar Program to encourage students to initiate independent research projects at an early stage in their undergraduate careers. We will provide funding for summer research programs so that students can extend and complete major projects begun during the academic year. We will work with departments to ensure that all majors have an opportunity to conduct research under faculty supervision.
  • Instructional Technology. We must capitalize on new technologies both in and out of the classroom to make teaching more efficient and to make learning more active and interactive. A coherent distributed learning and instructional technology effort is dependent on the widespread involvement of faculty. To facilitate greater use of this technology, we must develop a new suite of course-support software that is widely available, easy to use, and appropriate to all subject areas. We will also establish an "Innovative Learning Space," a flexible classroom that allows faculty to experiment with new technology-assisted pedagogy. Finally, we will encourage the creation of innovative distributed learning courses by providing development funds that will be awarded on the basis of competitive application.
  • Center for Teaching and Learning. The School will establish a Center for Teaching and Learning whose staff will be available to assist faculty members in achieving outstanding classroom performance.

Initiatives in Advising

In the College alone, we offer undergraduates choices among 2,000 courses, 48 major fields of study, an array of independent research opportunities, and an equally rich menu of extra-curricular intellectual options. We must, in and out of the classroom, inspire and instruct our students in ways that ensure that they will make the most of that wealth of intellectual opportunity. Our advising activities must recognize students' need for guidance not only during their course-taking time on campus, but also before their arrival and as they prepare to depart.

  • Pre-freshman advising. We will expand our highly successful pre-freshman advising pilot project. We intend to engage all of our students in active conversations, via the internet, with faculty and academic advisors about their goals and expectations for study at Penn immediately upon receiving notification of their decision to matriculate at Penn.
  • On-campus advising. We will achieve a full integration of our on-campus advising services in which freshman faculty advisors, College Office advisors, College House advisors, and faculty major advisors are part of well-coordinated teams with the common purpose of encouraging students to define and assess their progress toward meeting their academic goals.
  • Career planning. We must ensure that our students are guided and inspired to apply their liberal education to a productive and satisfying career path. We intend to work with on-campus recruiters to educate them about the value of the arts and sciences education students receive in the College. We will urge departments to play a more active role in mentoring students as they seek jobs or opportunities for graduate or professional education. Finally, we will launch a non-credit course entitled "Lessons in Leadership," that will bring to campus College alumni who lead extraordinarily successful lives. This program will encourage students to develop leadership skills that will promote achievement in all domains.

Graduate Education

The School will continue its commitment to the most rigorous training of the next generation of scholars and university professors. In order to maintain the highest standards in its graduate programs and secure academic positions for its graduates, the School has in recent years taken steps to reduce the size of its entering class. The practice of enrolling relatively smaller cohorts of truly exceptional students who receive multi-year packages of fellowship assistance will continue to be our guiding strategy in graduate education.

Ph.D. Programs

  • Graduate financial aid: To remain competitive in the recruitment of the top applicants, stipend levels must be increased and other terms of our graduate fellowships improved. The School will undertake a major review of its fellowship allocation system and make corresponding investments in graduate financial assistance.
  • Teacher training: The School must be responsible for training its graduate students to become excellent university professors as well as scholars. Workshops for first-year teaching assistants will be expanded. The School will also sponsor pilot teacher training programs at the graduate group level, creating models for general adoption.

Professional Master's Programs

The School has successfully implemented four professional Master's degree programs. We will continue to develop and nurture Master's programs that reflect the research expertise of our faculty, meet the interests of prospective students, and generate new sources of income for the School. The School will also continue to explore opportunities for developing graduate-level certificate programs.

Outreach to Other Learning Communities

In addition to its core constituencies of full-time undergraduates and graduate students, SAS has a tradition of offering educational opportunities to qualified nontraditional learners through the College of General Studies (CGS). Promising target populations in the coming years include pre-college students, undergraduates interested in summer study, students seeking post-baccalaureate certification, mid-career professionals, and lifelong learners. CGS will continue to develop a wide array of degree and non-degree programs in ways that best serve these communities.

The School will take new steps in using distributed learning technologies to extend Penn's reach to off-campus groups, including pre-college students, college students away from campus, post-baccalaureate students, and alumni. These experiments should support efforts by faculty to introduce new technologies into the classroom. The SAS Distributed Learning Committee will help to shape new programs and policies for what promises to be a major extension of the boundaries of learning.


Management of Resources

The School of Arts and Sciences will maintain strong links between its planning and resource allocation processes to ensure that investments are being directed to those academic initiatives having the highest priority. This link between planning and budgeting will be coupled with incentive systems designed to promote the active management of existing resources and the generation of new resources.


Excellence in research and education requires a first-rate physical and capital infrastructure. The School is committed to an ambitious plan of construction, renovation, and capital renewal to address its most critical facilities needs. These initiatives are central to attracting and retaining a faculty of distinction, to conducting preeminent programs of research, and to delivering modern, high-quality educational programs.

Facilities Master Plan

In order to ensure that facilities investments are made wisely and in the context of both the current SAS strategic plan and the University's Master Plan, the School will update its facilities master plan by the summer of 1999. The School is committed to making the most effective use of its facilities through active management of space assignments and by maintaining quality space for all of its programs. Significant new investments will be focussed first on facilities that are central to our educational, programmatic, and research priorities. Investments in research facilities will be made in light of both academic priorities and the magnitude of external funding potential. Specific facilities initiatives that are critical to achieving our strategic priorities are:

  • Biology/Genomics: Complete planning and construction of major new laboratory and teaching facilities for Biology. Refurbish existing space, including the Biological Pond and Gardens.
  • Psychology: Complete a facilities master plan for Psychology and secure a new facility to house the department's teaching, research, and administrative functions.
  • Bennett Hall: Complete the Bennett Hall program plan and finish renovations associated with it. Eliminate Bennett Hall's deferred maintenance problems.
  • Music: Locate a new facility for the Department of Music or completely overhaul the existing Music complex.
  • Humanities centers: Secure a permanent and unified location for the Humanities Forum, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and a proposed center for folklore and ethnography.
  • College Hall: Complete deferred maintenance and relocate the Department of History from 3401 Walnut.
  • Lifelong learning programs: Identify a permanent on-campus location for the College of General Studies.

Facilities Security

The School is committed to working with Public Safety to ensure that all SAS facilities provide a safe working environment for faculty, students, and staff. To this end, the School will continue to implement electronic card access systems, door sensor devices, and appropriate secured separation of research and instructional space. The School will also facilitate adherence to the University's "after-hours" security policy in all of its buildings, including the prominent display of Penn ID cards for anyone in these buildings during this time.

Business and Administrative Processes

SAS will manage its financial, human and physical resources effectively and efficiently to achieve its academic goals. The School will continue to improve its administrative services with innovations in the areas of organization and process, training and human resources, and the use of technology.

Business Practices and Administrative Support Systems

The quality and efficiency of business processes will be continually assessed and improved through:

  • The establishment of regional business service centers that serve multiple departments and programs.
  • The development and ongoing assessment of best practices for core administrative processes such as payroll, procurement, and research services.
  • The evaluation of academic administrative support services such as course management, interdisciplinary program support, and secretarial services.

Human Resources

The School will maintain the highest standards of quality in the hiring and promotion of administrative and support staff. We will create an environment that encourages and rewards excellence in providing services in a "customer-friendly" manner to faculty, students and staff. We will move forward in this direction by:

  • Developing in-house training sessions to ensure that staff deliver excellence in business processes and minimize risks associated with federal rules and regulations.
  • Delivering a compensation program that rewards excellence and is competitive with internal and external labor markets.
  • Encouraging supervisors to develop mentoring relationships and to promote continuing education for their staff.
  • Implementing a School-wide policy of 100% completion of annual performance evaluations.

Administrative Information Systems

The School will continue to collaborate with the central administration to ensure the most effective deployment and use of centrally provided administrative systems. School-specific system investments will be made in those areas where there is the greatest potential for enhanced information to facilitate improved decision-making. High priority initiatives include:

  • The development of a course planning system to enhance student advising.
  • The creation of a web-based information system to track research proposals, awards, and expenditures by investigator and department.
  • The improvement of systems to process and track graduate funding.
  • The development of systems to facilitate more efficient use of space.


Development of New Resources

Achieving our ambitious goals will require efficient administration of existing resources and the development of new resources. We face intense competition from our peers. The institutions with whom we compete directly for faculty, students and external funding are moving forward with aggressive fundraising and expenditure plans aimed at advancing their respective schools of arts and sciences. We must take similarly bold action at the University of Pennsylvania if we are to achieve the goals outlined in this plan.

To implement the strategic initiatives outlined here, the School, in collaboration with the President and Provost, will work aggressively to increase program revenue and to secure new funds in support of our highest priority initiatives. We need operating support for faculty development and educational initiatives, capital funds for critically needed construction and renovation projects, and endowment for financial aid and programmatic support.

Programmatic Revenue Generation

We will increase our programmatic revenue in five primary areas:

  • Indirect cost recoveries on sponsored research. Our goal is to achieve annual growth of 6% per year through fiscal year 2003. Growth beyond this target is dependent on investments in Biology and Psychology facilities.
  • Tuition revenue from new professional master's degree programs.
  • Income generated from new distributed learning initiatives.
  • Royalties, equity, or research funds generated from technology transfer initiatives and corporate research and development partnerships.
  • Tuition revenue from programs for nontraditional learners.


The revenue initiatives outlined above, coupled with active management of existing resources, are critical first steps toward achieving targets for the School. While they are significant, these initiatives alone will not be sufficient to achieve the excellence to which we aspire. We must also work diligently with our external constituents to raise funds for our highest priority goals. These include:

  • Capital funds for the construction of improved facilities in Biology and Psychology
  • Endowment for chairs to support the programmatic initiative in American and Comparative Democratic and Legal Institutions
  • Endowment for School-specific undergraduate financial aid
  • Facilities and program support for the Humanities Forum
  • Endowed chairs
  • Endowment for faculty research funds
  • Funds for undergraduate education initiatives
  • Term funding to support the Experimental College
  • Funds to renovate Bennett Hall
  • Funds for improved facilities for the Department of Music
  • Funds to expand the number and attractiveness of graduate fellowships

We will launch this effort with a fundraising feasibility study to identify the potential size and scope of a School-based campaign effort. Ongoing development initiatives designed to increase funds for achieving the goals identified above include:

  • Organizing a volunteer structure to support the fundraising effort
  • Building the School's million-dollar prospect pool
  • Using internal databases and external resources creatively and aggressively to identify new prospects at all levels for priority needs
  • Creating new marketing opportunities (e.g. Penn Pals, Challenge Grants) to enhance fundraising capabilities
  • Identifying new prospects at all levels for priority needs
  • Expanding our development effort to include parents and international alumni
  • Integrating planned giving more fully into the major gift effort



The School will effectively communicate to its various internal and external constituencies its contributions to the advancement of society, including the quality and value of the liberal arts education that it provides to its students. By making others aware of the distinction and achievements of our faculty, students, and alumni, we will reinforce the School's leading position in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Where feasible, our marketing and communications efforts will emphasize the departments and programs identified in this plan.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Establish a distinct identity for the College that promotes a sense of community among its students and instills in them a sense of pride in their liberal arts education
  • Enhance undergraduate recruitment materials
  • Encourage alumni support by communicating School news to them on a regular basis and by fostering pride in the quality and impact of the School's academic programs
  • Vigorously expand efforts to increase national and local media coverage for the School
  • Cultivate effective lines of communication with civic and government entities in order to take best advantage of synergies between the School and the community


Achieving Our Goals

The School of Arts and Sciences will flourish in the years to come through the combined efforts of its dedicated and brilliant faculty, its energetic and talented students, a judicious administration, and a loyal group of alumni and friends. Working together to preserve the School's strengths and invest new resources in the initiatives outlined in this plan, these groups will achieve the following outcomes:

  • Penn's top ranking and reputation will be solidified.
  • The School's ability to recruit, develop, and retain a world class faculty will be strengthened.
  • The College will be identified as a national model for undergraduate liberal arts education at a research university.
  • Our doctoral programs will attract the finest graduate students.
  • The departments of English and History will advance to the top five.
  • The top ten rankings of Economics and Psychology will be firmly secured.
  • The quality, reputation, and ranking of Political Science will be significantly enhanced.
  • Our reputation as an international leader in the life sciences will be firmly established.


Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 27, April 6, 1999