Agenda for Excellence 1995-2000



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No. 32, SUPPLEMENT: Agenda for Excellence 1995-2000 (~ 375 k; 32 pages)

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The University will plan, direct, and integrate its government and community relations to enhance its missions of teaching, research, and service. The University also will clarify and strengthen the links between its academic programs and the public service performed by its faculty, students, administrators, and staff.

To achieve this goal, the University, working with the schools, will take the following steps, among others.

  • Strengthen relationships with the executive branch, Congress, and federal research agencies and work aggressively with them to influence program development and policies that support the scholarly and teaching activities of private research universities.

Relationships between the University and the executive branch, Congress and federal agencies are strong, durable and productive. The President of the University, the Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs, the Office of Federal Relations, and the deans and senior officers of the University have worked very hard to produce this outcome.

Research Funding--Federal Relations has worked to maintain congressional momentum for increased budgets for research (especially for NIH, NSF, DOD, DOE, and NASA). Penn was a founding member (with Harvard and MIT) of "The Science Coalition," a university and industry group dedicated to increasing federal funding for science. The Science Coalition is widely credited with both securing major increases in NIH funding and also playing a key role in convincing Congress that other fields of science (particularly the other science agencies mentioned above) should receive significant increases in funding.

Higher Education Policy--The Office of Federal Relations has sought to affect federal policies impacting higher-education institutions so that Penn can maintain its position as one of the nation's premiere research institutions. Areas in which the Office has worked effectively include federal tax policy (not-for-profit provisions, research and experimentation tax credits, tax treatment of employer-provided education assistance, etc.), immigration/H1B visas, student financial aid, and the recent presidential review directive affirming the long-term importance of the University-government research partnership.

Regulatory Developments--The various research agencies are constantly revising regulations and publishing new regulations that impact both the faculty members who receive grants and the University's overall research function. In addition, other federal departments and agencies publish regulations that have potential direct or indirect impact on the University. The Office of Federal Relations monitors regulatory developments and helps University faculty and administrators participate in the public comment process.

Advancing Penn's Research Mission --The Office has worked closely with Deans and faculty members to determine their needs, accompany them on trips to Capitol Hill, and better advance Penn's research agenda in Washington.

The Office staffs Dr. Rodin's service on the AAU Executive Committee, Presidential Committee on Science and Technology (PCAST), and the Brookings Institution board. The President's active involvement with these organizations has supported Penn, and Dr. Rodin, as a leader in higher education and research. Charles Vest of MIT is the only other university president serving on PCAST.

Republican National Convention--This Office was instrumental in establishing the coordination and framework for the University's involvement with the Republican National Convention held in Philadelphia during July/August 2000. This event presented a unique opportunity for the University to strengthen relationships with key government and civic leaders at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as provides an opportunity to showcase the University to the international media and delegates from across the country.

Develop and Promote Positive Legislative and Regulatory Health Care Initiatives--In partnership with the Associate Vice President of Government Relations for UPHS, significant progress has been achieved for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, including:

  • A grassroots advocacy campaign for BBA relief which led the nation in e-mail participation; passage of BBRA of 1999; and enactment of legislation valued at $24 million to Health System over 5 years. The Health System was awarded Delaware Valley Health Council of HAP Advocacy Award for 1999 for these efforts.
  • Reversal of HCFA position on reimbursement for Medicare Disproportionate Share/General Assistance Days calculation, providing almost $30 million to Health System.
  • 14.7% increase in NIH appropriations with targeted increases in capital funding (NCRR) and extramural researcher salary caps, UPHS' top priorities.


  • Continue to build and maintain effective relationships with the governor and state legislators.

Penn's relationships with Governor Ridge and with key state legislators are strong and stable, as evidenced by the following summary from the Office of Commonwealth Relations.

Commonwealth Appropriations-Over the course of the past five years Penn's annual Commonwealth appropriation has increased by $5.4 million. Penn receives the largest amount of direct state support of any private college or university in the country. This is due, in large part, to the Veterinary School and its non-preferred appropriation this year. In 2000, the School received a 7.8% increase from the Commonwealth for a total of $34.7 million. The Governor recognizes the important role Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine and its graduates play in maintaining the health, welfare and success of the Commonwealth's livestock, poultry, and equine industries.

Capital Budget Support-In the past two years Penn has received $23 million in state capital budget support for two projects-$5 million for the demolition of the Civic Center and $18 million for the construction of a new Veterinary School teaching and research facility.

Legislative Initiatives/Problems-The Office of Commonwealth Relations has worked to avoid the imposition of intrusive or burdensome legislation or regulations. For example, the Associate Vice President of Commonwealth Relations served as the University's representative working with the Commission on Post-secondary Education for the 21st Century, a blue ribbon panel appointed by the State House to look at state policy changes to make college more affordable.

State Funding for Life Sciences Greenhouse-The Governor has indicated strong support for this project that would develop a new state program designed to provide financial support for research activity in science and technology with economic development applications. This year the Pennsylvania Technology Investment Authority will provide $15 million for this type of research, with the Administration likely to substantially increase the funds in next year's budget.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recently awarded a $10.5 million grant that aims to establish the Philadelphia region as a high-tech hotbed of nanotechnology, which encompasses research in the life sciences, chemistry, physics, and engineering. The Center will be co-directed by Dr. David E. Luzzi, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Penn's Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter, and Dr. Kambiz Pourrezaei, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Drexel.

  • Build partnerships with corporations, educational institutions, medical institutions, and others that have financially invested in Philadelphia, to share resources and services that strengthen the community.

Dr. Rodin served as one of five co-chairs that lead Mayor Street's Transition Team. One of the obvious benefits of this service is the opportunity it gave to showcase the talent here at Penn, which is now being utilized by the City:

  • Executive Vice President John Fry is a member of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.
  • Vice President for Budget Michael Masch is a member of the School Board of Philadelphia
  • GSFA Dean Gary Hack: Chair of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission;
  • Tom Lussenhop, Managing Director Institutional Real Estate: Member of the Redevelopment Authority;
  • Rev. William Gipson, Chaplain: Member of the Human Relations Commission;
  • Thomas Sugrue, Bicentennial Class of 1940 Endowed Term Professor of History & Sociology: Member of the Historical Commission.


President Judith Rodin was also appointed Chair of the New Economy Development Alliance's board of directors by Mayor Street. The NEDA will work to develop high-technology business growth in the greater Philadelphia area.

  • Consistent with the University's basic missions of teaching and research, work with the community to promote economic development and increase the quality of life in West Philadelphia.
  • Continue efforts to increase University purchases from local businesses.
  • Promote business partnerships, public safety, and transportation initiatives.
  • Continue efforts to improve local elementary and secondary schools.
  • Encourage the development of service-learning programs at the University, in furtherance of Penn's long-standing commitment to the integration of theory and practice.
  • Encourage innovative opportunities for voluntary participation by Penn students, faculty, administrators, and staff in appropriate public service activities.

Working collaboratively with local residents, businesses, neighbor institutions, public agencies and other partners, the University of Pennsylvania is engaged in a long-term strategic effort to enhance the quality of life in the neighborhoods west of campus. Penn's goal is to achieve and sustain a comprehensive renewal of its West Philadelphia community in the areas of housing, schools, retail and economic development, and safety and security. Based on consultation and discussions with community members, partners, and advisors, Penn is acting with them on a number of fronts simultaneously, because a piecemeal response to today's urban realities is doomed to failure.

Penn and its partners are working on a total of five different fronts that, taken together, will have a significant impact on the West Philadelphia neighborhood adjacent to the University:

  • Safe, Clean, and Attractive Streets and Neighborhoods
  • Excellent School Options
  • High Quality, Diverse Housing Choices
  • Reinvigorated Retail Options
  • Increased Job Opportunities through Economic Development


Below is a brief summary of progress to date on these five fronts.

1. Clean and Safe/Neighborhood Services

University City District: The University City District (UCD), is a non-profit cooperative partnership, uniting the institutions, businesses, and communities of University City to improve the quality of life by making University City cleaner, safer, and more attractive.

The UCD was developed by Penn in cooperation with Drexel University, the VA Medical Center, West Philadelphia Partnership, Amtrak, the University City Science Center, the University of Pennsylvania Health System, the United States Post Office, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, Children's Seashore House, and others. Its board of directors is chaired by John Fry. Its staff manages programs and services that enhance public space, increase public safety, assist homeowners and commercial and rental property owners, and promote University City attractions. Special UCS initiatives have included:

  • 46 Safety Ambassadors deployed on foot and via bicycle to enhance public safety and provide pedestrian assistance; 30 deployed to provide trash removal, street cleaning and graffiti removal services.
  • New UCD headquarters are shared by a Philadelphia Police sub-station, which houses 25 additional Philadelphia police officers and three supervisors.

The UCD is also leading a collaborative effort to install new signage, street furniture, and other public amenities and to market University City as a destination spot:

  • UC Brite: In 1996, Penn created the UC Brite program with a goal of having sidewalk and house lights placed on private residences covering 123 square blocks to the west of Penn's campus. Penn provided initial financing and obtained funding commitments from other large landlords. Over 2,500 fixtures were installed at 1,200 properties.
  • UC Green: The mission of UC Green is to promote sensible development, landscaping, and beautification of the public spaces in University City. The program is utilizing in-kind contributions and volunteer work Efforts include landscaping outdoor public spaces and renewing community streetscapes with the aid of high school students, Penn student volunteers, and residential neighbors.


2. Education

Creation of new Penn-Assisted Public School: In June 1998, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Penn, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to work collaboratively on creating a preK-8 neighborhood school. The school will be located on a site owned by the University at 42nd and Locust Streets and will accommodate between 600 and 700 students. It will be a "best practices" demonstration model within the Philadelphia Public School District and will provide extensive community programming. The planning process involved three community-based committees in educational programming, community programming, and facility/site-configuration, and included over 70 individuals from the community, teachers, the School District, and Penn. Design has been completed and construction has begun. The school will open with the first two classes (kindergarten and first grade) in September, 2001.

Penn is the lead partner in both the University City Cluster and the West Philadelphia Cluster Resource Boards and supports efforts at 24 schools in West Philadelphia.

Revitalization of the Henry Lea School: Penn's Graduate School of Education has made a commitment to work intensively with the school district and the teacher's union to revitalize the instructional program and school climate at an under-resourced local K-8 school. Education faculty are assisting the school in implementing a coherent curriculum, designing appropriate training and professional development for staff as well as parents, building a positive school culture and establishing a school library.

Teacher Education: Penn's teacher education program is now focused on providing a unique curriculum focused on West Philadelphia schools. 50-75 students a year undertake a year-long student teaching experience in West Philadelphia schools. The faculty works with the K-12 teachers and teachers-in-training to prepare them for positions in West Philadelphia schools.

The University has an extremely effective and broad-based service learning project with over 100 academic courses coordinated by Penn's Center for Community Partnerships, and is expanding the numbers of faculty, students, staff, and alumni involved in mentoring, community activities, and school-to-work programs at schools throughout West Philadelphia.

Faculty and students are involved in a wide range of collaborations with community-based organizations, community development corporations, churches, and local schools, coordinated by the Center for Community Partnerships and individuals schools and centers at Penn.

Through the West Philadelphia Improvement Corps (WEPIC) program, Penn currently staffs and supports community schools at Shaw, Sulzberger and Sayre Middle Schools. An additional community school site has been initiated at West Philadelphia High School and the Henry C. Lea School, the first K-12 community school in the city.


3. Residential Housing

Single-Family Acquisition and Rehabilitation Program: Penn has purchased single-family properties to the west of campus that are in extremely deteriorated conditions, rehabilitating them to modern standards and re-selling them at market rates. An architect, several general contractors, and several sub-contractors for rehab work are from West Philadelphia. The University has provided approximately $3 million to subsidize the cost of renovating these homes. To date, 20 properties have been acquired, rehabilitated and resold.

Enhanced Penn Mortgage Program: The University has substantially revised its mortgage program to encourage Penn affiliates to live in West Philadelphia. Partners include Mellon Mortgage, Berean Federal Savings Bank, Commerce Bank and GMAC Mortgage.

Provide financial benefits/incentives to live in West Philadelphia:

  • $15,000 one lump sum incentive, or
  • $3,000 per year for next seven years
  • 214 homes have been purchased by Penn affiliates under this program to date.

Home Improvement Loan Program: Penn has developed an exterior home improvement program consisting of a $7,500 matching grant to encourage renovation and façade repair of single-family homes owned by Penn affiliates in West Philadelphia. There have been 108 participants in this program to date.

Multi-Family Housing: The University is deeply involved in balancing the needs of its students and the requirements of a healthy multi-family property market with numerous moderate cost rental choices available for students and the general community. Penn's multi-family properties are an important stabilizing influence in the local market. Penn is constantly seeking additional means for achieving a well-balanced student/general community tenant base. Partners in this work include Fannie Mae, First Union Bank, the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and Trammell Crow.


4. Retail Development

Hamilton Square: Construction has progressed on a state-of-the-art facility at 40th and Walnut Streets that will include a multi-screen cinema, a fresh food market, and a parking garage. The $20 million commercial component of this project is being entirely funded by private financing sources who are helping the University leverage its core investments in the neighborhood.

40th Street Redevelopment:

University City District, with support from Penn, developed the 40th Retail Market Study, the result of a series of meetings between University and community representatives to implement strategies for improving the retail corridor.

From 1997-99, Penn, the UCD, and community partners made streetscape improvements and façade improvements to 40th Street between Spruce, Walnut and Chestnut Streets. The City is extending these improvements further north, to Filbert Street, and south to Baltimore Avenue.


5. Economic/ Job Developement

Penn Purchase Program: Penn is working to seize opportunities for business development in West Philadelphia through the use of Penn's substantial purchase power for everyday items and office equipment, as well as for construction services.

Buy West Philadelphia Program: Penn has a program to identify and purchase products from local and minority-owned businesses. In addition, Penn is working to create mentoring opportunities to help these businesses successfully grow and expand, especially through the Wharton Entrepreneurship Program.

In fiscal year 2000, over $55 million in local purchases were made from West Philadelphia vendors, up from $13.8 million in 1994.

Sansom Common Economic Opportunity Program: Penn has created a major retail and hotel complex adjacent to the campus. The University has been diligent about involving minority-, women-, and West Philadelphia-based businesses in all aspects of Sansom Common's development. The project has:

  • Awarded over $18 million in construction contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses, representing 43% of the total contract value, and employed minority and female construction workers for nearly 32% of over 200,000 total labor hours worked on the site.
  • Hired 151 West Philadelphia residents and 559 Philadelphia residents to work construction.
  • 38 residents of West Philadelphia are enrolled in a classroom training program that is preparing its participants to take and pass the apprenticeship tests given by building trade unions. Over 90 participants have graduated from the same program and passed the tests for various trade unions.
  • Conducted a successful recruitment effort of West Philadelphia residents to staff over 50% of new employment positions created by Sansom Common merchants.

High Tech Business Incubator: The University has formed P2B, a subsidiary corporation that provides business development support to entrepreneurs. P2B provides access to the seed capital, advisory services and infrastructure needed to successfully launch new business.

The Keystone Opportunity Zone: Penn collaborated with the City of Philadelphia to secure "Keystone Opportunity Zone" (areas that are exempt from most state and local business taxes) designation by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for key development sites along Market Street West, the Upper Schuylkill River area of University City, and sites surrounding the Civic Center. KOZ designation will provide tax incentives to entice new and expanding businesses to locate in West Philadelphia.

Initiated the Retail/Customer Service Skills Training for 26 West Philadelphia residents (including Welfare-to-Work recipients) as participants in classes taught by the Community College of Philadelphia.

Conducted a dispatch training program with EDS. Fifteen students were selected to participate and those who complete the program will be certified and thoroughly prepared to work in an Emergency 911 Call Center or any dispatching office.


Center for Community Partnerships

As a precursor to, and a participant in, Penn's West Philadelphia Initiatives, Penn's Center for Community Partnerships continues to be the nation's leader and an international model in academic service learning and volunteer work in public service activities. Following are highlights from the Center's efforts over the past five years.

The Center has helped to develop three action research projects in which undergraduates' research and service learning play central roles. These research projects, which exemplify the integration of research, teaching, learning, and service, include:

  • Urban Nutrition Initiative instructs students in the relationship between food, nutrition, and health in urban America.
  • African American Culture and Literacy Research integrates courses, research, teaching, and volunteer programs to help improve the reading and literacy levels of students attending public schools in West Philadelphia.
  • The Urban Environment: Environment Lead (Pb) as an Urban Pediatric Crisis -- "Environmental Studies 404" and "Environmental Studies 405" courses have been engaged in a lead reduction study that links students to work at Shaw Middle School on education and outreach on lead.

Creation of New Academically Based Service-Learning Curricula (ABCS)--Penn is well poised to be considered the top research university in undergraduate education based on its expansion of research and service learning opportunities. The Provost's Seminar explores how academically based community services courses and projects might be developed and connected along the themes of Health and Society, Schooling and Society, Environment and Society, and Culture of Society.

A Model for Community Schools--Penn's higher education-assisted community schools model is being increasingly adapted across the country. The WEPIC Replication Project has continued to grow since its planning (1992) and first implementation (1994) grants from the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. In 1994, three universities were funded to adapt the Penn model. The past five years have seen significant expansion of the WEPIC Replication Project with multiyear funding (1997-2000) from the Fund ($932,000) as well as the Corporation for National Service (CNS) --Learn and Serve America ($500,000). As a result, a total of ten colleges and universities participated in the project. In August 2000, the WEPIC Replication Project was awarded a three-year $1.5 million grant under the new Community/Higher Education/School partnerships program of the CNS. A total of 21 colleges and universities will be participating by early 2001.


A New Eastward Vision: Development Along the Schuylkill River

Over the past five years, it has become apparent that to ensure that Penn has sufficient space to thrive and grow in the future, only one area of opportunity exists: portions of the U.S. Postal Service properties at 30th Street. If it is done properly, the redevelopment of these properties would not only benefit Penn, but would also create a dynamic new engine for spurring high-tech economic growth for the city and the region for many years to come.

The Keystone Opportunity Zone provides high-tech companies with the tax-free space needed for Philadelphia to compete with areas such as northern Virginia and Cambridge. The Science Center's current development of its "Port of Technology" building demonstrates the market-driven demand for new private research and laboratory space adjacent to Penn, Drexel, the University of the Sciences, and Children's Hospital.

As evidenced by the "Digital Greenhouse" and "Lightning Manufacturing" initiatives, Governor Ridge made harnessing the economic power of emerging technologies a high priority--and his administration is very interested in funding a similar project in the southeastern portion of the State. The area's location between the campuses of Penn and Drexel sufficiently fulfills the needs of both institutions for critical future expansion space, without any resulting displacement of or disruptions to the residential neighborhoods of West Philadelphia.

A promising vision for the Schuylkill River Area would include:

  • Mixed-use development project combining new high-technology commercial, research, supportive retail, and high-rise residential uses, along with space for the future institutional growth of Penn and Drexel.
  • Optimization of Keystone Opportunity Zone tax benefits to spur the creation of a new high-tech hub for Philadelphia.
  • Creation of critical linkages with the commercial vitality of Center City's "Market Street West" area.

Overall Project Benefits to the City of Philadelphia would include:

  • Creation of thousands of new construction and permanent jobs for Philadelphia, and a resulting increase in the City's wage tax base and revenues.
  • Further burnishing of the Philadelphia region's excellent reputation in the areas of health services, biomedical research, and higher education.
  • Enhanced economic development potential for more technology transfer and start-up business activities.
  • Institutional growth and long-range enhancement of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.


PRINT this document

No. 32, SUPPLEMENT: Agenda for Excellence 1995-2000 (~ 375 k; 32 pages)

Note: To read Acrobat® files, download the Adobe® Acrobat® Reader for free!

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 32, May 1, 2001