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Welcome Back From the President
January 9, 2007, Volume 53, No. 17

Pursuing our Goals with Confidence

Those who manage to keep ambitious New Year’s resolutions understand the value of celebrating each step forward. Euripides put it well:  “Slight not what’s near through aiming at what’s far.”

By embracing the Penn Compact, our University community is aiming high both near and far. We strive to make a Penn education fully accessible to exceptional students from all backgrounds. We want to lead in the creation and communication of knowledge across all boundaries. We seek to embed the liberal arts, science, and culture in the learning experience of all our students. And we are committed to advancing local and global health, education, and well-being.

Let’s take stock of all that we have accomplished together under the Penn Compact.

First, we have made increasing access one of our highest priorities and have committed ourselves to leading the growing national movement for financial aid based on need. We waived our student loan requirement for those economically disadvantaged families with incomes less than $50,000. We created 187 new named scholarships and increased overall student aid almost 11% last year to nearly $275 million, with aid for graduate and professional students up 14% and graduate student stipends up 9.6%.

Almost 17% of the Class of 2010, our most diverse ever, comes from underrepresented minorities. As important, we have created a more welcoming environment. Penn recently was named among the ten best colleges for African-American students by Black Enterprise, for Hispanic students by Hispanic Magazine, and for gay and lesbian students by The Advocate

Second, new collaborative enterprises are enabling Penn students and faculty to develop new knowledge and improve skills. More than half of the undergraduate majors in the School of Arts and Sciences now are integrated, and we have awarded six new graduate interdisciplinary fellowships. We have appointed three Penn Integrates Knowledge professors, while our new Vagelos Life Sciences and Management joint degree program between SAS and Wharton has been fully subscribed from its inception.

Third, our impact on the Philadelphia region continues to grow exponentially. Our faculty members are working with public officials on disaster preparedness, hunger, crime prevention, health care, education, and family and child welfare. We have laid the groundwork for creating a magnet public high school focusing on international studies. And the Penn Alexander School sent more than three quarters of its graduating 8th graders to selective high schools.

Meanwhile, thousands of Penn students have enrolled in dozens of academically-based service courses that enable them to engage our West Philadelphia neighbors as partners in learning and progress. We recently announced a new Civic Scholars program, which, starting next fall, will enable students to incorporate policy-oriented research and community service into their Penn undergraduate experience.

Our students are also politically engaged. This year our Penn Leads the Vote student effort tripled the number of voters registered compared to the 2002 mid-term election.

We are building the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, which will provide the finest outpatient cancer and cardiac care on the East Coast, and we are moving forward with plans that will revolutionize cancer treatment and research. The Roberts Proton Therapy Center will be the largest and most comprehensive facility of its kind in the world.

Finally, Penn global engagement continues to deepen. We now boast not only the Ivy League’s highest number of students studying abroad (1,744 in 2005-06), but also the highest percentage of international students: 12% from more than 100 countries in 2005-06.  The four Distinguished International Scholars whom we recently appointed will deepen and broaden our students’ global perspectives.

Penn will take giant steps forward in 2007. In a few months, we will complete the purchase of the 24-acre postal lands and properties, launch our transformational campus development plan Penn Connects, and begin the largest campus expansion in Penn’s history. In the fall, we will kick off the biggest capital campaign in our history.

With the wind at our sails, we can pursue our goals with confidence. I look forward to celebrating more successes together in the coming year. Happy 2007!

Almanac - January 9, 2007, Volume 53, No. 17