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University Trustees’ November Meeting Coverage
November 10, 2009, Volume 56, No. 11

The University of Pennsylvania Trustees’ meetings last Thursday and Friday provided numerous instances for trustees, committee chairs and others to thank and honor the outgoing Trustee Chairman James Riepe for his decade of leadership, service and dedication to Penn.  On Thursday evening there was a dinner in his honor showcasing a video highlighting his contributions to Penn and at Friday’s Stated Meeting, President Amy Gutmann gave an update to ‘the Riepe Effect’ that has impacted the University in countless ways.

Dr. Gutmann said the campus is vibrant, with a commitment to sustainability. Penn has spent nearly $200 million to upgrade and renovate on-campus housing since 2004. The campus community recently celebrated the major renovations completed over the summer at Du Bois College House. The School of Social Policy & Practice also celebrated its new entrance and renovated lobby last month. In addition, the Annenberg Public Policy Center hosted the Leonore Annenberg Lecture given by architect Fumihiko Maki in their new building last Wednesday.  

Penn is exemplifying the Penn Compact in terms of local engagement: Penn was given first place as a “Best Neighbor” among colleges and universities and more than 1,500 Penn undergraduates were involved in the academically based community service courses last year.

Efforts to increase sustainability led Penn to the grade of ‘A-’ on the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s College Sustainability Report Card. Besides launching the Climate Action Plan this semester, and offering a minor in sustainability, Penn Park’s groundbreaking on Friday afternoon paved the way to unpave many acres of former parking lots and provide a 20% increase in green space on campus. Dr. Gutmann called the park a naming opportunity.

The Trustees passed a memorial resolution for trustee J. Peter Skirkanich who died on August 14, 2009 (Almanac September 8, 2009). In addition, President Gutmann announced that a Skirkanich Chair has been established by Trustees, including Andrew Rachleff, chair of the SEAS overseers, and George Weiss and James Riepe, in memory of Mr. Skirkanich.

The Trustees passed a resolution of appreciation for two Trustees who have completed ten years of service: Robert S. Blank, who was designated an Emeritus Trustee, and Paul Williams.

Three were elected Term Trustees: Jay S. Fishman, Robert M. Levy, and Dr. Marie A. Savard.

Provost Vincent Price reported that Penn remains at the forefront of critical interdisciplinary research in numerous fields including Neuroscience in Society which addresses social, ethical and legal challenges; Market & Social Systems Engineering which involves SEAS and Wharton. He also mentioned the Penn Global Forum that brings speakers to Penn.

EVP Craig Carnaroli gave the financial report for the three months ended September 30, 2009. For the Consolidated University budget, he reported an increase of $507.5 million in total net assets, from $7.561 billion as of June 30 to $8.068 billion as of September 30. Net assets from non-operating activities increased $469 million as compared to a decrease of $500.7 million in the first quarter of the prior fiscal year, as a result of positive investment performance. The total endowment value is $5.6 billion, an 8.3% increase since June 30. On the Academic side, total operating expenses increased 2% over FY09 due to increased salary and benefits expenses, driven by wage increase and increases in medical costs, tuition and retirement benefits and workers compensation costs. Cash flow has been affected due to the delay in Commonwealth appropriation payments. The Health System’s net assets increased by 12.9% since June 30, 2009.

Dr. Glen Gaulton gave the Penn Medicine Report since Dr. Arthur Rubenstein was out of town getting a lifetime achievement award from AAMC. Dr. Gaulton said Penn Medicine is managing the H1N1 public health emergency. He said the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine is exceeding expectations. The Stimulus grants for the School of Medicine researchers so far equals $136 million in new grants received. Dr. Gutmann thanked Dr. Gaulton for his efforts to move forward with the Anne and Jerome Fisher Translational Research Center (Almanac June 10, 2008).

Dr. Deborah Marrow’s Academic Policy Committee had heard presentations on Penn’s Theme Years that began three years ago and are anchored in the Penn Reading Project. The first theme revolved around Food in 2007-08; last year’s theme was Evolution and this year it is Arts and the City.

The Budget and Finance Committee presented six resolutions; to design and construct a new Law School replacement building on Sansom Street ($32.6 million); to authorize a master lease for five years for space at 3535 Market Street for the School of Medicine and the Office of Investments ($15.1 million); to authorize a 10-year lease for the University Libraries, Heritage Collection/High Density storage in West Deptford, NJ ($4.5 million); to authorize design and construction of the Phase IV campus electrical infrastructure upgrades ($3.8 million); to authorize SEAS design and construction for replacement of air handing units in the Towne Building ($2.5 million); design and construction of the Chemistry 1958 Building laboratory renovations Phase II ($2.5 million).

Development Committee Chairman George Weiss said that in spite of 2009 being an extremely challenging year, Penn is still well positioned with the Making History campaign at $2.53 billion or 75% of its overall goal with a strong pipeline for the three years remaining in the campaign.

Mr. Edward Mathias, chairman of the External Affairs Committee, said that University Communications is using social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to extend its reach. He also said that Maureen Rush, vice president of Public Safety, had reported to the committee that crime is down compared to last year and the Penn SOS has completed testing.

Mr. Mack said the Facilities Committee had heard a presentation about the Law School’s new building which will be a replacement for Pepper Hall, addressing the serious space needs of the school for more classrooms, offices and an auditorium as well as a larger moot courtroom.

Dr. Susan Taylor said that the Neighborhood Initiatives Committee had heard about the work of the Netter Center and the Penn IUR’s work with urban sustainability.

Student Life chair Julie Platt said that Dining’s new vendor, Bon Appetit, was chosen for its sustainable business practices and healthy options. Student Health Services is collaborating to protect against the H1N1 flu.

David Silfen’s Investment Board report noted that the AIF went up 9.9% July through September. He thanked Kristin Gilbertson and her staff in the Office of Investments.

There were appointments to boards of overseers and Mr. Riepe was appointed chair of the Penn Medicine Board.          

At the end of the Stated Meeting, a surprise resolution not shown on the agenda was presented by Mr. Mack and Mr. Weiss: 

Resolution of Appreciation for James S. Riepe

The Sphinx Senior Society identified Jim Riepe as a student with “a deep-rooted interest in bettering the University of Pennsylvania,” but it could not have predicted the depth of his commitment or the heights to which it would take him and Penn. 

Today we know that when Jim became Chair of the Trustees in 1999, he was absolutely the right person in the right position at the right time.  During the last five years of the transformative Rodin years and the first five years of the history-making Gutmann administration, he played a crucial role in making Penn the thriving, diverse, highly-rated university of choice it is today. 

Inheriting a Health System that was facing losses, he helped the administration to put it on sound financial footing by envisioning a new operating model, recruiting new leadership, and creating an entirely new governance structure.  Meanwhile, he guided the creation of prudent fiscal and operational policies through his leadership of the Investment Committee, Budget and Finance Committee, and Executive Committee.  His commitment, financial expertise, and ability to identify other volunteer leaders accounts for much of Penn’s current strength, to say nothing of two things many Chairs never embrace—starting a campaign and selecting a President.  He also supported the Postal Lands acquisition that will enable Penn to connect the campus to Center City by way of green space and recreational fields and facilities. Under his and President Gutmann’s leadership, the Making History campaign is establishing Penn as a new model for higher education for the 21st Century.

Jim’s phenomenal success as Chair of the Board of Trustees flowed from his deft handling of complicated situations and the great warmth of his personality.  From the endless stream of board meetings on campus to Campaign kick-off events around the world, he always made himself available, and was continually and energetically engaged.  A dazzling roster of leadership positions too numerous to name here further attests to Jim’s broad-based, long-term, unwavering dedication.

Liked and respected throughout the Penn community, Jim has a special contingent of admirers among students, who can always count on him not only for mentoring but also for colorful stories about college life.  His serious commitment to Penn undergraduates is manifested in the many students he and his alumna wife Gail have aided through Riepe Endowed Scholarships and their naming gift for Riepe College House, which is situated  in the historic Quadrangle where Jim, Gail’s father, and James Riepe, Jr., all lived as students. 

RESOLVED, that the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, on behalf of themselves, the administration, faculty, students, and alumni of the University, gratefully recognize Jim Riepe’s distinguished service as Chair of the Board of Trustees as he steps down from that role.  While it is impossible to quantify the profound impact he has had on Penn, we do know that its magnitude is matched by the enormous affection and gratitude he inspires in students and alumni and especially in his fellow Trustees.  We look forward to continuing to benefit from the talent and dedication that made Jim a football hero, as well as from the warmth, good humor, and great Penn spirit that make him a hero to us all.



Almanac - November 10, 2009, Volume 56, No. 11