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Welcome Back from the President

January 10, 2012, Volume 58, No. 17

Penn: A Pantheon of Teaching, Research & Public Service

Happy New Year and welcome back to Penn!  As we embark on a new semester, I want to thank every member of the Penn community for continuing to distinguish this University as a place where individual passions fuel a collective purpose. Because of your commitment to collaboration, creativity, and innovation, 2011 was a year filled with noteworthy achievements. I know 2012 will continue this trend. 

In December, we proudly announced that Penn Med received $16.3 million—one of the largest individual gifts made to medical research in the United States in 2011—to establish the Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative. In October, President Barack Obama presented professor Ralph Brinster of Penn Vet with the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists and engineers. Dr. Brinster is the first veterinarian, and the eighth Penn faculty member, to receive this prestigious award.

The American Physical Society elected five Penn faculty to its 2011 APS Fellowship class. They are Mark Devlin, Alan “Charlie” Johnson, and Joshua Klein of the Department of Physics and Astronomy; Feng Gai of the Department of Chemistry; and Howard Hu of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics.

Kudos go to Barbara Savage of the Department of History, who won the Grawemeyer Award in Religion for her extremely insightful book Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion.  And to James Corner, Chairman of the Department of Landscape Architecture, who was awarded the commission to design new public spaces for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park South in London.

These, of course, are but a few of the many remarkable achievements made by Penn faculty last year. I am especially proud that in 2011 the entire Penn community put into motion a comprehensive plan that will catapult forward our commitment to creating a university community that reflects and respects the richness of the world it serves by introducing Penn’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence. As an important step, Provost Vince Price has appointed John L. Jackson, Jr., the Richard Perry University Professor of Communications and Anthropology, to be Senior Advisor to the Provost for Diversity. I look forward to working diligently with Vince, John, and all of you to make Penn a place of even greater creativity, innovation, and inclusion.

Outside our classrooms, studios, and laboratories, we saw a transformation of Penn’s campus in 2011. In September, we celebrated the opening of Penn Park, the centerpiece of our Penn Connects long-range development plan, which weaves together our campus, West Philadelphia and Center City. We also officially opened the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, and named the Perelman School of Medicine, with great gratitude to Raymond and Ruth Perelman for their historic gift.

The opening of Penn Park marked the completion of the first phase of Penn Connects, and this year we will launch Penn Connects 2.0, the second phase of the plan. This second phase will include the opening of Golkin Hall, the beautiful new wing at Penn Law, the completion of the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, and the renovation of our historic ARCH building. We will continue with our transformative plans to construct a new College House between 33rd and 34th on Chestnut Street, and we also will enter the design phase of the new Neural Behavioral Sciences building.
Next fall, we will add even more green space to campus with the opening of Shoemaker Green in front of the Palestra. Our second college green will be a welcoming, tree-lined public commons with walkways and an inviting sitting area. Overlooking Shoemaker Green will be the new Information Commons at Franklin Field, scheduled for completion this February. This new space will provide our students with a study area that offers unbeatable views of our bustling campus.

Finally, I know that you will join me in expressing gratitude to the many remarkable Penn alumni and friends who have been so avidly generous in their support that we reached our Making History campaign goal of $3.5 billion in 2011. In 2012, we will continue working toward all of our remaining priorities in the campaign, which include the funding of more endowed professorships (we’ve funded 100 so far in the campaign but need more for our eminent faculty), student financial aid (which as you know is essential to making a Penn education affordable to outstanding students regardless of their financial circumstances), our high priority capital projects, and all the remaining School and Center priorities.

New Year’s is a time for reflection and resolution. I know that, as this exceptional community of dedicated scholars and teachers moves forward, we will continue to put Penn in the pantheon of teaching, research and public service. Thank you for making this an academic home to which I am always happy to return. Have a great semester!

Amy Gutmann Signature

–Amy Gutmann

Related: Senior Advisor for Diversity: John Jackson

Almanac - January 10, 2012, Volume 58, No. 17