Harnessing the power of Penn to fashion a better future.
By Amy Gutmann
If you have ever witnessed a nail-biting matchup in the Palestra, then you have experienced something incredible—and something unique to Penn. The roar shaking the Cathedral of College Basketball, the rush as our team scores, the exhilaration of pulling off a win for the ages. Yes, even the hoarse voice the following morning from cheering your head off. (Trust me, I’ve been there.) You’ve experienced the power of Penn.
That power was there when our men’s basketball team set the Palestra on fire in March with a historic win over Harvard, earning Penn its first Ivy League title in more than a decade. They went on to the NCAA tournament and did Penn proud in a hard-fought match against No. 1 seeded Kansas. We felt it when Penn women’s basketball swept Dartmouth aside to secure a spot in the Ivy League Tournament. Though they eventually lost to Princeton in the Ivy League final, the women’s team made a great showing against Albany in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The power was there when 85 percent of our varsity teams finished in the upper half of the Ivy League last season, the most in three decades. You could feel it this year, when Penn women’s track and field won the Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships for the first time since 1996 with six individual wins. And we felt that Penn power when junior Mark Andrew won both the 200- and 400-yard individual medley at the Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships, setting program, meet, and pool records in both events.
Men’s lacrosse coach Mike Murphy summed Penn’s power up perfectly after his team pulled off a spectacular victory over No. 1 Duke, scoring four goals in a row to come from behind: “Down 7–3, down 9–6—we showed the resilience to keep fighting.”
That gets to the heart of what is so exciting about these wins for our student-athletes. It’s not just the championships, nor the wow factor of beating the dominant No. 1 team in the nation. (Though both those things are thrilling, I admit!) It’s that total team effort in the face of setbacks and longshots we seek to inspire and nurture in all our people and in everything we as a University do: inclusion that changes lives, innovation that defines the future, and impact that transforms the world.
It’s the Penn quality that defines who we are. The power of Penn is that of an incredibly talented team at the top of its game, taking full advantage of the perfect moment for action to answer the call to achieve even higher greatness. To my mind, there’s nothing more powerful.
On April 12, we acted on that power. Penn’s trustees, deans, directors, senior leaders, and all of our volunteer leadership groups gathered on campus to officially launch The Power of Penn: Advancing Knowledge for Good, our three-year, $4.1 billion campaign to propel our University forward.
This campaign is the story of how Penn will fashion a better future. It’s the story of how, together, we will build on everything Penn has achieved today to shape and lead the world of tomorrow.
This is Penn’s moment. The times we live in call for bold thinking. Thinking that advances knowledge for good. These times call for opportunity that transforms lives. And for action that improves the world. Penn was made for such times. And the time has never been more right, or more urgent, for the Penn family to join forces. Our momentum is impressive. Our potential, unlimited. That is why we must act now. We must employ all that we’ve already achieved so that we can achieve so much more.
One of the most powerful ways we can build a better future for others and for the world is by ensuring greater access to opportunity. It’s how more and more people will thrive, drive positive change, and give back. Growing Penn’s inclusion is the first essential element of this campaign.
Half of our students today receive financial aid, and one in eight freshmen will be first in their families to graduate college. With The Power of Penn, we will take our commitment to all-grant financial aid even further. We will power more support, more dynamic resources, and more access to opportunity for every one of Penn’s hardworking, brilliant students. From first-gen student initiatives such as Penn First Plus; to expanded aid for graduate, professional, and international students; to thrilling new College House living, learning, and mentoring opportunities, Penn will be more inclusive than ever.
As more people gain greater access to opportunity, we cultivate a future that both inspires—and requires—greater creativity, more daring, and new solutions to big challenges. Here’s how we will further spark Penn’s groundbreaking innovation.
By endowing signature professorships that promote creativity, including our Penn Integrates Knowledge Professorships and Presidential Professorships; by endowing positions that attract the best curators, the boldest directors, and the winningest coaches; and by continuing to transform Penn’s stunning campus to achieve even greater heights of interconnectivity, creativity, and beauty.
Already named one of the four most innovative universities in the world, Penn will be the academic epicenter for global innovation. Our campus will be a beacon of boundary-leaping creativity with initiatives in the arts and humanities, including a once-in-a-century transformation of the Penn Museum. Support for our unrivaled multidisciplinary research and teaching will emblazon innovation at Penn.
As we improve lives and inspire innovation, the great good Penn can do here and around the world gains strength and speed. We will do even more to accelerate Penn’s impact. Patients around the world deserve the best chance to live and heal. With a brand new Patient Pavilion, Penn Medicine will define a new era in individualized care. Penn will change the paradigm in nursing, dentistry, public health, and veterinary science.
Policy makers facing global challenges need knowledgeable nonpartisan ideas. They will turn to Penn’s extensive global engagement initiatives, building on Perry World House, the Penn Wharton China Center, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Private and public enterprises need informed analytics and solutions to big problems. They will seek out Penn’s groundbreaking intellectual resources, such as the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative, and our work on sustainability through the Kleinman Center. Most importantly, we will expand the network and engagement of Penn alumni, parents, and friends, our most dedicated and important ambassadors.
Near and far, Penn will deepen relationships that make life better for our neighbors, our friends, and the world as Penn people put knowledge to work for good. Through The Power of Penn, our impact will expand exponentially.
I see an extraordinary possibility, and also an urgent necessity to go to the next level and take the next bold step forward in Penn’s historic journey of eminence. We are so fortunate to have this incredible community of people around the world who love Penn, who believe in Penn’s brilliant future, and who are willing to generously support Penn’s efforts to advance that future for all.
This spring, the Penn team embarked on a future-defining journey to expand opportunity, discover solutions, strengthen society, and—across all our Schools and Centers—to make Penn an even more formidable force for good in our world. The amazing people of Penn—our faculty, our staff, our students, and the incredible, unbeatable Penn family from around the globe are already rallying to this effort. Never have I been prouder, or more confident, of the future of this great University. This truly is the power of Penn.