Amy Gutmann’s inauguration as the University’s eighth president featured a day of community service, a concert on Hill Field, and a wide-ranging symposium, among other events. In her inaugural speech the president called for a new “Penn Compact.”
By John Prendergast
Greetings, President Gutmann:Words of welcome from Penn’s faculty, students, administration and staff, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, learned societies, and institutions of higher education.
Inaugural Speech: From Excellence to Eminence
Symposium: Rising to the Challenges of a Diverse Democracy
“Together we shall rise, as together we serve,” proclaimed Penn President Amy Gutmann at the conclusion of her impassioned inaugural address, in which she called on the University community to embrace a “Penn Compact” pledging to increase access to a University education to all qualified applicants regardless of ethnicity or income; to foster interdisciplinary research and teaching and forge a new partnership between arts and sciences and the professions; and to engage society from the local to the global level.
“By putting our principles into ever better practice, our Penn family will rise from excellence to eminence in teaching and research as we become ever more accessible,” Gutmann told the audience assembled in Irvine Auditorium and watching from two remote locations on campus or seeing the live webcast. “I ask that you join me in uniting behind our Penn Compact. Let us make this new beginning at Penn worthy of our boldest aspirations.”
The October 15 ceremony investing Gutmann, who took office on July 1, as Penn’s eighth president was the centerpiece of a week of inauguration-related activities that began in an atmosphere far removed from the vivid, vaulted interior of Irvine. On Saturday, October 9, Gutmann and more than 500 student, faculty, and staff volunteers participated in a day of community service at Sayre High School, painting interior walls, improving the grounds, and performing other clean-up tasks around the school, located at 58th and Walnut streets.
There was also a concert on Hill Field Wednesday night. Featuring the Philadelphia-based hip-hop group, The Roots, and warm-up act the Pat McGee Band, this was intended primarily for students—plus Gutmann herself, a self-described fan of The Roots’ music.
After the inaugural ceremony on Friday morning, a free lunch was offered on College Green and Wynn Commons, with a variety of international choices. The inaugural events culminated—or segued into Homecoming Weekend—with a series of panel discussions on Friday afternoon that examined various aspects of the inaugural theme of “Rising to the Challenges of a Diverse Democracy.” (For a detailed report on the symposium, see below.)
At one point during the inauguration, as representatives of Penn’s faculty, students, and staff offered warm words of welcome to Dr. Gutmann and peers in the worlds of scholarship and higher education praised her gifts as a scholar, teacher, and leader, James S. Riepe W’65 WG’67, chairman of Penn’s Board of Trustees, remarked from the podium, “It’s a gray day outside, but it’s very sunny in here.”
The threat of heavy rain—which however, held off for most of the day—caused the cancellation of a planned procession down Locust Walk before the ceremony. Instead, participants—who included Penn’s former presidents Dr. Judith Rodin CW’66 Hon’04, Dr. Claire Fagin Hon’94 (who served as interim president), Dr. Sheldon Hackney Hon’93, and Martin Meyerson Hon’70; trustees; flag bearers representing Penn’s classes, alumni clubs, and diversity-alliance groups; speakers at the ceremony and the symposium; and delegates from academic institutions and learned societies; as well as Riepe and, of course, Gutmann—gathered in the Hall of Flags in Houston Hall before the ceremony’s start at 10:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, the audience, clutching color-coded tickets—from red (first several rows) to yellow (balcony)—quickly filled Irvine’s side aisles and those seats in the middle not reserved for members of the procession. (The ceremony was also broadcast in Huntsman Hall and the Towne Building on campus; the webcast can still be seen at www.upenn.edu/ secretary/inauguration/webcast.html.) In the front row, Gutmann’s husband and daughter, Dr. Michael Doyle, the Harold Brown Professor of Law and International Affairs at Columbia University, and Abigail Gutmann Doyle, a doctoral student in chemistry at Harvard, stood talking with friends and accepting congratulations.
When the processional music struck up, the audience rose to watch the procession enter in their academic regalia—in which red, turquoise, maroon, gray, orange, and other shades accented the mostly black—and take their places in the audience or on stage. The last to come, preceded by Leslie Kruhly, the secretary of the University, who carried the mace symbolizing the University’s authority, were Riepe and Gutmann. She paused a moment on the stage, beaming at the audience as they applauded her, before taking her seat for the invocation by University Chaplain William C. Gipson.
Then Riepe, who had headed the 20-member search committee composed of trustees, faculty, and students that recommended Gutmann to become Rodin’s successor last January, stepped to the podium. “It is my great honor to welcome you to the inauguration of Amy Gutmann as the eighth president and 24th chief executive officer of the University of Pennsylvania,” he said, going on to describe presidential inaugurations as occasions “heavy with the weight of tradition” but also a time of new beginnings, whose solemnity “symbolizes the awesome responsibilities Penn’s president will bear for the well-being of this community of scholars and learners, and for its contribution to society at large” and whose joyfulness “symbolizes our enduring love for this educational community.”
He then introduced the speakers who were there to offer greetings to Dr. Gutmann. (See below for complete texts of these remarks.)
Penn Law Professor Charles W. Mooney, chair of the faculty senate, called Gutmann’s election the fulfillment of the faculty’s “greatest hopes” for a scholar and leader of “impeccable credentials.” Undergraduate Assembly Chair Jason A. Levine emphasized Gutmann’s gifts as a motivator for students “to take on ambitious intellectual pursuits and serve in the community” even in the first months of her tenure—and expressed the (joking) hope that “when we beat Princeton, perhaps we can coax you into helping us tear down the goalpost,” while Simi R. Wilhelm, chair of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, offered a “collective and warm welcome [from] the next generation of scholars and teachers.”
Rodney V. Robinson, chair of the Penn Professional Staff Assembly, assured the president that his constituents were “ready to roll!” And Sylvie M. Beauvais, who chairs the Weekly Paid Penn Professional Staff Assembly, asserted that Gutmann “will lead us in creating a compassionate community.”
Penn Alumni President Paul Williams W’67 welcomed Gutmann on behalf of “Penn alumni here today, as well as over 250,000 Penn alumni worldwide, who are here in spirit.”
Williams called the inauguration “a unique moment for all to reflect on our heritage and the profound contribution Penn has made to our lives and to the society at large” and expressed appreciation for Gutmann’s “recognition of the strategic role loyal Penn alumni may play in the task of bringing Penn to the next levels of achievement.” The alumni, he said, seek to advance the credo of life-long learning, to foster mutual respect and civility, and to celebrate “diversity in every domain of the University.”
These ambitions and goals are perennial, but demand “a new vision to guide us going forward,” he added. “President Gutmann, thank you for accepting that mission. Thank you for embracing that pragmatic, inventive spirit that is so uniquely Penn.”
Looking back on the “enormous progress” Penn made in the past decade in helping the city and state address the “challenges that exist beyond the walls of ivy,” Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell C’65 Hon’00 admitted that, “When we learned that Dr. Rodin was leaving many of us thought, ‘Oh my gosh, are we going back?’”
Instead, under Gutmann, Rendell added, “We’re going forward at warp speed.” Noting that he has been described as someone with “boundless passion and boundless energy,” the governor added that, nevertheless, “my energy and my passion was outstripped in a few short moments,” after meeting with Gutmann. “I was tired,” he said.
Representing the learned societies, Frank H. T. Rhodes, president of the American Philosophical Society, called Gutmann “the ideal leader for Penn in the 21st century” and, citing her leadership roles in several scholarly societies, “one of us,” which he said was a “very good omen for the future” of both the learned societies and Penn.
Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman, with whom Gutmann had served as provost, expressed delight that Penn had shown the “wisdom to entrust its presidency to a scholar, teacher, and leader of Amy Gutmann’s stature,” despite the fact that it represented a “test of my character,” since “Penn’s gain [came] at Princeton’s expense.” She called Gutmann a “true daughter of Princeton”—some restiveness from the audience there—“even though her colors are now red and blue”—followed by hearty applause.
Returning to the podium as the moment of Gutmann’s formal investiture approached, Riepe noted that it was “heartening that the speakers thought we made a good choice.” Emphasizing that that was an opinion shared by every member of the search committee, he called Gutmann “the right person, at the right time, in the right place.”
Quoting 19th-century poet and author James Russell Lowell that, “It was in making education not only common to all, but in some sense compulsory on all, that the destiny of the free republics of America was practically settled,” Riepe said that Gutmann’s “entire career as a teacher, scholar, and moral and political philosopher has been centered on the critical linkage of education and democracy” referenced there. “She has thought long and deeply about the ways education can strengthen the institutions of democracy, and now she will lead Penn to a position of pre-eminence in precisely that vital charge.”
Gutmann’s enthusiastic acceptance of the Penn presidency when it was offered to her stemmed from a recognition that Penn is ideally suited to rise to that ideal, Riepe added. “From our first institutional breath under Mr. Franklin’s guidance, we have sought to link theory and practice. While many of our peers were veritable cloisters, Penn strove to educate and train the citizens of a feisty little colony with a will to independence and greatness.”
Calling the “marriage of Amy Gutmann and Penn” something that was “clearly meant to be,” Riepe held up the President’s Badge, a silver medallion and chain created in 1981 that signifies the authority of Penn’s chief executive, and placed it over Gutmann’s head. “By the authority of the trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, I hereby invest you as president,” he said. Then they kissed in congratulations, as the audience rose to its feet and applauded thunderously.
Continuing the symbolism of office, Riepe then handed over the keys to the University to Gutmann. “More than 100 years ago, Pennsylvania Governor Daniel Hartman Hastings delivered these three keys to Charles Custis Harrison on his induction as provost of the University,” he said. “With these keys, symbols of the custodianship of this great university, I entrust the University of Pennsylvania to your sure leadership. Congratulations.”
Stepping to the podium after another round of applause to make her inaugural address, Gutmann joked of the keys, “I don’t know what they open—but we will find out.” (The full text of her speech follows this article.)
When she had first accepted the presidency of Penn, Gutmann told the audience, she was asked by a colleague at Princeton, “where I had worked happily for 28 years,” whether she knew what she was getting into. In answer, she cited attractions such as Penn’s “beautiful campus in the heart of a great American city,” the University’s distinguished faculty and dedicated staff, “extraordinarily talented and energetic students,” and Founder Benjamin Franklin, whose “pragmatic vision for higher education is no less essential today than it was in 1749” when he published his Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania.
While all that was enough to reassure her colleague, Gutmann continued, there was something she hadn’t known —“the people of Penn, and what you believed about your university.” In the four months since she took office, that has changed. “You have informed me, you have advised me, and you have even fed me,” she said. “But most of all you have helped me envision how Penn can better meet our responsibilities to higher education and the world. That is our mandate. I say our because I consider you not only partners but now part of my extended public family.”
At the mention of family Gutmann looked down at her husband and daughter to thank them, and recalled her parents, who “instilled in me a great love of learning, a commitment to defending the dignity of all people, and the confidence to pursue my dreams.
“What better way,” she added, “to uphold these ideals than to serve as Penn’s eighth president!”
After calling on Penn’s former presidents to stand “so we can all show our appreciation for your great service to the University of Pennsylvania,” Gutmann turned to the question of what comes next: “How do we build on the progress that Penn has made? How do we rise from excellence to eminence in all our core endeavors?” If at moments before this her speech had been lighthearted, now there was a new firmness mixed with the enthusiasm in her voice as she leaned over the podium for emphasis or gestured as if to hold the University in her hands in presenting her concept of a “Penn Compact.”
Noting that universities have a responsibility to use knowledge to serve society, she sketched in some of the problems that make this “a daunting task”—from the millions who lack health care or access to education, to politicians who demonize opponents rather than debate issues, to a civic life that “fails to make a virtue of our diversity” and a larger world that “is even more dangerously divided” in which “ignorance and hatred create murderous schisms that show no signs of narrowing.”
In contrast to this spirit of division, on Penn’s campus, she said, “I was inspired by a University community that is much more united than our society … and to a greater degree than even some people at Penn recognize.” The “Penn Compact,” she added, is a way to “put that unity on firmer ground.”
Based on the shared understanding that “Divided we fail. United we flourish,” the Compact encompasses three principles: to increase access to a Penn education through more financial aid to undergraduates and graduate students, to better integrate knowledge from different disciplines and professional perspectives in research and teaching, and to engage locally and globally.
For her own part, Gutmann promised to engage in the full life of the university, encourage students to make the most of their time here, support faculty in pursuing their work, lead the staff in creating the ideal climate for teaching and learning, and strive to keep alumni “ever more closely connected with the life of our University.”
Fulfilling the Penn Compact “won’t be easy,” she said. “There will be challenges. But we will meet them and we will succeed.”
After a final round of applause, Chaplain Gipson stepped to the podium again for the benediction, calling on everyone to “depart this place with quickened minds and blazing hearts for the Penn Compact. Amen.”
Then the procession reversed course, led this time by University Secretary Leslie Kruhly, followed by Gutmann and Riepe, and the rest of the audience, who filed out onto Spruce Street to begin the new era.—J.P.
SIDEBAR | WELCOME
Greetings, President Gutmann
Words of welcome from Penn’s faculty, students, administration and staff, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, learned societies, and institutions of higher education.
Charles W. Mooney, Jr., chair of the Faculty Senate
Greetings from the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania.
We are delighted to welcome Amy Gutmann to Penn.
The selection of Dr. Gutmann as president fulfilled our greatest hopes. She brings to Penn impeccable credentials as a preeminent scholar and outstanding administrator. And she has the vision and energy to lead us forward.
The past decade has witnessed enormous successes for the Penn community, including our University City neighbors. We look to the future with unflagging hope for continued success. But hope alone will not suffice. Treading water will move us nowhere, even backward.
Not to worry. Dr. Gutmann has challenged us to step up the pace. She has exhorted us to pursue our core missions of creating and disseminating knowledge that will make the world a better place. She has challenged us to stay the course of pursuing and preserving Penn’s unique position among the world’s great research universities. And she has challenged us to see that Penn plays an important role in fostering social justice and democratic institutions.
But as we pursue excellence and justice, we must always keep intellectual freedom ringing within the Penn community. We believe that vigorous debate and intellectual rigor thrive in an atmosphere of civility and respect for one another. As members of the diverse Penn community, we are entitled to express our views and, yes, even to be wrong.
Consider the following passage taken from Langston Hughes’ poem, “Democracy”:FreedomIs a strong seedPlantedIn a great need.I live here, too.I want freedomJust as you.
Dr. Gutmann, you have challenged us to rise to the challenges of a diverse democracy. We the Penn faculty accept your challenges. We accept them gladly. And we especially look forward to meeting them with you as our colleague. Welcome to Penn.
Jason A. Levine, chair of the Undergraduate Assembly
On behalf of Penn’s undergraduate students, I am honored to welcome Dr. Amy Gutmann to this great university. As students, we wanted a president who is renowned not only as a scholar, but also as a leader and a motivator. We found all of this in Dr. Gutmann. She has developed a powerful vision about the contribution that universities can make to society and democracy. I have met so many students who already feel a special connection with Dr. Gutmann through her writings.
As a leader, Dr. Gutmann brings new energy, optimism, and inspiration to Penn. Her Inaugural theme, “Rising to the Challenges of a Diverse Democracy,” recognizes many issues that we face today. In the short time she has been here, Dr. Gutmann has motivated students to take on ambitious intellectual pursuits and serve in the community.
She has already shown her willingness to work with students and listen to their opinions. Her warm smile encourages all of us to speak freely. Dr. Gutmann, we undergraduates look forward to working with you, learning from you, and thriving together. And when we beat Princeton, perhaps we can coax you into helping us tear down the goalpost. Just kidding.
The undergraduate community welcomes you wholeheartedly, and we wish you health and happiness in your new post as president of the University of Pennsylvania.
Simi R. Wilhelm, chair of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly
On behalf of graduate and professional students across the University of Pennsylvania, I would like to officially extend a collective and warm welcome to our eighth president, Dr. Amy Gutmann.
As the next generation of scholars and professionals, we need a president who understands the appropriate marriage of practical and classical instruction; we need a leader who can champion a vision for common academic values across professions and disciplines; we need a colleague who can relate to the hours we pore over our experiments, case studies, and journal articles; and perhaps most importantly, we need a president who provides a strong role model both as a scholar and as a professional institutional leader.
We are celebrating today because in Amy Gutmann, we have just that president.
Dr. Gutmann has embraced Penn’s dual commitment to liberal and practical education. Her vision for democratic education speaks to all of us and her distinguished scholarly works inspire us to push the boundaries of our own disciplines. In addition she exudes boundless energy and excitement for this institution and our role in its eminent future.
Lucky us and lucky Penn!
Dr. Gutmann, on behalf of over 11,000 graduate students who represent new friends and colleagues, I welcome you to your new institutional and scholarly home. Thank you for your commitment to preparing us for future positions in which we can honor our Penn legacy and for providing an elegant example of how to fulfill it.
Rodney V. Robinson, chair of the Penn Professional Staff Assembly
On behalf of the administrative and professional staff, I am honored to officially welcome you, Dr Gutmann, to our extraordinary Penn family.
As you have learned from Professor Mooney, Jason, and Simi, our faculty are world-renowned, and our students the best and brightest anywhere. You have also discovered that the dedicated men and women who support the teaching and research mission of this institution daily are truly remarkable and among the finest in higher education.
Dr. Gutmann, we are grateful that you have taken the time to get to know us. Encouraged by your vote of confidence in us, we have rallied to your call to lead Penn to new heights of excellence. You can count on our expertise and support to make your vision for Penn a reality. Dr. Gutmann, the administrative and professional staff is ready to roll!
Sylvia M. Beauvais, chair of the Weekly Paid Professional Staff Assembly
The Penn weekly paid professional staff joyfully welcomes the arrival of Dr. Amy Gutmann. The inauguration of a president is an occasion for the entire Penn community to renew and rededicate ourselves to our common purpose. Under Amy Gutmann’s leadership, all the engaged participants in University life—the students, the faculty, and the staff—can seek new ways to make this institution a world-class leader in teaching and research. Dr. Gutmann will lead us in creating a compassionate community that fully embodies the democratic values of deliberation and respectful exchanges at every level. The staff embraces President Gutmann, and we are thrilled that an outstanding scholar of deliberative democracy has been chosen to shape the campus culture into the 21st century.
Edward G. Rendell, Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Good morning everyone. When I applied to the University of Pennsylvania in 1961, the fact that Penn was located in a large urban center was not looked at as a plus, it was looked at as a negative. Why do you want to go there with all the problems of the city? Why don’t you want to go to a pristine atmosphere where you can study and not worry about all the attendant things that come from urban life in the early ’60s?
Well the world has changed and those changes have been reflected in many places, and Philadelphia is one of them, and now it is a tremendous advantage, in my opinion, to go to college on an urban campus. The urban centers are truly a laboratory for all the challenges that face our democracy. Those challenges are great. Perhaps never in our lifetime have many of those challenges been more acute. Over the last decade Penn has made enormous progress in helping the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania meet those challenges.
We have seen a level of renewed activism, renewed cooperation, and renewed concern about the challenges that exist beyond the walls of ivy. And when we learned that Dr. Rodin was leaving many of us thought, “Oh my gosh, are we going to go back?” You don’t have to spend more than five minutes with Dr. Gutmann to know we’re not going back, we’re going forward at warp speed.
You know I’ve always been described as someone with boundless passion and boundless energy and I find that often to be the case, although I do get tired. And after spending my first substantive meeting with Dr. Gutmann, I was tired, I was tired. My energy and my passion was out-stripped in a few short moments. But it’s wonderful to see that, because if you look at the resources that we as a city, and we as a state, and we as a nation have, to meet the difficult challenges it’s never been more difficult.
How do we address the rising costs of health care at a time when people are living longer and longer lives? How do we deal with the challenges of the new economy which inevitably involves transition, but these are human beings you are transitioning out? How do we meet the challenges that technology and science are putting upon us? And when you look at our resources to meet those challenges, great universities—and I am proud to say this is among the very greatest—are our strongest assets. But only if they are led by leaders who have vision, compassion and who care about making these universities even more drivers of economic progress, of social progress, and of progress that will restore civility, decency, and quality of life for all of us as Americans. And for this challenge—this challenge that will culminate I think in many intense and focused ways on the morning of November 3rd—we couldn’t have a better leader for the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Gutmann, congratulations to you and congratulations to all of us for the great things that this University has accomplished over the last decade, will continue, grow, and will be more of a driving force in helping us meet those challenges.
Paul Williams, President, Penn Alumni
Good morning and greetings to all!
Dr. Gutmann—President Gutmann—it is an honor for me to welcome you on behalf of the Penn Alumni here today, as well as over 250,000 Penn alumni worldwide, who are here in spirit.
This morning Penn alumni enthusiastically join with the entire University community to express their love of Penn and their shared aspirations for its future.
All Penn alumni take enormous pride in the University’s recent accomplishments and the momentum and energy that abound everywhere on campus. And with great expectations we join you (President Gutmann) to begin a new chapter in Penn’s history.
Celebrating your inauguration provides a unique moment for all to reflect on our heritage and the profound contribution Penn has made to our lives and to the society at large. Today, we reaffirm our most deeply held values and goals, and then we look boldly to the future.
Penn is a great University, in no small measure because of the support of innumerable alumni across the globe and those who teach and work here.
We appreciate your recognition of the strategic role loyal Penn alumni may play in the task of bringing Penn to the next levels of achievement. We are excited by the prospect of working together with you to enhance the sense of alumni community and increase the breadth of involvement and support. We seek to advance the credo of life-long learning and connection with Penn as our intellectual home. We are inspired by your commitment to foster mutual respect and civility and celebrate diversity in every domain of the University.
While the ambitions and goals we express are perennial, the force of time and circumstance demands a new articulation—a new vision to guide us going forward. President Gutmann, thank you for accepting that mission. Thank you for embracing that pragmatic, inventive spirit that is so uniquely Penn. May your leadership in the coming years prove most fruitful, and for this most important endeavor, it is my privilege to pledge the support of Penn Alumni—all 250,000 of us—and growing. Proudly, we cheer you on!
Frank H.T. Rhodes, President, American Philosophical Society
On behalf of the nation’s learned societies, I am pleased to offer congratulations to Amy Gutmann on her inauguration as the University of Pennsylvania’s eighth president, and to commend the University of Pennsylvania on its choice.
Amy Gutmann is the ideal leader for Penn in the 21st century. She is a distinguished scholar known the world over for her work in the fields of political philosophy, ethics, and human values. She has been widely recognized for her research, teaching, and writing on ethnic and cultural pluralism, and I am pleased to note, as the representative of the learned societies at these festivities, that Amy Gutmann is one of us. She is a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education. She is also a W.E.B. Du Bois Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and president of the American Society of Political and Legal Philosophy. I take her active involvement in these scholarly groups as a very good omen for the future of the learned societies and for the future of Penn.
For more than 250 years, the nation’s learned societies and the nation’s universities have been partners in the search for knowledge and in its dissemination. That is especially true for the University of Pennsylvania and for the American Philosophical Society, which I have the privilege to serve as president. Penn and APS both emerged from the fertile mind of Philadelphia’s “first citizen,” Benjamin Franklin, the tercentenary of whose birth Philadelphia will be celebrating in 2006. Both embodied Franklin’s practical, non-sectarian philosophy and his belief that education should contribute to “the common stock of knowledge” as well as to the cultivation of the “finer arts.” And both benefited from his leadership and direct involvement over many years. In fact, early in its history, the American Philosophical Society provided space to the University of Pennsylvania in Philosophical Hall; today there continues to be mutual dependence between the learned societies and the major universities of the world.
Here at the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin sowed the seeds for what has become the basis for a liberal education all across America. He envisioned a college that would teach “ornamental knowledge” and practical skills; that would prepare students not just for the clergy, but also for productive personal and professional lives across a wide spectrum of fields. And in both the learned society and the University, Franklin helped foster an international outlook. He himself had lived abroad at several stages of his life. He was a member of the Royal Society of London and many literary and scholarly societies on the continent. Several of the early members of the APS were foreigners, including Lafayette, Von Steuben, and Kosciusko. And that spirit of international inclusiveness infused his University, too.
It is wonderful to see at Penn a true commitment to preparing faculty and students for a world of growing global interdependence. And to note that the commitment to nurturing a global perspective is poised to increase dramatically under Amy Gutmann’s leadership. Her vision for Penn, as reflected in this afternoon’s symposia, speaks both to the core values of democratic societies and to the diversity of ways in which they are expressed around the world.
To quote Ben Franklin: “Either write things worthy of reading or do things worth the writing.” I predict that we can look forward to great accomplishments in both those spheres from Amy Gutmann. On behalf of the learned societies, I am privileged to convey congratulations to her and to the University of Pennsylvania and to wish them both good success.
Neil L. Rudenstine, Chair of the Board, ARTstor and President Emeritus, Harvard University
It is a great pleasure and honor to be here with you, to offer greetings and congratulations on behalf of higher education in this country and abroad.
More personally, I am happy to be able to speak at a university founded during the age of the Enlightenment, when Scottish Anglicans, English Quakers, and American Deists gathered together harmoniously to create this institution, which began as a fragile charity school, transformed itself into a burgeoning college, and then dashed ahead outflanking everyone else—to become, in exactly 39 years, the first seat of higher learning in America to be called a University.
Because of your Enlightenment founders, you chose to cultivate the liberal arts, the advancement of science, and—most originally—the beginning of serious study in the major professions (nearly a century before others followed your lead).
These ambitious commitments involved, from the very start, an unequivocal dedication to free inquiry, free expression, and the free publication of a multiplicity of ideas and opinions. Much as you respected religious conviction, you also made a bold proclamation of non-sectarianism, and stated that you did not intend to become—like so many other colleges—a training ground for the ministry.
In charting this course, you may actually have succeeded more extravagantly than you expected. Before long, there were four times as many publishers and printers in Philadelphia, freely circulating disconcerting ideas, as there were ministers. And your commitment to the arts and sciences swelled the ranks and quickened the exponential expansion in the number of learned institutions that made Philadelphia the most intellectually conversable city in America: institutions that ranged from the Athenaeum and the American Philosophical Society, to the Academy of Natural Sciences, and an already stunning symphony orchestra that consisted, astonishingly, of 120 musicians who apparently all played simultaneously as well as melodiously.
Because the two universities where I have spent most of the last half-century were established by unappeasable Puritans, who were inclined to cast a cold eye on virtually all the fine arts, and certainly on any potentially wayward philosophical musings; and because every time Princeton chose a Jonathan Edwards as President, Harvard would call in a cheerless Cotton Mather; and since the prevailing gloom that shrouded both of these colleges made conventional run-of-the-mill Calvinists seem positively effusive, if not hopelessly frivolous; you can perhaps understand what a revelation it is for me to stand in the very center of an institution that did not require a century or two of protracted excruciation in order to emerge into the bright daylight that Benjamin Franklin and his colleagues obviously took so easily for granted as part of their natural birthright.
In short, the University of Pennsylvania was able to create—very swiftly—a new conception of higher education on this continent: one that was more daring in its intellectual openness and its reach, with an extensive and adventurous curriculum that was as modern as it was classical; and an approach to education that was concerned to encourage the practical application of knowledge for the public good, as well as to pursue the discovery of significant new knowledge, irrespective of any obvious utility that it might have. Finally, you were more directly engaged with the creative, cultural, and enterprising life of your city than any other American college or university—something that enabled both town and gown together to be distinctively and beneficently urbane, rather than simply urban.
For all that you have accomplished, the rest of us are here, not only to bring greetings, but also to say how much we are in your debt.
The most recent of all your clairvoyant deeds has been, of course, the selection of your new president. You have chosen not only wisely and well, but brilliantly. It would be hard for anyone to match the extraordinary record of Judith Rodin—but, fortunately, there is no need for competition in such matters.
In President Amy Gutmann, however, you have found someone who combines penetrating analytic ability, decisiveness with firmness, and a capacity for strong and clear-sighted leadership.
You have also chosen a person who motivates and energizes others, bringing them together in a common enterprise, and doing so with vivacity, resilience, great human warmth, and deeply humane values.
Ethel Merman was once asked what she thought of another performer, and promptly replied: “She’s OK, if you like talent.” Merman, of course, was not merely talented—she was a show-stopper. Congratulations for having selected, as your next president, someone who will be a leader for all of higher education, and who is also—unambiguously—a show-stopper.
Shirley M. Tilghman, President, Princeton University
It is truly an honor for me to extend to Amy Gutmann the greetings of her fellow college and university presidents as she formally takes the helm of the University of Pennsylvania. We are delighted that this venerable institution, whose founder, Benjamin Franklin, is synonymous with intellectual curiosity, has had the wisdom to entrust its presidency to a scholar, teacher, and leader of Amy Gutmann’s stature.
Of course, this occasion is also a true test of my character. For after all, we gather to celebrate Penn’s gain at Princeton’s expense, a circumstance that we Tigers try hard to avoid on every other occasion, and most particularly at the Palestra. To all of us who had the great good fortune to work with her over the past 28 years, Amy Gutmann will always be a true daughter of Princeton, even though her colors are now red and blue.
Amy Gutmann’s qualities of mind and heart—her sense of fairness and commitment to excellence—are ideally suited to the challenges that Penn, and indeed all universities and colleges, will face in the coming years. Let me highlight just two of these. The future vitality of this country depends upon the doors of our institutions of learning being held wide open for every qualified student, irrespective of their ethnic background or their family’s economic circumstances. This country faces a paradox in education: we have arguably the finest system of higher education in the world, but we are hampered by a K-12 system that is failing far too many students, particularly in poor inner-city neighborhoods and rural areas. Attending an institution like the University of Pennsylvania is one of the few ways in which a student from a disadvantaged background can achieve social mobility in our democracy—but we know from experience that such opportunities will not be available unless educational leaders are committed to the principles of equal opportunity. Amy Gutmann’s deep understanding of this central issue of our time grows out of her lifelong scholarship on identity and the value of multicultural education.
Universities must also be champions for the free exchange of ideas and independent inquiry in a democracy. That principle lies at the very heart of what we mean when we speak of academic freedom. At a time when our nation struggles to strike the right balance between preserving the civil rights of the individual and the collective right of the population to be secure, our colleges and universities need to be places where those difficult debates, and others like them, can be conducted in a climate of civility and mutual respect. We must teach a new generation of students how to take part in civil discourse dispassionately and with due respect for the facts and the convictions of others. As a brilliant political theorist and moral philosopher, Amy Gutmann has written compellingly on the subjects of freedom of association, human rights, and the value of deliberative democracy. As a powerful teacher, she has led a generation of students to becoming informed and effective citizens.
If Penn is blessed in its choice of president, Amy Gutmann is equally fortunate to be joining a university that has long embodied educational principles that she has studied and articulated, principles that have helped to define the character of higher education in America since pre-revolutionary times. She can draw inspiration from Penn’s motto: Leges sine moribus vanae—“laws without morals are useless”—and from the vision of Penn’s extraordinary founder. In his Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania, published in 1749, Benjamin Franklin argued that students should be brought to see that “true Merit” consists of “an Inclination join’d with an Ability to serve Mankind, one’s country, Friends and Family.” Penn’s commitment to service, to the ethical pursuit of knowledge, and to an inclusive definition of education, both in terms of subjects offered and persons taught, will ensure that Amy Gutmann and the community that welcomes her today will form a strong and fruitful partnership for many years to come. Penn is a great university, and Amy Gutmann will give new substance and expression to this greatness. If ever a marriage were made in heaven, I like to think that this is it.
SIDEBAR | INAUGURAL ADDRESS
From Excellence to Eminence
In her inaugural address, the president proposes a “Penn Compact” to express “our boldest aspirations for higher education” and “make the greatest possible difference in our University, our city, our country, and our world.”
By Amy Gutmann | Thank you, Chairman Riepe. Trustees, faculty, students, staff, and alumni, Governor Rendell, honored guests from other universities; friends all:
Not long after the Penn trustees announced that I would be the new president of Penn, a friend of mine at Princeton, where I had worked happily for 28 years, asked me whether I really knew what I was getting into.
Yes, I thought I knew what I was getting into. And I was excited about it. From my own previous visits here, I knew I was coming to a beautiful campus in the heart of a great American city to lead a great Ivy League university.
I knew about Penn’s distinguished faculty, and how much I admired their teaching and scholarship.
I knew about Penn’s staff, dedicated individuals who with competence and compassion keep this university running so well.
I knew about Penn’s extraordinarily talented and energetic students, students who graduate to become local and global leaders, loyal to their alma mater.
And I knew about Penn’s founder, Benjamin Franklin. And I believed that his pragmatic vision for higher education is no less essential today than it was in 1749.
So, with all due respect for my friend, I did know what I was getting into—with one significant exception. I didn’t actually know you personally, the people of Penn, and what you believed about your university.
Over the past four months, that has changed. I have had the pleasure of getting to know you and so many other members of my Penn family. You have informed me, you have advised me, and you have even fed me more than anyone could deserve—or in the matter of food, more than I could ever need.
But most of all you have helped me envision how Penn can better meet our responsibilities to higher education and the world. That is our mandate. I say our because I consider you not only partners but now part of my extended public family. Family in the public and personal sense is important to me.
Without the love of my immediate family, I would not be here today. I am proud of my husband, Michael Doyle, and our wonderful daughter, Abigail Gutmann Doyle. I also proudly bear the name Gutmann. It honors my parents, Beatrice and Kurt Gutmann. They instilled in me a great love of learning, a commitment to defending the dignity of all people, and the confidence to pursue my dreams.
What better way to uphold these ideals than to serve as Penn’s eighth president!
Our University has long advanced the idea that democracy depends on well-informed, public-minded citizens from all walks of life. Benjamin Franklin rightly believed that it was our job to educate students to become that kind of citizen. And educate, Penn does, and does well.
As you know, many Penn alumni have made their mark on history. Yet we have never had a Penn alum as president of the United States—unless you count William Henry Harrison, who studied medicine at Penn for four months in 1791.
Fifty years later, Harrison stood hatless and coatless under snowfall to deliver a presidential inaugural address that ran for two hours.
I don’t intend to follow in his footsteps. Harrison did manage to keep his promise not to seek a second term: He caught pneumonia and died one month later. I suspect he would have done better to complete his Penn education.
One day, I predict, Penn will claim a far wiser president. And I know that we will all be proud of her!
But securing bragging rights for Penn in the Oval Office is far less important than educating great future leaders. It was the idea of connecting higher education to this higher purpose that drove Franklin to help found the University of Pennsylvania.
My predecessors as president were guided by Franklin’s spirit. The late Gaylord Harnwell led Penn to become a major national research university.
Harnwell’s successors were no less outstanding. They energized the campus, forged closer ties between Penn and Philadelphia, and gave Penn’s academic profile international scope.
They are here today. Martin Meyerson, Sheldon Hackney, Claire Fagin, and Judith Rodin: Please rise so we can all show our appreciation for your great service to the University of Pennsylvania. Under your leadership, with the support of our extended Penn family, our University has accomplished so much.
So, how do we build on the progress that Penn has made? How do we rise from excellence to eminence in all our core endeavors?
My own background is in arts and sciences. I believe passionately in the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.
But I also believe that universities have a responsibility to use knowledge to serve humanity. Today I want to emphasize how guided by our broader social responsibility, we can indeed rise from excellence to eminence.
Now this is a daunting task. Not only because Penn has already accomplished so much, but also because the society and world that surround us are so very divided and our disagreements so divisive.
American society is a house not merely divided; it is a house sub-divided along multiple fault lines. Forty-five million Americans, over eight million of them children, lack access to quality health care, and millions have little chance of a quality education.
Too many politicians choose to demonize one another rather than debate the issues.
Our civic life fails to make a virtue of our diversity.
Moreover, our whole world is even more dangerously divided than our society. Ignorance and hatred create murderous schisms that show no sign of narrowing.
The higher-education community must take the higher road. We need to fix our moral compass, fuel our will, and fire our imaginations by what unites rather than divides.
From the moment I first set foot on this campus, I was inspired by a University community that is much more united than our society, and to a greater degree than even some people at Penn recognize.
Now, today, let us put our unity on firmer ground.
I propose a compact—a Penn Compact—that expresses our boldest aspirations for higher education. A compact based on our shared understanding that “Divided we fail. United we flourish.” By honoring this Penn Compact, we will make the greatest possible difference in our university, our city, our country, and our world.
The Penn Compact that I propose encompasses three principles.
The first is increased access.
The excellent education we offer must be more accessible. We must make a Penn education available to all outstanding students of talent and high potential. In a democracy and at great universities, diversity and excellence go together. Keeping them together requires access based on talent, not income or race.
Penn must build on its commitment to need-blind admission and need-based financial aid. You will be as passionate and committed as I am after you meet even a few of our many scholarship students.
One example is George Sworo, a Sudanese refugee who has lived most of his life in a Ugandan refugee camp. George used his earnings from a summer construction job to build drinking wells for two villages in Uganda.
There’s Hania Dawood, a Palestinian student who attended high school in Bahrain. Hania views her Penn education as her passport to fight for the empowerment of women in the Arab world.
There is Matt Feast, a finance major and two-time All-American and All-Academic in wrestling, whose energy and perseverance promise to propel him into leadership.
And then there is Jamie-Lee Josselyn, whom I met just last week. Jamie-Lee is the daughter of an auto mechanic and the first in her family to attend college. Her experience here as a writer has transformed her life.
Imagine how much greater Penn could be if we could offer scholarships to more students like Jamie-Lee, Matt, Hania, and George. Our ongoing commitment to students like these must remain our sacred trust.
We also must make the most of what Penn’s increased diversity affords us. This is not simply a matter of justice for those who deserve to have access. It is also an educational benefit for all of us.
Let us show the world how very much there is to learn from cultural diversity, and how productive respectful disagreements can be. Let us extend the example of Muslim and Jewish students at Penn who pursued dialogue and fellowship after the tragedy of 9/11.
I pledge to do everything in my power both to increase access and educate our students to think independently and act compassionately. And I trust you will join me in this effort.
So that’s what I mean by increasing access.
The second principle of our compact is about knowledge. We must better integrate knowledge from different disciplines and professional perspectives in our research and teaching.
Universities have a natural tendency to relegate each problem to the province of one or another academic discipline or profession. This inclination reflects a long-standing division between the liberal arts and the professions.
But the most challenging problems cannot be addressed by one discipline or profession. We cannot understand the AIDS epidemic, for example, without joining the perspectives of medicine, nursing, and finance with those of biochemistry, psychology, sociology, politics, history, and literature.
Yet as economic pressures mounted over the past three decades, many American universities shifted their attention toward professional education.
The casualty of this growing divide has not been the arts and sciences. They are as important as ever. The loss has been the knowledge that we can gain by better integrating liberal arts and the professions.
Penn has made worthy strides in integrating knowledge. Yet for all of our progress, we, like our peers, still remain too divided into disciplinary enclaves. We must better integrate knowledge in order to comprehend our world.
The time is ripe for Penn to achieve a truly successful partnership between the arts and sciences and the professions. And I know that our faculty will join me in putting this principle into ever more effective practice.
The third principle of the Penn Compact is to engage locally and globally.
No one mistakes Penn for an ivory tower. And no one ever will.
Through our collaborative engagement with communities all over the world, Penn is poised to advance the central values of democracy: life, liberty, opportunity, and mutual respect.
Effective engagement begins right here at home. We cherish our relationships with our neighbors, relationships that have strengthened Penn academically while increasing the vitality of West Philadelphia.
We will build on the success of the Penn Alexander School to strengthen public education in our neighborhoods.
We will embrace inclusion as an employer, as a neighbor, and as a developer of our campus to the east.
Working collaboratively, we will convert the parking lots of the postal lands into research facilities and playing fields. We will create a state-of-the-art cancer clinic and a proton-therapy program in partnership with Children’s Hospital. Our new Center for Advanced Medicine will save countless lives. It will also will provide thousands of jobs and beautify our eastern campus.
We will help drive economic and technological development throughout the city and Commonwealth. And we will build our national and international leadership by sharing the fruits of our integrated knowledge with the rest of our country and world.
We also will collaborate with other university leaders to expand the pipeline of people of color and women in the professions, including the professoriate.
The Penn campus and its environs will increasingly be a mecca for the arts and culture. We will demonstrate how much arts and culture contribute to the eminence of our education, and to the quality of life in our community.
So, this is our compact: to increase access, to integrate knowledge, and to engage locally and globally.
It won’t be easy. There will be challenges. But we will meet them and we will succeed.
By putting our principles into ever better practice, our Penn family will rise from excellence to eminence in teaching and research as we become ever more accessible.
I am asking much from all of you, but no more than I demand of myself. I pledge to you that I will engage in the full life of the University.
I will encourage our students to make the most of their Penn education.
I will support our faculty in pursuing eminence in research, teaching, and clinical practice.
I will lead our staff in creating the ideal climate for teaching and learning.
I will strive to keep our alumni ever more closely connected with the life of our University.
I ask that you join me in uniting behind our Penn Compact. Let us make this new beginning at Penn worthy of our boldest aspirations.
Together we shall rise, as together we serve.
SIDEBAR | SYMPOSIUM
Rising to the Challenges of a Diverse Democracy
Following the inaugural ceremony, on Friday afternoon Penn alumni, faculty, and experts from other institutions participated in five panel discussions examining issues including the communication of knowledge in an unequal world, how investments in science and medicine can improve lives, ways of educating professionals to be engaged citizens, leading and learning from local and global communities, and making the most of cultural differences. Gazette staff and freelancers fanned out across the campus and brought back the following reports.
Creating and Communicating Knowledge in an Unequal World
As part of his current research on how Philadelphians experience diversity in their everyday lives, Elijah Anderson, the Charles and William L. Day Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences, has sat for hours at a time in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, talking to people and overhearing “fascinating tidbits of conversation,” often involving strangers at a restaurant counter meeting and talking.
Located in Center City, Philadelphia’s downtown, Reading Terminal is “a heterogeneous and densely populated public space” that provides a model of what Anderson called “cosmopolitan canopies.” The terminal’s many restaurants, produce stands, and other businesses are operated by members of “seemingly every ethnic group,” and the customers come from equally varied backgrounds, he said, and they all seem to get along within its confines.
Such spaces, which range from Penn’s own campus to the local Starbucks or McDonalds, offer a “profoundly humanizing experience.” There’s an opportunity to “eavesdrop, look people over,” said Anderson. The “growing social sophistication” that results “must be good for democracy.”
Anderson and other speakers balanced this and other positive factors against a number of negatives—among them, the perceived suppression of votes in Florida in the 2000 presidential campaign, the “digital divide” limiting access of the poor and minorities to the Internet, corrosive media cynicism and increasingly divisive politics, and “chokepoints” that impede the free flow of scientific information—as they addressed the question raised at the outset by moderator Andrea Mitchell CW’67, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent and self-described “refugee from the political campaign”: How can the flow of new knowledge and information strengthen democracy, enrich individual lives, and make for a better community?
According to John DiIulio, Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Political Science, there is no better way to fulfill the academic mission to pursue new knowledge than to get “up close and personal” with real people and problems. As one example, he described a project aimed at determining what makes people use available programs—an issue, he noted, that scholars have been “babbling over” for years. In Philadelphia alone, he said, $30 million-$40 million in Earned Income Tax Credit benefits for the working poor were left “on the table” because people failed to file for them. Through public-service announcements, approaching libraries and community groups, and other efforts to spread the word, they got $10 million in people’s hands in the first year, he said. With the Philadelphia Daily News having taken up the cause, he estimated they could hit $20 million this year. But the primary motivation, he emphasized, was “knowledge-development.”
Former Annenberg School for Communication Dean Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who still heads the Annenberg Public Policy Center, addressed the media’s role. “We know that when the media focus on strategy and tactics,” in covering politics, then “people don’t know the content” and get more cynical about the political process, she said.
As one counterweight, Jamieson offered Annenberg’s Student Voices project, which currently involves 10,000 high-school students in 12 cities. Students can “see politics at the local level” by having candidates for mayor and governor come to the schools to answer the kids’ questions—and inviting the media in to watch. In most cases, these are schools without working bathrooms, let alone up-to-date textbooks, said Jamieson; visiting gives politicians and the press a fresh insight into the conditions the students face every day.
Reporters also discover—often to their surprise—that the students are sharp questioners, an experience that “dispatches some cynicism” and generates a different type of press coverage from the standard depiction of public-school students as either “victims or perpetrators.” In turn, this can make it more likely that students will read or watch the news, that they will vote when they are eligible to do so—and someday run for office themselves, Jamieson said.
Fernando Pereira, the Andrew and Debra Rachleff Professor and chair of the department of computer and information science, focused on the way that the Internet has transformed “completely the way science is done today.” He told of turning up information related to his own research—which he never would have known otherwise—through a Google search, and offered the example of an Indian scientist who had solved a major math problem and, outside the normal channels of publishing, posted his results online. Within two days the discovery had circulated around the globe and had been verified worldwide, he said.
In contrast, Pereira attacked the “extortionate subscription cost” of journals, and showed figures estimating that the cost of publishing an article can go up to $10,000. Asserting that the “potential has been barely realized to have research shared all over the world” through the Internet, he urged universities to “take the lead in making knowledge available.”
Anderson acknowledged the importance of the “digital divide” but considered other factors to be more harmful to minority concerns. “Think about 2000, Florida, the suppression of the vote,” he said. Such incidents “encourage cynicism and undermine any notion of hope and possibility in the black community.”
On the question of whether new voting technologies will hinder or help potential voter fraud, Pereira said it was less an issue of old vs. new technologies than closed vs. open systems. “If a program is not open it can be manipulated or just gotten wrong. The democratic process should be open,” he said, “and that goes for code as much as anything else.”
This fall on Penn’s campus, many students were engaged in the political campaign, participating in various voter registration efforts and other activities, and talking about the election—with much more substance and civility than exhibited by the candidates, according to Jamieson, who called the 2004 campaign “the dirtiest, least factual in history.”
While there have always been some fierce partisans, the broad assumption once was that either nominee in a presidential election was fit to run the country. Now, Jamieson said, voters “can’t think both are good. One must be evil.” This attitude, manifest in the 2000 and 2004 campaigns, creates a situation in which “half the country thinks that the person elected is not going to be good for the country,” said Jamieson, and is “driving toward thinking that the person means to do the country harm.” —J.P.
Improving Lives by Investing in Science and Medicine
Somewhere in rural Mali, a field researcher with a low-speed Internet connection can tap into the same database used by David Roos at Penn to search for solutions to the malaria epidemic. “For better and for worse, we live in an increasingly integrated world,” said Roos, a professor of biology and director of the Penn Genomics Institute, whose own work in malarial chemotherapy thrives on such partnerships. “Computational approaches in biomedical research have made us truly one global community. We can carry out actively collaborative research with colleagues in Nigeria, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil and India in a way we never could have done when we were required to be physically passing a test tube from one person to the next.”
Mary Naylor, the Marion S. Ware Professor in Gerontology and associate director of the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at the School of Nursing, opened the discussion with a sobering assessment of global health, citing millions of uninsured children, an epidemic of obesity, and diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS that are “devouring communities.”
According to Naylor, “We face in our society and across the globe major threats to health that have the potential, if left unabated, to undermine all the tremendous progress in science and technology that we’ve achieved in recent decades.” As the SARS epidemic made clear, “no one is immune” to health-care crises. “We are all part of a borderless global village.
“The good news is I think we are uniquely positioned at Penn to play a leading catalytic role in addressing the major threats to health and well being,” Naylor said. “I think we can even do more to transform societies by focusing on the root causes of disease, with poverty and education very high on that list.”
Chemistry Professor Michael Klein made a pitch for investing in basic science even when there seem to be no immediate benefits to be gained. The competition for corporate profits places extra stress on the “university-national laboratory establishment” to support basic research, he said.
University researchers have become increasingly reliant on private funders, said Arthur Caplan, professor of medical ethics and director of the Center for Bioethics. Institutions tend to take a schizophrenic approach to these relationships—encouraging the influx of much-needed research dollars while warning faculty not to compromise their ethics. “I think we need to have better mission mandates [at our universities] to make sure we know what goals we’re striving toward,” he said, “so we don’t just go for the money.”
Caplan cited a study by the center that showed that even small gifts by pharmaceutical companies, like food and pens, influenced behavior—and added that the funder, Pfizer, had tried to get the center to withhold the report. “We want to engage with industry and change industry behavior,” Caplan said. “On the other hand, they are going to try to shape us. We’re just a little piece of a big problem that universities face, in trying to engage with and interact with the private sector.”
Barbara Weber, professor of medicine and genetics and director of the breast cancer program at the Abramson Cancer Center, discussed her research showing that deaths from breast and ovarian cancers could be dramatically reduced if high-risk women “know who they are and if they undergo certain screening procedures and simple surgical procedures,” such as ovary removal after they’ve finished having children.
But testing is “wildly underutilized,” partly because of the expense but also because of fear and misinformation, Weber said. She told of two women who, despite knowing that their families carried genetic mutations that put them at a high risk for developing cancer, were afraid to undergo individual genetic testing. In the past 12 months, they developed ovarian cancer and died, leaving behind young children. “Both of these cancers could have been prevented if we had been able to convince them that genetic testing was useful.”
The debate over stem-cell research has also been rife with misinformation, said Weber, noting that opponents link it with abortions when, in fact, the major source of stem cells would be embryos from in vitro fertilization labs. She criticized the “politicization” of this “very valuable research” and a Senate bill that would criminalize it, arguing that universities should help set the record straight and be “leading policy issues in that regard.”
If the United States doesn’t push ahead on stem-cell research, “there are plenty of countries that will, and they might not regulate it as well as we will,” warned Ralph Brinster, the Richard King Mellon Professor of Reproductive Physiology and Animal Biology in the School of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s just a dynamic time in biology, and we’re not going to stop it.”
Making the argument that science policy should be made by citizens, Roos added that, unfortunately, science education in this country is inadequate. Even many highly educated people don’t feel an obligation to be informed, he added. “I can’t talk to my colleagues in comparative literature and say, ‘Oh … books,’ but most of my colleagues, for whom I have tremendous respect, have no clue about what I do,” Roos said. “I think how to develop a rigorous understanding in the sciences is one of the real challenges for the 21st century in education.”
Speaking from the audience, Nursing School Dean Afaf Meleis returned to the theme of engagement: “I think we have a global obligation and we have a moral obligation,” she said, “not to lead the world but work with the world to advance science.”
Weber called it “an incredibly tricky balance” to provide help without imposing one’s own values. “The one thing I keep coming back to, whether it’s in genetic testing, whether it’s dealing with families in West Philadelphia, or dealing with families around the world is that the importance of really understanding and appreciating someone else’s culture cannot be overemphasized,” she said. “It is, I think, a critical point to not go into situations with assumptions based on our own cultural beliefs and knowledge.” —S.F.
Educating Professionals as Engaged Citizens
Does professional education erode the idealism of students coming into the professions? Statistics show it might, according to Dennis Thompson, the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of Political Philosophy at Harvard University, founding director of the Center for Ethics and the Professions, and co-author with President Gutmann of two books on “deliberative democracy.”
Some 45 percent of students entering Harvard Law School, for example, say they are attracted to public interest law. When they leave, only 10 percent go into public-interest practice, said Thompson, who cited similar findings among students in medical and business school—suggesting that schools somehow “signal” that the public good is a marginal pursuit.
“Now I don’t think it should be the full-time activity of every professional,” Thompson cautioned, “but I do think that professional education should demonstrate—signal—that this is really important.” He recommended a “comprehensive education” that includes ethics courses, public service, and other requirements demonstrating that “we as professionals and professional educators owe time, effort, and attention to serving the public good.”
Laurie Olin, the Practice Professor of Landscape Architecture in Penn’s School of Design, confirmed that design students enter professional education with a similar idealism: they believe they can make the world better through their practice. “We think they’re wonderful,” said Olin, “but the problem is we feel we need to give them a little bit of skepticism.” Students come from widely different backgrounds, and upon graduation, they enter professional practice in a variety of cultural, political, and environmental contexts. “We try to give [students] the tools to operate within a situation that [they] can’t control or guarantee or predict,” he said. “We are actually trying to do what we used to talk about when we talked about education, and that is giving people tools to teach themselves.”
Professionals are connected to society in their practice through a social contract that specifies the actions and standards expected by the citizens of that society, said Sarah Kagan, the Doris R. Schwartz Term Associate Professor in Gerontological Nursing at Penn [“Sarah Kagan’s ‘Genius Idea,’” March/April]. “Professional education, therefore, should make explicit to students how they are bound as engaged citizens to uphold the contract.”
In many professions, she noted, the social contract is rendered “invisible” by an emphasis on outcomes and productivity. In the health care industry, economic priorities can drive institutions far from people’s expectation of care and compassion in their relationship with “my nurse” and “my doctor,” never circling back to the social contract as a guide for analysis, education, and practice.
“To build and extend personal understanding and a sense of accountability for the social contract, we must underwrite the teaching of technologies and systems and science with an analysis of social consequences,” Kagan said. “I believe we must shape education that respects human behavior and social context while imagining the possibilities of combining science and service in new ways.”
Headlines detailing giant corporate scandals in recent years provide clear evidence of the importance of business ethics, said Thomas Donaldson, the Mark O. Winkelman Professor at the Wharton School and director of the school’s Ph.D. program in ethics and law. The teaching of ethics in business schools has been evolving over 30 years, and today is a required part of the curriculum—though only about a third of business schools take it seriously, Donaldson said. (At Wharton, every MBA candidate must take a series of ethics courses, and 85 percent of Wharton undergraduates take at least one.)
Sometimes the courses “autopsy” big corporate scandals and pull out the predictable elements that business leaders must learn to anticipate and manage. Students are also encouraged to reflect on the function of the corporation in modern society, beyond profit-seeking. “It’s about some other stakeholders,” Donaldson said. “It’s about the community; it’s about employees, about customers.”
Panel moderator Sarah Gordon, a professor of law and history, observed that lawyers dominate our political and legal life, and that American society is deeply committed to the rule of law and the achievement of justice through law. When lawyers do their job well, she remarked, the system works in ways we often take for granted.
Lawyers are skilled at “organizing and sorting and explaining a confusing reality in ways that all the players can understand,” providing a “synthesis” of issues that helps people talk across divides rather than at cross purposes—vital to a democracy, which brings diverse people together to govern themselves. Gordon strongly recommended interdisciplinary and interprofessional training to add the “ability to talk across scholarly and professional fields” as well, calling it “key to legal practice in a fast-paced and unpredictable world.”
Speaking from the audience, Arthur Rubenstein, dean of Penn’s School of Medicine, called attention to a series of skewed priorities that work against the ideals discussed—including high debt accumulated by medical school graduates, the public’s demand for expensive medical treatments, and a political system driven by money and power. “The incentives,” he said, “are so back to front that to get everyone to do what’s right in the system is very challenging. ”
Thompson agreed that there is a crisis in medicine and in other fields, and that part of professional education ought to include the training of spokespersons who can advance change by changing structures and incentives. “Part of medical and professional education,” he said, “ought to prepare future leaders in the professions who will engage not just in the professions but with the political system.”
Donaldson argued that to change society’s misaligned incentives, the mindset of people first needs to be changed, and the best place to do that is in the educational institutions that form the professionals. —Peter Nichols
Leading and Learning from Local and Global Communities
“On September 11, 2001, our nation learned that we must become much more aware of our world,” said Judith Buchanan, an associate professor in the dental school’s Department of Community Oral Health. “While we represent only four percent of the world’s population, our influence is enormous, in both economic and military terms.” Sharing advancements toward world health issues is a major component of Penn’s and America’s responsibility to the global community, she said.
Schools like Penn face difficulty in effecting social change, said Dennis Culhane, professor of social-welfare policy and psychology in the School of Social Work. “Given the focus of our conversation here today on the role of educational institutions,” Culhane called it “ironic” that educational disparities—which continue some 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education ended legal segregation—are among the most serious social problems undermining democratic values.
“I don’t think we can hope to effectively address these problems and the inequalities that underlie them by working in a single academic or policy domain,” he said. “We are going to have to search for the broader and the deeper social remedies just as we learn how broad and deep are these problems.”
Michael Useem, the William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management and director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management at the Wharton School, highlighted Penn’s mission to educate students to be world leaders. “My own view is that leadership can be developed in everybody,” he said. “Some seem to have a great head start, but I’m pretty certain it’s not genetic.”
Margaret Beale Spencer, who holds the Board of Overseers Professorship of Human Development and Education in the Graduate School of Education, discussed Penn’s work with the surrounding West Philadelphia community. Such involvement isn’t effective unless “[we’re] also acknowledging and questioning our own practiced identities and positions of privilege,” she added. “To really engage with others it’s important that we’re always reflecting on who we are.”
Spencer said the Graduate School of Education tries to follow W.E.B. DuBois’ notion of “engaged scholarship,” which means seeking to understand the points of view of the constituencies that Penn’s work represents.
When an audience member asked the panel to turn the focus away from the local West Philadelphia community and toward Penn’s involvement in international affairs, Buchanan observed that “local is merging into global.”
Culhane reminded the audience of the deeply interconnected nature of many social welfare problems—and their solutions. In order to address educational disparities in our city, he said, we must also understand local property taxes, regional political structures, historic patterns of residential segregation, and the local labor market—the last of which cannot be evaluated outside of a global context.
“So, in essence, the problem of failing schools in West Philly is linked to the global economy,” he said.
The panelists agreed that the United States stands to gain as much, if not more, as it has to teach in collaborations with other nations.
“We have more to learn from many of the other democracies in the world than we have to give—in terms of how to handle the social welfare system, for example,” Culhane said, citing the fact that the United States has the highest poverty rate of the advanced industrialized world.
An undergraduate student in the audience commented that the University should work harder to ensure that students interact in a personal way with Penn’s surrounding community. He said that the time he felt most connected with the community was when he shared his favorite fish recipe with a stranger in a neighborhood market.
Referring to President Gutmann’s inaugural speech, moderator Jon Huntsman W’59 Hon’96 recalled that she “suggested that diversity at Penn is a virtue, and that whatever unites us is far better than whatever could divide us.
“The world is never going to change from what we learn in a class. We can talk about reaching out locally, globally, but at the end of the day, it’s those fish recipes—or a thought or hug or a pat on the back—that bring home exactly what this University teaches best.” —Katie Haegele
Making the Most of Our Cultural Differences
“How can an education best help individuals cope with the challenges of cultural differences? What is the role of universities in furthering democratic values and building a more cohesive and cosmopolitan world amidst multiplying differences?” These were among the opening questions from Henry Louis Gates, professor of African and African-American studies at Harvard University and chair of a symposium panel dedicated to exploring the complexity, necessity, virtues, and pitfalls of embracing cultural difference as a reality and a resource.
Barbara Savage, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, was concerned with particulars: How do we treat the person who cleans and maintains the building in which we work, study, or live? How do we interact with the person from whom we buy our lunch?
As a community we are no better than what these “eyeball-to-eyeball” details reveal, Savage said. Her appeal to everyone, but especially to those in positions of influence—such as hiring and promoting, and training and teaching—was to be “hyper-vigilant” as to how their day-to-day decisions and behaviors affect those around them. They must also be fiercely discerning about the decisions they make to include the rich diversity they wish to promote.
One vehicle to teach and explore diversity of all varieties is literature, which is “richer when we demand that it traffic in difference,” Gates said. “If I learn from a book that I read, it is not primarily because I see my ethnic self reflected in its pages, but also because I see populating it many people different from me.”
Penn English Professor Ania Loomba said she finds it “most effective to teach questions of race relations through my Shakespeare and Renaissance classes because it helps people understand the long and interconnected history of race, as well as making the point that there are no scholarly areas which can be sealed off from the questions of race and culture difference.”
However, “cultural difference” is not a term that Loomba celebrates. “I myself think [it] often becomes a way of avoiding the subject of race,” she said. “Thus, multiculturalism in the U.S. has to be wary of simply celebrating what it sees of another culture and thus sanctioning dominant voices within particular communities.” Instead, Loomba prefers to put the focus on tensions, which reveal the rules and dynamics that define belonging and exclusion among different segments of a nation or community.
Loomba added that a university, in addition to emphasizing the importance of cultural diversity, must also address social injustice. This includes reaching out to “historically disempowered minorities,” as well as teaching the history of colonialism so that different groups can better understand the disparity of different backgrounds. “My students are not allowed to use the word ‘culture’ in my classroom until the end of the semester when we have learned to articulate it,” she said, adding that it is better to talk about class, religion, education, geography, politics, economics, and the like, before speaking of the more abstract, and potentially alienating, notion of culture.
According to Penn Law Professor Howard F. Chang, universities must play a critical role in embracing and educating about cultural diversity because of the very nature of the society in which they are a part. The best way to do this, he said, is to assure that the population represented in a university is an accurate reflection of the society at large. In this way, students and scholars are exposed to difference, they can learn from each other, and they will find their own options broadened through being around people of different backgrounds.
K. Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy at Princeton University, emphasized the role of cultural difference in a university’s research mission—best served, he said, when the researchers are from diverse backgrounds, be it class, gender, religion, or culture. Working together, such researchers can offer a control against framing questions that are too limited, while also expanding the possible kinds of questions that are asked.
“If our interest is in finding out the truth and deepening our understanding of what it is to be human, then one thing we need access to is the range of being a human being that society has produced,” Appiah said. “One very good way to do this is when a university can have among its scholars and students not only people who study the full range of human cultures but also scholars who represent the best of the various intellectual traditions that various cultures have produced.” —Beebe Bahrami