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Penn’s Making History campaign has exceeded expectations, raising $4.3 billion and “catapulting” the University “from excellence to eminence.” After a pause to celebrate the more than 300,000 supporters who made that success possible, University leaders are determined to keep Penn’s momentum growing.

BY JOHN PRENDERGAST | Illustration by Jonathan Bartlett

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“It’s a wow for us, yes,” says Penn President Amy Gutmann, summing up the results of the University’s Making History campaign, which concluded on December 31, 2012.

It seems like a fair assessment.

Start with the total amount: $4,302,890,707. That’s far and away the most money ever raised at the University, and among the largest capital campaigns ever in higher education. It’s also about $800 million more than the announced goal of $3.5 billion—which was reached well over a year before the campaign’s formal end.

(In fact, while the numbers that get cited in fundraising campaigns are amounts that people have pledged to contribute, it’s evidence of how far Making History has exceeded expectations that the University has already received $3.6 billion in cash.)

Oh, and this outpouring of generosity took place during a period roughly coinciding with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“I have to say it feels amazing, given what we’ve accomplished, which is beyond our highest aspirations,” Gutmann adds. “It feels a little like a dream that’s come true on many levels.”

Only the total amount raised and selected top-line figures were available before this issue of the Gazette went to press. (By now, all the details can be found at the Campaign Final Report website, But here are some of the highlights:

• More than $652 million was raised for financial aid for undergraduate, graduate, and professional-school students, including $366.3 million for undergraduate aid. These contributions have assured that Penn can “follow through on our all-grant/no-loan financial aid policy, so our students can graduate [debt-free], as never before was possible,” says Gutmann, referring to the program—which went into full effect in 2009—that replaced student loans with grants for all families eligible for financial aid.

• The University’s ability to recruit and retain the best faculty has been enhanced by the establishment of 161 new endowed chairs, thanks in large part to $573.4 million raised for faculty support. That includes funding for 22 Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) professorships, a pioneering effort in interdisciplinary teaching and research in which faculty hold appointments in two separate Penn schools. (Sixteen positions for coaches, curators, and directors have also been endowed.)

• With a total of $752.7 million raised for buildings and renovations, the campaign has “beautified [Penn’s campus] as never before,” says Gutmann—funding major renovations and new construction projects for teaching, research, and patient care; creating 24 acres of new green space and athletic facilities at Penn Park; and achieving a striking redevelopment of the area around the Palestra and Franklin Field with Shoemaker Green and Weiss Pavilion.

• Some $2 billion was raised for programs and research—a very broad category that encompasses everything from research and development efforts and other programming throughout the University’s schools and centers to student activities and support services provided by the Office of University Life.

• The total added to the University’s endowment was $1.9 billion—an amount that topped the campaign’s “hugely ambitious” $1.75 billion goal, and that puts Penn on a much stronger footing “in perpetuity,” Gutmann adds. “A great university doesn’t live only for the present. It really invests in the future. [This] means that Penn is not only strong today, but you can project Penn’s strength indefinitely into the future.”

• Finally, the campaign was highly effective in implementing a series of non-financial goals aimed at strengthening alumni participation and engagement. (The fact that these were explicitly included among Making History’s priorities has been touted as a first for a capital campaign.)


“The numbers there are staggering,” says Gutmann. “Our alumni are more engaged than ever before.” One indication: 117,148 of them contributed to the campaign, accounting for 62 percent of the amount raised. (The most inclusive count of donors, including parents, friends, foundations, and corporations, as well as alumni, was 326,952.)

Even without the “fabulous” $225 million unrestricted gift announced in Spring 2011 from Ruth and Raymond Perelman for the Perelman School of Medicine—the largest in Penn’s history—the campaign still would have exceeded its goal with months to go, Gutmann adds. “So that’s really the message and the lesson—the broad base of support makes all the difference in the success of Penn and our campaign.”

With Enthusiasm

To hear others tell it, Penn’s president had quite a bit to do with that success as well.

When Amy Gutmann, previously Princeton’s provost, took office as Penn’s eighth president in 2004, it was widely assumed that the University would be embarking on its first comprehensive capital campaign since 1994 (which raised $1.47 billion, a record at the time).

Gutmann’s predecessor in College Hall, Judith Rodin CW’66 Hon’04, had called her strategic plan the “Agenda for Excellence.” Gutmann launched her presidency with the announcement of the “Penn Compact,” a guide to advance the University “from excellence to eminence,” built around the goals of increasing access, integrating knowledge by fostering interdisciplinary teaching and research, and engaging locally and globally. Those principles, in turn, helped shape many of the priorities identified in Making History, which got its public launch in October 2007.

David L. Cohen L’81, chair of the trustees, says that Gutmann’s “extraordinary leadership” has been essential to the success of the campaign and to Penn’s progress throughout her presidency. “She has articulated an ambitious vision for the University. And she has an almost unique way of communicating that vision and of generating excitement for it.”

George Weiss W’65, the longtime trustee who chaired the Making History campaign and was also among its most generous donors, describes Gutmann as “the best college president in the land.”

For her part, Gutmann returns the compliments, praising Cohen and former Trustee Chair James Riepe W’65 WG’67 Hon’10 for their commitment and support. She calls Weiss “the heart and soul of the campaign,” recalling the moment when he handed her an envelope—addressed To Amy and sporting a smiley face—that contained a $14 million check for financial aid. (Among Weiss’s other contributions to the campaign was a $20 million gift to endow four PIK professorships.)

Gutmann also singles out as key alumni volunteer leaders the campaign’s co-chairs—Andrea Mitchell CW’67, Rosemary Mazanet Gr’81 M’86, Robert M. Levy WG’74, and “the late, alas, Henry Jordan [M’62 GM’67] and Chris Browne [C’69]”—and the members of the Major Gifts Committee. And she calls Penn Alumni President Lee Spelman Doty W’76 “ubiquitous” for her frequent presence on campus and at alumni gatherings elsewhere. “Lee gives of her time like nobody I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of George Weiss and David Cohen.”

Penn’s 12 deans and six center directors first led the development of priorities for their institutions, and then the fundraising efforts to achieve them, Gutmann notes, and their success has “been at the heart of the campaign” as well, she says. “The deans have been phenomenal partners,” from those—like Engineering Dean Eduardo Glandt GCh’75 Gr’77 and Michael Fitts, dean of the Law School—who “signed on for extended tours of duty,” to relative newcomers like Penn Medicine’s J. Larry Jameson and Dental School Dean Denis Kinane, who have “come on board and hit the ground running and been so dedicated to moving our priorities forward.”

Besides praising Gutmann and Weiss—“an amazing individual philanthropist for the University, [and] an amazing leader of this campaign”—Cohen expresses special gratitude toward Riepe, who chaired the trustees from 1999 to 2009, and John Zeller, vice president for development and alumni relations. “I get to be chair at the end, but Jim led the effort in designing the campaign and in launching it, and was the leader of the trustees for a majority of the time of the campaign,” he says. As for Zeller, “We knew we hired the right head of development when we hired John, but there’s nothing like seeing him in action during the course of the campaign.”

But when it comes to listing those responsible, “you almost don’t want to stop,” says Cohen. “You cannot have a campaign as successful as this was without an army of leaders and supporters. You have the mega-gifts, which attract headlines. But there are so many first-time million-dollar donors. There are so many first-time donors. There was so much outreach and so much engagement.”

“It really takes a whole university to make a campaign that’s as comprehensive as ours,” Gutmann says. “The amount of passion, as well as generosity, and the delight that all of those people had in being part of this—that’s what made it move forward. I like to quote Emerson: ‘Nothing great is ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ And the enthusiasm of our strongest supporters is unrivaled.”

True Test

That unflagging enthusiasm met its greatest challenge when the bottom fell out of the stock market in the fall of 2008, about a year after the launch of the campaign’s public phase. Gutmann calls the Great Recession “the true test of both our momentum and the dedication, loyalty, and pride of Penn alumni and friends.” Despite the downturn, “we continued apace,” she says. “And all the credit goes to our alumni, parents, and friends who believed in our mission.”

Weiss points out that “people’s net worth dropped precipitously, roughly about 40 percent in that [2008-2009] market decline.” That certainly had an impact on donors’ willingness—and ability—to give, “but what really came through is [that] people love Penn,” he says. “They love the great job that Amy’s done.” Both current students and alumni share this spirit, he adds. “They speak, you know, with great love for the University. So when you sit down with somebody [about supporting Penn] and find out where their passions are, it has actually been a lot easier task than one would think.”

Cohen notes that the campaign’s goal of $3.5 billion—far more than the University had ever tried to raise—was seen as a stretch by many, even without the economic turmoil since 2008. “So you start with a very ambitious goal. Then this enormous recession hits, and we still end up at the end of the day with this record-breaking performance. It helps to underscore the remarkable nature of everyone’s performance in connection with the campaign.”

All About Access

Gutmann speaks often of the importance of financial aid in making her own education and subsequent career possible—and of extending the opportunity of a Penn education to students who may assume that it is academically or financially out of their reach.

“Amy is all about access and diversity,” says Weiss. These days, when student debts are often so heavy, the fact that “kids are coming out of Penn loan-free” thanks to the all-grant policy has “a huge impact”—even if it did put more stress on him. “I keep referring to myself as Sisyphus,” he says (joking that he is maybe the only “Wharton guy” who can spell it). “Every time, you know, she comes up with one of those proposals, to endow it really raised the bar.” In fact, though, Weiss calls this initiative “tremendous,” and one that harks back to Benjamin Franklin himself, “when he set up Penn for the people.”

And scholarship aid resonates powerfully with donors, Weiss adds. “It’s a win-win because the student feels so grateful to the donor [and] the donor feels equally happy, because they’re providing that opportunity to get a great Penn education. So literally, as somebody once said, it’s the sweetest gift that you can give.”

“I’m incredibly proud of how the campaign was able to exceed our goal [of $350 million] in an important area like undergraduate financial aid,” Cohen says, which he adds was one of the highest priorities from the trustees’ perspective. That fact “speaks volumes, I think, about the commitment of the entire Penn community to making sure that the spectacular advantages of a Penn education are available to all.”

Making Penn more accessible and affordable through increased financial-aid resources makes the University even more dynamic, says Gutmann. “It’s more of an engine of opportunity for the very best, most talented, hard-working students than before.”

One out of seven students in Penn’s current freshman class is the first in his or her family to attend college, she notes. Since 2006, the percentage of students receiving aid has increased from 37 percent to 46.5 percent. “We’re seeing more and more both low- and middle-income students [understanding] that they can afford to come to Penn and being attracted to Penn” because of the all-grant program, Gutmann says. “So it’s both changed the composition of Penn to be able to attract more students who otherwise wouldn’t think Penn is affordable—and it’s made Penn more affordable to everybody.”

While financial aid for graduate and professional students tends to generate fewer warm feelings on the part of donors, it’s no less essential to Penn or the individual students who benefit from it. The $285.8 million contributed for graduate and professional aid in the campaign is more money than ever before in the University’s history. “All of our graduate and professional schools had that as a priority, and it made a huge difference in our success,” says Gutmann. “We’ve really increased graduate aid and professional aid by a lot over the course of the campaign.”

And having added resources from donors dedicated to financial aid has “allowed us to strengthen every part of Penn,” says Gutmann. At the start of her presidency, only 10 percent of financial-aid funding came from endowment income rather than the University’s operating budget. Now, about 22 percent comes from endowment—this despite the fact that in actual dollar terms the annual financial-aid funding has more than doubled. “So that, of course, allows us to free up resources for all the other things that make Penn a great university.”

PIKs and More

Of the 22 Penn Integrates Knowledge professorships funded through the campaign, 14 have been named as of this writing, representing fields from filmmaking to genetics.

The PIK concept was inspired by Penn’s “distinctive strength as an interdisciplinary, collaborative university with 12 schools on one compact urban campus,” says Gutmann. That combination of physical setting and philosophical openness is something that is “really hard for our peer institutions to replicate and compete with us” on, she adds. “What we did by creating PIK professors is attract the greatest scholars from around this country, who really thrive by collaborating with faculty here across schools and actually having a joint appointment between two schools.”

Weiss highlights the PIK professors as exemplary of the collaborative spirit at Penn. “I don’t know of any other [university] that’s been able to accomplish what Amy has been able to do. She’s got these schools working together,” he says, and quotes one of the PIK professors that the resulting cross-fertilization provides a kind of “stimulation [that] just doesn’t occur in other universities” and has been “the most fascinating academic experience of his career.”

But the PIK professors are far from the only representatives on the faculty of Penn’s collaborative strength or groundbreaking teaching and scholarship. “We have multiples of those PIK professors across all of our schools who now have joint appointments between departments and schools,” Gutmann says. “The PIK professors highlight the strength of Penn, and they are very distinctive. But they’re collaborating with and part of a larger faculty that is distinctively interdisciplinary and also problem-driven.”

Gutmann—who holds the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professorship in Political Science, one of five professorships in the School of Arts and Sciences endowed in 2008 through a $15 million gift from the late campaign co-chair—also notes that the PIK professors make up a relatively small percentage of the 161 positions newly endowed through the campaign. “Those professorships, plus the PIK professorships, have established Penn as the university to be at if you want to conduct collaborative, interdisciplinary research and teaching.”

Look in Any Direction

From the middle of College Green, Gutmann says, “no matter what direction you look in, there’s an important facility” that has been built or renovated, is under way, or in the planning stages, thanks to the Making History campaign.

South of Spruce Street, for example, there has been an explosion of construction related to medical research and patient care. In the area where the old Civic Center once fell into decline, now stand the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, and the Smilow Translational Research Center. “These are facilities and programs that have transformed Penn Medicine and will continue to bear fruits for decades to come after the campaign,” says David Cohen.

“The lives we save and the quality of our patient care” at Penn’s clinical practices and hospitals “is something we measure day in and day out,” says Gutmann. The new medical and research facilities “are making a huge difference, both in giving hope to families, and through discoveries that are making a difference in the lives of people today.”

At the School of Nursing, phased renovations to Claire M. Fagin Hall, named for the professor and dean emerita who also served as Penn’s interim president in 1993-94, are updating classroom and laboratory spaces to accommodate advances in the nursing curriculum and making the building more useful and welcoming to students, faculty, and alumni visitors.

On 34th Street between Spruce and Walnut, the Music Building, once an eyesore, has been “beautifully restored and renovated.” Repointing and cleaning made the “gorgeous brickwork” visible again; that, combined with a well-received addition behind the original structure, made it something that passersby “smile [at] rather than ignore.”

Another important renovation project is the soon-to-be-completed Special Collections Center in Van Pelt Library, occupying parts of the fifth and sixth floors, which will be the new home of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library and other collections. In one dramatic feature, the library renovation will create a top-floor outdoor terrace with “views of [College Green] and Center City that are really to die for,” Gutmann says.

Further up Locust Walk, work to restore and modernize the old Christian Association building—now the Arts, Research, and Culture House (ARCH)—is under way, and next door on 36th Street is the home of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, completed in 2009. Golkin Hall, which opened in 2012 on Sansom Street between 34th and 36th, strengthened the Law School’s facilities for classrooms, offices, and lectures and other events.

Other new projects are still under construction—like the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, set to open its doors this year—or in the planning stages—like the Neurobehavioral Science building, for which the necessary funding has been secured. And while no gift announcement can yet be made, “we’re moving full steam ahead with the College House on Hill Square” included among the campaign’s goals, Gutmann says.

But the most striking physical transformation lies at the eastern edge of campus. That’s where the green space and state-of-the-art athletic fields of Penn Park have replaced the weedy, cracked asphalt expanse of the former “postal lands,” and Weiss Pavilion and Shoemaker Green have remade the area around those historic Penn athletics icons, Franklin Field and the Palestra.

Besides the benefits to Penn students, faculty, and staff, Penn Park also relates powerfully to the engagement goals of the Penn Compact, says Cohen. “Penn Park and the investment that that represented for the east end of the Penn campus provides green space and recreational space for the Penn community, but it also represents a huge investment in the [larger] community in providing this amazing green link between the University and Center City Philadelphia.”

“The whole vision of Penn Park is transformational. It’s like heaven out there,” Weiss says, calling it a “great signature of the work that Dr. Gutmann has done for dear old Pennsylvania.”

Weiss admits that initially he was lukewarm about Weiss Pavilion, the training facility ingeniously tucked under the North Arches of Franklin Field, but says he is now “delighted with it,” if only because it puts his name next to emeritus trustee and former trustee chair Al Shoemaker W’60 Hon’95—for whom Shoemaker Green, which replaced the old tennis courts in front of the Palestra, is named. “[Al] is a dear friend and dedicated to Penn in so many different ways. Having us juxtaposed forever, overlooking Franklin Field, really gives me great personal pleasure,” Weiss says. “And I kid him that my football players are going to throw beer cans on his lawn.”

Home Away from Home

The campaign’s non-financial goals came out of a recognition that “for the health of the institution going forward, it’s not just what dollars you bring in in a given year,” says Penn Alumni President Lee Doty. “It’s creating that connection so that alums really feel that Penn is their home away from home for the rest of their lives. It’s their intellectual home. It’s their social home. It’s something that they really feel tied to forever.”

Since the start of the campaign, the level of alumni engagement “has soared,” she says, rising by some 66 percent since 2007. “That can be measured in lots of different ways, but basically in terms of touch-points with our alums.”

First, attendance at Homecoming and Alumni Weekend “has gone way up,” she says. “In part it’s because I like to think that we’ve made it a lot more compelling for alumni to come back.” At Homecoming, for example, the traditional attraction of the football game—still an important one, Doty is quick to note—has been augmented with an arts & culture theme, including gallery tours, panel discussions, and performance events.

“I think we’ve done a lot over the last several years to recognize that Penn alums are not homogeneous, just the way Penn students aren’t homogeneous,” she says. “There are lots of different constituencies, lots of different areas of focus. And we’ve tried to create programs that appeal to as many people as possible.”

Doty calls “Engaging Minds,” which sends PIK professors and other topflight scholars to share their work with alumni audiences, “the signature event” in these efforts. What she values most, she adds, are the exchanges between the professors and the alumni in the audience, who are often leaders in the relevant fields as well. “To see that interaction has been great.”

A push to engage younger alumni, called yPenn, has paid off in increased attendance at the five-year reunions, Doty says, which have been setting records. “I think last year we had close to a thousand people come. We’d never had anywhere near that kind of attendance.” And keeping the alumni connection strong from the beginning tends to make continuing involvement more likely.

Another initiative Doty highlights is Penn Spectrum, targeted to minority, LGBT, and other diverse groups, which was first offered in October 2010 and will return this fall. “In many cases there are alums who had been out of school for decades who had never been back on campus until they responded to the outreach for Penn Spectrum,” she says.

Attendance at events isn’t the only measure of outreach. These days, Penn is just a click away, so visits to the University’s website; Penn-related activity on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks; and alumni subscriptions to email newsletters like Penn News Today and Red & Blue Online are additional measures of engagement (not to mention the Gazette’s reach in our print, web, and iPad platforms).

Alumni education efforts, like webinars where professors offer “office hours” to discuss their research and answer questions, and participation in Penn Alumni Travel are other potential “touch-points” Doty cites. The latter program, which used to be “sort of a random collection of trips,” has been revamped to be “much more connected with Penn professors” providing relevant expertise along the way.

“We have 300,000 alums, so there are lots of ways that we can get out and reach them,” says Doty. “There’s always more we can do, but I feel really good about what we’ve done so far.”

Celebrate!—then Move Forward

On April 19, Penn will celebrate the conclusion of the campaign here on campus with a party at Penn Park and other events, and that will be followed by gatherings to mark the success of Making History in cities across the country and internationally.

But nobody’s slowing down.

“We will celebrate, largely to thank the people who have made all of these meaningful differences possible,” says Gutmann. “But that will be a fraction of the time that will be spent over the next year in moving Penn forward. The whole point of this campaign is to continue Penn’s momentum, making a difference in scholarship, teaching, and clinical practice, which are the three things that are the engine of opportunity and advancement in our world.”

“We can’t afford to rest on our laurels,” Cohen agrees. “We still have to continue to fundraise, and make sure that we continue to engage the thousands and thousands of alumni who have either become engaged with Penn for the first time or reengaged with Penn.”

The end of the campaign provides a moment to “pause and take stock and to set certain objectives for the next five years or the next 10 years,” he says. “While that may not involve a new capital campaign denominated like the Making History campaign was, it does enable us to identify a new set of priorities, both to fundraise against and to attempt to move the University’s objectives in a positive direction.”

In George Weiss’s view, Penn’s has achieved the goal of moving the University “from excellence to eminence,” in Gutmann’s formulation. “You can almost use the word catapult because this campaign has catapulted us into a new stratosphere,” he says. “To maintain that and get even better, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Both men express satisfaction that the next phase of that work, like the last one, will be accomplished under the leadership of Amy Gutmann, who last spring agreed to extend her contract as Penn’s president through 2019.

“To give us a total of 15 years with Amy, that was absolutely huge, and that generated a lot of excitement,” says Weiss.

“There is no better evidence of the work that there is to do—and the commitment that Amy has to do that work—than her decision to sign on so early and to commit herself” for an additional five years in College Hall, Cohen says.

Before she could accept the trustees’ “generous invitation to continue as president,” Gutmann says she had to determine whether she could develop a “set of goals with my team—I have a fabulous team—that would enable me to be as busy, as well as excited about the future, as I’ve been about my time—my nine years now—as president” and that would be as “challenging and inspiring as the original ones that the whole team and the Penn community adopted under the Penn Compact.”

As she did at the start of her presidency, Gutmann began this process “by talking to people who were an important part of enabling the Penn Compact to move forward, trying out my ideas on them and saying, ‘Is this something that you think, A, would make a big difference to Penn; and, B, you would want to be part of the team that drives it forward?’”

Ultimately, she put together a list of 10 strategic priorities—a mix of what she calls “evergreen goals” and new initiatives—for the University’s next phase.

Among the “evergreens” is the need to “continue to build financial aid,” she says. While Penn’s position has improved enormously in this area, “we’re still relatively underendowed compared to the peers we compete with on financial aid.” Similarly, fundraising for faculty support will continue to be emphasized—more PIK professorships, more endowed and term professorships (designed to last for a limited time)—as will maintaining Penn’s leadership in key fields of scholarship and research.

Among the new goals is to “do more to improve our undergraduate housing at Penn,” says Gutmann. The new College House slated for Hill Field is just the beginning. “We’re going to have to continue to improve all of our undergraduate college housing.”

Penn will also seek to accelerate and expand initiatives to bring “discoveries to the world with translational research, making Philadelphia more and more of a place where entrepreneurs gravitate.” Key to this effort will be Penn South Bank, the 23-acre property in Grays Ferry that the University purchased in 2010 and hopes to transform into “a tech transfer center for our campus and the city,” Gutmann says.

Still other new priorities have to do with expanding Penn’s global presence, in China, for example, and exploring the rapidly developing world of online education through the University’s involvement with Coursera. (For more on that, see this article.)

As the Making History campaign becomes, well, history, Gutmann describes herself as “at least as excited about the future as I am about the past.”

“Nobody gave to Penn to make us sit back on our haunches and be satisfied. We are not a complacent university, and we’re not going to declare victory and retire,” she says. “We’re going to declare victory and show how much of a difference this makes, not just for the University, but for our community and the world. And that means more work. There’s a lot more work ahead.”

The purpose of the Penn Compact was to create a framework to “take Penn from excellence to eminence,” Gutmann says. “And now we’re on the road from eminence to preeminence.”

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