The University’s top leaders promise that Penn’s $3.5 billion fundraising campaign will make history—by changing the face of Penn’s campus and extending its local and global impact, strengthening financial aid and faculty support, and pointing a new multidisciplinary direction in higher education. With $1.6 billion already committed, donors seem to be listening.
By John Prendergast | Photograph by Candace diCarlo
Sidebar | One More Top Priority
“This is Penn’s moment,” declares President Amy Gutmann, in the (relative) calm-before-the-storm leading up to the public launch of Making History: The Campaign for Penn on October 20. “We have the right goals, and we have an enterprising, collaborative culture” to achieve them, she says. Put that together with the advantages of a contiguous campus that is “second to none,” the University’s continuing and growing popularity with the most gifted students, and its ability to attract the best and brightest faculty “as long as we have the resources to do it,” and Penn “has the momentum to become one of the greatest urban teaching and research universities in the world.”
With a target of $3.5 billion by the end of 2012, Making History is easily the most ambitious fundraising program in Penn’s history. (In part, this is an indication of how steeply the financial stakes in higher education have risen since the conclusion of Penn’s last “comprehensive” campaign in 1994. Netting a then-staggering $1.47 billion, it was only the second to break the billion-dollar mark. By contrast, no fewer than 31 schools are in the midst of $1 billion or more campaigns right now.) Penn’s campaign goals are pretty far-reaching, as well—to “push the frontiers of teaching, research, and service, and to redefine what people everywhere can expect from higher education,” in the words of a publication for potential donors.
The campaign is organized around major investments in three broad areas:
Campus improvements: Making History will help jumpstart the campus development plan, Penn Connects [“New Campus Dawning,” Sept|Oct 2006], complementing recently announced projects financed with outside developers [“Gazetteer,” this issue]. Some $924 million will go to converting portions of the former postal lands to green space and playing fields, as well as to developing new athletic and fitness facilities around Franklin Field; constructing new teaching and research facilities in the critical areas of nanotechnology, neural and behavioral science, and the translation of medical research into clinical practice; and to build a new College House on Hill Field.
Financial aid: To ease the pressure on Penn’s operating budget, which currently funds the bulk of financial aid awarded, and to strengthen the University’s ability to attract the best students regardless of family income, plans call for raising $350 million for undergraduate student aid. Another $323 million is earmarked to provide funding for graduate and professional students, in order to aid in recruitment, relieve their loan burdens on graduation, and allow them to plan their careers based on professional satisfaction rather than salary.
Faculty support: Endowed professorships are considered a critical incentive in the recruitment and retention of faculty “superstars and rising stars.” The campaign goal is to raise $623 million for endowed professorships and other programmatic and institutional support for faculty, as well as to increase the size of Penn’s faculty overall. A big emphasis will be placed on people and programs with the potential to advance teaching and research across multiple disciplines.
To complete the total, Penn also seeks to raise $909 million for programs and research needs, and another $371 million in unrestricted funds. Half of the overall goal—$1.75 billion—is slated to go for building the University’s endowment, with the rest divided between the $924 million in capital projects and another $826 million for current uses. In addition, each school and center has its own unit goals and fundraising targets, from the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts’ $9.8 million for “a creative venture fund for theater, music, and dance; facility renovations, and annual giving” to Penn Medicine’s $1 billion to support “new clinical, research, and educational facilities; research; endowed professorships; student financial aid; patient and student programs; and annual giving.”
(More details on school and center plans can be found in Proudly Penn, which was mailed with this issue of the Gazette. This is also the first fundraising campaign launched at the University since the Internet became a ubiquitous presence in our lives, and there will be extensive resources available online between now and 2012. Interested alumni can start at www.makinghistory.upenn.edu.)
Making History echoes and extends President Gutmann’s Penn Compact, announced in her inaugural speech in October 2004 [“From Excellence to Eminence,” Nov|Dec 2004], which called for increased access to a Penn education, interdisciplinary research and teaching, and engagement both locally and globally. It also resonates strongly with the educational philosophy and principles of founder Benjamin Franklin—updated and enhanced for the new century, Gutmann says.
“Franklin founded a university dedicated not to sectarian ideology but to the idea that the pursuit of knowledge would redound to the benefit of society, and particularly the pursuit of knowledge with an eye towards applying it to practical purposes,” she explains. “We’ve built on that another distinctive strength, which I call integrating knowledge. Wherever the base of a particular piece of understanding resides—in business, or law, or education, or arts and sciences—at Penn we can integrate knowledge across those disciplinary boundaries.”
And by doing so, she continues, the University will be uniquely positioned to address the most difficult and challenging problems of our time. “That, I think, is the 21st-century version of Franklin’s vision—bringing knowledge together across boundaries and putting it into very important social practice for the betterment of humankind. It’s a very lofty goal, and it’s an achievable one” for Penn.
“There’s another part of Franklin’s vision that is equally critical,” she adds. “We are a university where the best and the brightest faculty and students come together across all social divides to learn and apply their knowledge. That underscores the importance of access at Penn, and it also underscores how we’re a university that creates a culture of talent, of dynamic, enterprising academic understanding and contribution to the world beyond.
“I think that’s got to be the model for eminence” in the future, Gutmann says. “We’ve got to become ever more meritocratic and diverse as a university—diverse in the backgrounds of the people who come here—in order to become ever more eminent in the knowledge creation that we’re capable of.”
In addition to the current record-holder (Stanford University, with a $4.3 billion goal) Cornell and Columbia Universities have $4 billion campaigns under way, and it’s a good bet that a campaign of $5 billion or more will be a reality before Making History concludes in five years. But simple size isn’t the point of Penn’s fundraising agenda, say University leaders. Rather, the focus has been on identifying key priorities, on the resources needed to move the University to the next level—from “excellence to eminence,” in Gutmann’s phrasing.
“The great thing about this process is that we, unlike many other places, really have a focused set of goals, and when I say we, I include not only the central administration, not only the deans and the center directors, but the trustees and boards of overseers of all of our schools and centers,” says Gutmann. She describes the $3.5 billion campaign goal as “the sum of the goal for financial aid for our undergraduates, graduate, and professional students; for faculty support, for endowed professorships and programmatic and institute support; and the facilities that are needed to make this campus not only beautiful but the most attractive campus for our faculty and students, who are the heart and soul of what makes us eminent.”
While those goals may seem somewhat obvious in general terms, getting there involved more than two years of planning, recalls James Riepe W’65 WG’67, chair of Penn’s board of trustees. The exercise included, on the one hand, a “very vigorous bottom-up process” in which Penn’s schools and centers identified their highest priorities and the capital needed to fund them, he says, and, on the other, a top-down “reality check” composed of a consensus on which of those goals fit best with the overarching needs of the University and the feasibility of raising the required support.
Planning was well under way by the time Penn Provost Ron Daniels joined the University. As Penn’s chief academic officer, his role has been to “work closely with the deans, and with the president, and with [Development and Alumni Relations Vice President] John Zeller, in trying to ensure that the capital-campaign priorities that have been identified reflect the community’s highest academic priorities,” Daniels says. “And at times, I think, it’s been very challenging for the schools to really stand back and ask what is most important for them—where is the margin of excellence? I am confident that, at the end of this process, all the constituencies have done a good job in identifying initiatives of the highest priority.”
The campaign goals were also vetted in a series of meetings Riepe and Gutmann held with alumni donors in several cities in the U.S. as well as London. The purpose of the sessions, which enlisted the advice of alumni of a wide age-range, was two-fold, says Riepe: “To test our audiences with what we thought were the priorities for Penn, and to find out how they felt about Penn right now. We came out of that with good information but also with incredible enthusiasm for what was going on at Penn now and for our vision of Penn’s future.”
The extended gestation period for the campaign’s goals turned out to be a blessing. “Because it’s a bottom-up and iterative process, the priorities are already thought through,” says Riepe. “What we found out in these meetings was that when we articulated these priorities and the rationale for them, they were very well understood and very well supported.”
While the most welcome gift any University can receive is an unrestricted one, “because it gives the administration and the trustees the chance to spend it on whatever they think the University needs at that point,” that’s increasingly not the way philanthropy works, notes Riepe, citing a number of recent press accounts concerning changing donor expectations. “Our feeling was, the better we can articulate the priorities and make a case for them and get people enthusiastic about them, the better opportunity we had to attract funds for those priorities, and I think that is consistent with the way philanthropy is being executed today.”
An indication of how well-received the priorities have been is the fact that nearly 125,000 contributions to the campaign have already been received, totaling some $1.6 billion, during the so-called “quiet phase” of the campaign—a euphemism except in contrast to the festivities surrounding the public launch on October 20 (see following stories).
Of course, it’s common practice for schools to solicit the aid of their most ardent supporters early on in order to get off to a fast start. Reaching the final goal will require attracting people for whom giving, or giving more, to Penn may be a harder sell—and attracting lots of them.
To those who may wonder at the magnitude of the goal, Riepe points first to the competition. “By almost any other standard, we’re a prosperous school, but we happen to live in a very rich neighborhood,” he says, and those peers not already engaged in a multi-billion-dollar campaign are contemplating one. Then there is the size of the University itself. While $3.5 billion is “an enormous number,” that is the scale required to “move the needle” for an institution with a total annual budget in excess of $4 billion and more than 20,000 students.
As for the importance of the widest possible participation, Riepe adds that, with the very notable exception of the Annenberg family, whose accumulated contributions total well into the hundreds of millions, historically Penn has been short of “gigantic” donors, so “our strength is our numbers,” he says. “We really count on all of the people who are making these contributions, because they are being put together with thousands of others just like them—and all of a sudden it’s many, many millions of dollars.”
Penn has always managed to “do more with less,” Gutmann says. “We are a very efficient and effective university in the use of our resources, and donors like that. So, if you can do more with less—as we do—imagine what we can do with more.”
While Penn has “found a way of competing at the very top with a relatively smaller per capita endowment, it is not easy to do that—and it’s virtually impossible [going forward] unless we are successful in raising more money,” Gutmann adds. Faculty support, facilities, and financial aid are all “resource-intensive areas, and Penn needs more in all of them.
“The true measure of our ability to raise money is the worthiness of what we’re raising it for, and the worthiness of our goals for Penn—the value-added, if you will, of a contribution to Penn,” says Gutmann. Adequately communicating that “value-added” requires “being specific about the University’s highest-level goals and what the impacts of contributions to them will be.”
Reasons for Giving
Funds raised in the campaign will play a crucial role in the eastern expansion of campus. “Penn is one of only a few great urban research universities that can expect to increase campus green space and recreational and athletic space over the next decade,” Gutmann says. “Why is that important? Well, we are an educational institution in the broadest sense. We are a living and learning community—and living at Penn is part of the learning experience. It’s very important that we provide our students the kind of athletic and recreational space that allows them to grow in their talents physically and intellectually.”
Also, while residential projects done in association with private developers are adding significant numbers of additional beds close to campus, “there is enormous demand for a new College House,” Gutmann says.
“The new College House is going to create a second quadrangle right at the academic core of our campus for 350 students to live and learn, and many more students and faculty to congregate and exchange ideas and, frankly, socialize,” she adds. “We are not just a place that students come to go to class but a place that students come to really get a sense of how they can live a full life in a vibrant intellectual community—and that’s what the new College House will enable us to do better.”
And the academic buildings singled out as campaign priorities all target areas in which “Penn can have a major impact, but only with new facilities.”
Penn’s nanoscience faculty is rated No. 1 by the major magazine in the field, “but we’re nowhere on the map” when it comes to facilities, Gutmann says. Similarly, the proposed neural- and behavioral-science building will provide an integrated space for Penn’s leadership in the life sciences. “Brain-to-mind-to-behavior is the key connection for the life sciences to make moving forward, and we have a stellar faculty in neuroscience,” Gutmann says. Penn’s biological basis of behavior (BBB) major is a leading program of its kind, not to mention one of the most popular undergraduate majors, she notes. “But we do not have the facilities to bring those faculty and students together on our campus to teach and to do the cutting-edge research that will catapult us ahead in neuroscience and the behavioral sciences.”
Finally, Penn Medicine ranks second nationally in NIH research funding, but the University hasn’t kept up in facilities construction. In fact, Gutmann says, “we’ve fallen sorely behind.” Besides providing a state-of-the-art facility for advancing “translational” research to move new discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside, the planned medical research building will also be co-sited with the new Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine and Roberts Proton Therapy Center, scheduled to open in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
Since becoming president, Gutmann has given strengthening and expanding Penn’s financial aid offerings increased prominence. Such assistance, she says, is “critical to our being able to fulfill Franklin’s vision of a university in which the best and the brightest can come regardless of their family background [or] socioeconomic status.”
But that commitment comes at a cost. Penn needs to build its endowment over time to provide the resources necessary for need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid, says Gutmann. “Until we do, we’re going to be taking a lot of money for financial aid out of our operating budget at the expense of other high-priority needs.”
As financial aid has been emphasized as one of the University’s highest priorities during Gutmann’s administration, “we’ve raised enough money to underwrite new programs,” such as providing only grants rather than loans to students from families earning less than $60,000, she points out [“Gazetteer,” May|June]. “As we raise more money across the span of the campaign, we’re going to be able to do more for financial aid—at the same time as we make the quality of education we provide even greater.”
At the graduate level, the University must have “the kind of financial aid that eases the burden on our graduate and professional students as well, who often graduate with huge loan burdens,” Gutmann adds. Since graduate and professional students are typically no longer dependent on their families, most of them need aid.
“Financial aid for these students is critical in two ways: One is to compete for the very best, and two is to make it possible, when a professional student graduates, for that student to take the most meaningful job, rather than the most lucrative job,” she says. “Sometimes they’re the same, but they’re often not.”
First and foremost, funds targeted to faculty support will go to establish more endowed professorships. One signature program, the Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professorships, in which faculty hold appointments in multiple schools of the University, has already had an impact. “We have recruited five of the most spectacular faculty members in the world to Penn, and those faculty members are already joining with their eminent colleagues on the faculty here and energizing the campus even more,” she says.
“Just as we’re raising money for the [PIK] professorships, so we’re raising money for endowed professorships across all of our schools,” Gutmann adds. “The most eminent faculty want to have a named professorship. And we have hundreds of eminent faculty members at Penn, and if we’re going to retain those faculty against the competition, and if we’re going to recruit more of those faculty, we need endowed professorships.”
More endowed professorships also aid in increasing the overall number of faculty, Gutmann says, improving the University’s faculty-student ratio, “which is very important to us.” The Law School looks to benefit especially from adding new faculty. “Our law school is eminent but too small for its ability to really contribute to the highest-priority areas in law,” Gutmann says. “It’s done a great job with a small faculty, but it definitely needs to expand. And contributions to endowed professorships enable it to do that.”
Increased funding for programmatic resources, she adds, will help fund faculty who are creating interdisciplinary programs in neuroscience and other high-priority areas.
Cutting across all goals of the campaign is a dedication to bringing Penn’s human and intellectual capital to bear on the world’s problems. “What distinguishes Penn is impact, and our impact is local as well as global,” says Gutmann.
The campaign will bring Philadelphians more jobs through expanded healthcare facilities—not to mention world-class health care for the region’s residents—as well as more faculty to work with civic leaders and more students to serve schools and neighborhood organizations, she adds.
But while the University’s impact starts in West Philadelphia, it doesn’t end there. Penn has the “capacity, with our interdisciplinary, inter-school strength, to address many of the most challenging problems in the world today,” Gutmann says. “Whether it be AIDS in Africa, or obesity in America, or ethnic conflict around the world, we have Penn faculty who are collaborating on research to address those problems and engaging our students in them.”
Considering all that, “I think it should be irresistible for anyone to give to Penn,” says Gutmann. “Ben Franklin said an investment in knowledge pays the greatest dividends, and we are demonstrating that to be the case.”
Shaping the Future
So, it’s 2012. Another party, this one celebrating the successful conclusion of Making History, is itself history. What difference will that $3.5 billion (or, with luck, maybe even a little more) make? Will it be, in the current jargon, “transformational”?
The word is often used too loosely, says Riepe, but he believes that this will be more than “just another capital campaign.”
“The issue for Penn is that we’ve had this tremendous leap forward in the last couple of decades, and in particular the last decade,” he says, “and the challenge for the trustees and all our supporters is, can we continue that momentum to really solidify the strong position we now occupy?”
Programs like the PIK professorships and establishing more endowed chairs and increasing endowment for financial aid should attract even better students and faculty. “Clearly what we’re doing on the east end of the campus is physically transformational,” he adds. “But I think this campaign has the potential to be transformational for the entire University, and I definitely think it has the ability to sustain this wonderful momentum that we have going forward.”
His meetings with alumni provided a number of useful insights, Riepe says, but one he was especially struck by was the “bifurcated” nature of the alumni constituency. While those who knew the school and campus of 35 or 40 years ago may still be processing all the changes that have occurred, that’s not so for more recent grads, whose attitude is “‘OK, we know Penn’s great. It’s got this great urban campus. What are you going to do [now]?’” he says. “With respect to the campaign, we have to figure out how to appeal to both of those” groups.
An aspect of the campus that is often not sufficiently recognized is the competitive advantage conferred by having all of Penn’s schools represented on a compact urban site, within easy walking distance—and convenient collaboration—of each other, he notes. “One of our priorities in this campaign is to get ourselves in a position to develop more and more programs that take advantage of the physical proximity of our schools.”
Gutmann gives her answer in the context of talking about the choice of “Making History” as the theme of the campaign. “We wanted a theme that suggested the dynamic, forward-looking quality of Penn, as Franklin’s university, at the same time as it recognized our historic roots,” she says. “We’re going to shape the future, and in shaping the future we’re going to be part of a great historical legacy that is Penn. And we’re going to be very proud of what Penn becomes because of this campaign.
“And I daresay there are parts of what we’ll become as a university that are unimaginable today,” she continues. “We can imagine what we need to do on financial aid, and faculty support, and facilities, to make Penn greater, but none of us, I believe, can imagine how much of a difference this is going to make—how beautiful and dynamic and vibrant the campus and community is going to become because of this campaign.
“So there’s the unimaginable part as well as the imaginable. And that makes it all the more exciting. And I think when you’re making history, that’s what it’s about. It’s about what you can imagine, and it’s also about the unimaginable—that will take us forward even beyond what we’re now envisioning.”
One More Top Priority
While other universities have targeted things like new facilities, financial aid, and faculty support as priorities for fundraising, Penn may be unique in making a series of nonfinancial goals aimed at alumni engagement an explicit part of Making History: The Campaign for Penn.
Along with pursuing the University’s financial goal of $3.5 billion by 2012, “we are simultaneously investing more in involving our alumni in a variety of regional, class-based, and affinity-group-based programming,” President Gutmann says. “Our alumni are an extraordinary worldwide group of leaders in virtually every professional sector of society, and they’re increasingly involved and loyal to Penn. We want to [build that connection] all the more over the course of the campaign.”
The goals include:
- Strengthening campus and regional activities that engage alumni, students, parents, and friends, and providing increased access to Penn’s vast academic resources.
- Building on the success of alumni class and affinity group programming, creating new ways for alumni to connect with each other.
- Expanding career-networking opportunities for alumni and students.
- Growing the number of alumni who support Penn’s commitment to educational excellence through their annual gifts.
- Increasing the number of individuals who create lasting legacies at Penn through their planned gifts and Harrison Society participation.
- Deepening student awareness and involvement in the full range of development and alumni-relations activities.
Penn Alumni President Paul Williams W’67, who is also a University trustee, calls the nonfinancial and engagement goals for alumni “a very important innovation” as Penn moves into the public phase of its campaign. “The largest donors may drive the level of ultimate results, but achieving the specific priorities of the campaign, including the nonfinancial and engagement goals, and expanding the breadth of alumni involvement will be key to how we measure success going forward in the future,” he says. “What we seek to do is to communicate to every single student and every single alum the sense of Penn’s mission, and we hope that they will recognize and appreciate that mission—and maybe even feel, as Walter Annenberg said [when asked why he chose to give], ‘It’s my duty.’”
Franklin, Fireworks, and a Big Tent
Ben Franklin was there, naturally, to exhort his intellectual heirs to take this opportunity to “do good in a grand manner.” Pennsylvania Governor and former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell C’65 Hon’00 stopped by, too, to extol the University’s continuing contributions to the region—including, notably, the planned reclamation of the cracked and crumbling asphalt parking lot atop which the venue for the night’s event had been constructed.
About 1,500 of the University’s friends and supporters, faculty, students, and staff gathered on October 20 under an enormous tent erected on the one-time postal lands and soon-to-be green space and playing fields at the University’s eastern edge to toast the public kickoff of Penn’s $3.5 billion, five-year Making History campaign.
Before concluding with a spectacular fireworks display, which guests viewed through the transparent roof covering part of the structure, the event—underwritten by members of Penn’s board of trustees—included remarks by James Riepe W’65 WG’67, who chairs the board, and Making History Campaign Chair George Weiss W’65; performances by student groups (Penn Masala, Penn Jazz, Pan-Asian Dance Troupe, the Inspiration, and the University Glee Club); and the premiere of a video featuring a variety of students and faculty that played on screens hung around the central stage and along the walls.
As the last images of the video faded out, Penn President Amy Gutmann appeared on stage to announce the official goal (until then a sort-of-well-kept secret) and—“a resounding vote of confidence in the University’s future”—the fact that $1.6 billion, or 46 percent of the total, had already been raised.
“Welcome to Penn’s moment,” Gutmann began, to cheers from the crowd, calling it the “most defining” one since Ben Franklin raised £2,000 to found the “revolutionary academy” that has grown into the “dynamic powerhouse” that is Penn today.
“What, in a word, can [this] campaign accomplish?” she said. “Everything—everything that our city, society, and the world most need in a great university.”
Calling on the assembled to join in “making history,” Gutmann noted that the members of today’s Penn community are both the beneficiaries of an experiment that revolutionized higher education in America and the stewards of Penn’s continuing success.
“We love what Penn has done for us; we know what Penn can do for our students and the world,” she said. “Together, we have the power to conceive a new kind of university, one that is more intellectually daring than others, one that is more beautifully vibrant than any other, and one, above all, that is more potentially transformative than all the rest.”
College Green Was the Place to Be
The University’s expansion into the former postal lands may have commanded the most attention during the campaign-kickoff celebration, but if parties are to be judged on numbers and noise, College Green was the place to be. As night fell on Philadelphia, more than 6,000 students, alumni, faculty, and staff converged on a Ben Franklin statue that must have been vibrating amid celebrity DJ Kid Capri’s bass blasts.
“Penn’s star has never been brighter,” proclaimed President Gutmann, before calling for $3.5 billion in additional megawatts. Cheers went up as Gutmann reeled off the campaign’s goals—more financial aid, endowed professorships, graduate-student support, buildings, and green space—after which the crowd settled halfway into a hush to watch a video filled with professors and some star pupils.
That was as close as the evening came to approaching kindergarten quiet time. Senior Class president Puneet Singh W’08 quickly took over as master of ceremonies that featured performances by the Penn Band, a-capella group Counterparts, African Rhythms, and the South Asian dance fusion of Dhamaka.
Meanwhile partygoers lined up for an array of ethnic cuisine running the gamut from Thai noodle salad to soul food, and thronged the tented bar counters until their three-beer allowances ran out and the search for extra-friendly bartenders began. (Penn’s fraternities, evidently, had not been consulted on booze rations.) The hundreds of flushed faces dancing furiously between Ben and the Button, however, left the strong impression that all Penn’s undergrads needed to get a party going was two turntables and a microphone.
Making History on the Road
If you couldn’t make it to campus for the celebrations marking the launch of Penn’s $3.5 billion fundraising campaign, not to worry. Making History may be coming to a city near you.
Starting with Boston on November 12, President Gutmann will be traveling to nine locations by this summer. Besides being personally “invigorating for me,” she says, these visits are “a great opportunity to connect with alumni and build support for Penn and the campaign.”
- Boston, November 12
- Washington, D.C., November 27
- Hong Kong, January 12, 2008
- Los Angeles, February 4, 2008
- San Francisco, February 6, 2008
- Miami, March 10, 2008
- Chicago, April 28, 2008
- New York, May 7, 2008
- London, June 5, 2008
In anticipation of the campaign launch, last year Gutmann and trustee chair James Riepe W’65 WG’67 moderated several briefing sessions for alumni donors in various locations. “I came away with a sense of the excitement that our alumni body has for Penn, but also of how important it is for us to increasingly engage our alumni across the globe,” she says. “We’re an American university with a global reach. We have perhaps the most dynamic and far-ranging alumni body of any major urban research and teaching university, and it’s key to our success moving forward that our alumni and friends be increasingly involved with Penn.”