DR. AMY GUTMANN
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
OCTOBER 15, 2004
Thank you, Chairman Riepe. Trustees, faculty, students, staff, and
alumni, Governor Rendell, honored guests from other Universities;
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
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
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 also 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
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
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, more than 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
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
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 Matt 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 Jaime-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
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
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
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.