January 10, 2012
Happy New Year and welcome back to Penn! As we embark on a new semester, I want to thank every member of the Penn community for continuing to distinguish this University as a place where individual passions fuel a collective purpose. Because of your commitment to collaboration, creativity, and innovation, 2011 was a year filled with noteworthy achievements. I know 2012 will continue this trend.
This past year, we welcomed Dr. J. Larry Jameson as the new Executive Vice President for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. We also recruited the renowned bioethicist Ezekiel J. Emanuel to our eminent faculty as the University's 13th PIK Professor. Penn Med received $16 million—one of the largest individual gifts made to medical research in the United States in 2011—to establish the Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative, dedicated to strengthening basic, translational, clinical, and population research into the areas of addiction, depressive disorders, and neurodegenerative disease.
In October, President Barack Obama presented professor Ralph Brinster of Penn Vet with the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists and engineers. Dr. Brinster is the first veterinarian, and the eighth Penn faculty member, to receive this prestigious award since it was established almost 50 years ago. His research into the manipulation of the mammalian germline has opened doors of discovery that are only just beginning to demonstrate the enormous potential and possibilities of reproductive biology and genetic engineering.
The American Physical Society elected five Penn faculty to its 2011 APS Fellowship class. They are Mark Devlin, Alan "Charlie" Johnson, and Joshua Klein of the Department of Physics and Astronomy; Feng Gai of the Department of Chemistry; and Howard Hu of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. Their innovative research ranges from the examination of the particle flow of fluids to the formation of our universe, and is making historic inroads by broadening the very scope of human knowledge.
Kudos go to Barbara Savage of the Department of History, who won the Grawemeyer Award in Religion for her extremely insightful book Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion. And to James Corner, Chairman of the Department of Landscape Architecture, who was awarded the commission to design new public spaces for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park South in London. We also are proud that a team of Penn physician researchers led by Katrina Armstrong of the Perelman School of Medicine was awarded $7.5 million from the National Cancer Institute in 2011 to create the Penn Center for Innovation in Personalized Cancer Screening, dedicated to studying emerging methods of breast cancer detection.
These, of course, are but a few of the many remarkable achievements made by Penn faculty last year. I am especially proud that in 2011 the entire Penn community put into motion a comprehensive plan that will catapult forward our commitment to creating a university community that reflects and respects the richness of the world it serves by introducing Penn's Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence.
As an important first step of implementation, Provost Vince Price has appointed John L. Jackson Jr. of the Annenberg School of Communication to be Senior Advisor to the Provost for Diversity. I look forward to working diligently with Vince, John, and all of you to meet this critically important mission, which will make Penn a place of even greater creativity, innovation, and inclusion. I also appreciate the support of the Pew Charitable Trusts in providing $2 million for our new Presidential Term Professorships, another important component of the new plan.
Outside our classrooms, studios, and laboratories, we saw a transformation of Penn's campus in 2011. In September, we celebrated the opening of Penn Park, the lovely green 24-acre centerpiece of our Penn Connects long-range development plan, which weaves together our campus, West Philadelphia and Center City. Penn Park increases our campus green space by 20 percent, and provides our students with four new athletic fields, a multipurpose stadium, and 12 new tennis courts, while offering the entire community a great place to relax, with unparalleled views of the Center City skyline. We also officially opened the Translational Research Center, and named the Perelman School of Medicine, with great gratitude to Raymond and Ruth Perelman for their historic gift.
While the opening of Penn Park marked the completion of the first phase of Penn Connects, this year we will launch Penn Connects 2.0, the second phase of the plan. Phase 2, expected to run through 2015, will include the January opening of Golkin Hall, the beautifully designed new wing at Penn Law, the completion of the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, and the renovation of our historic ARCH building in the heart of campus. We will continue with our transformative plans to construct a new College House between 33rd and 34th on Chestnut Street, and we also will enter the design phase of the new Neural Behavioral Sciences building. This month, the Wharton School San Francisco campus will relocate to the Hills Plaza building located on the famous Embarcadero.
Next fall, we will add even more green space to the east side of campus with the opening of Shoemaker Green in front of the Palestra. Our second college green will be a welcoming, tree-lined public commons with walkways and an inviting sitting area. Overlooking Shoemaker Green will be the new Information Commons at Franklin Field, scheduled for completion in February. This new space will provide our students with a much-needed area to study and socialize, bathed in lots of natural light and unbeatable views of our bustling campus.
As Penn Connects 2.0 moves forward, we will continue to review and revise the University's vision to strengthen connections with our West Philadelphia and Philadelphia neighbors while also providing our city, nation, and world with unparalleled teaching, research, and service.
Finally, I know that you will join me in expressing gratitude to the many remarkable Penn alumni and friends who have been so avidly generous in their support that we were able to reach our Making History campaign goal of $3.5 billion in 2011, more than one year ahead of schedule. This was a milestone certainly worth celebrating, but without the slightest suggestion of complacency since our ambitions still outpace our accomplishments. Much remains for us to accomplish by way of achieving all of our campaign priorities. In 2012, we will continue working toward all of our remaining priorities in the campaign, which include the funding of more endowed professorships (we've funded 100 so far in the campaign but need more for our eminent faculty), student financial aid (which as you know is essential to making a Penn education affordable to outstanding students regardless of their financial circumstances), our high priority capital projects, and all the remaining School and Center priorities.
New Year's is a time for reflection and resolution. I know that, as this exceptional community of dedicated scholars and teachers moves forward, we will continue to put Penn in the pantheon of teaching, research and public service. Thank you for making this an academic home to which I am always happy to return. Have a great semester!