So often, we are told that our differences divide us. But it is our unique life stories, brought together and joined as a whole, that constitute our common strength.

Amy Gutmann


The Penn Compact 2022 affirms inclusion as a means toward the essential ends of higher education: equalizing opportunity, educating leaders for all sectors of society, and enriching the experience of all members of the University community.

The cornerstone of Penn’s initiative to increase access for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds is its grant-based financial aid program. Since its launch in 2008, more than 19,000 undergraduate students have had 100% of their demonstrated financial needs met. At Penn today, about a third of aided students are first-generation, from a lower income background, or both, and the University has taken significant steps—including creating and supporting the growth of the Penn First Plus initiative—to ensure that these students are able to thrive throughout their time on campus.

The Power of Penn Campaign has expanded Penn’s robust undergraduate grant-based financial aid program and has grown graduate and professional student aid to minimize the burden of debt. Since Dr. Gutmann joined Penn in 2004, the University has awarded $2.4 billion in aid to students. Compared to 15 years ago, it costs on average 22 percent less in inflation-adjusted dollars to attend Penn.

At Penn, one in seven first year students are first in their families to go to college; in 2006, that number was one in 20. As a first-generation college graduate myself, my greatest passion is creating opportunities for outstanding students to aim higher than they ever dreamed.

Penn President Amy Gutmann

Penn’s ongoing commitment to expand access and increase diversity extends to international students, through programs such as Penn World Scholars, as well as millions of learners who will never step foot on Penn’s campus, through the Penn Online Learning Initiative.

Dr. Gutmann’s efforts to increase student diversity under the Penn Compact 2022 is equaled by a concomitant drive to increase faculty diversity. Penn’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence outlines an extensive plan to recruit, retain, and mentor ever more distinguished and diverse faculty, and is backed by $100 million in institutional investments. Since the Action Plan was spearheaded in 2011, Penn has seen a 22 percent increase in female faculty and 46 percent increase in underrepresented minority faculty.

In recent years, Dr. Gutmann has also appointed important administrators serving in brand new roles of Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Social Equity and Community to advance priorities including Projects for Progress and Campaign for Community.

Additionally, under Dr. Gutmann’s leadership, Penn has implemented an extensive list of economic inclusion initiatives in its Human Resources, Business Services, and Facilities and Real Estate Services arms, that increase employment opportunities, support small and local businesses, and promote goals—for instance, with construction projects—that aspire to contract significantly with minority and women-owned companies.

Signature Initiatives

At Penn, all undergraduate financial aid is awarded on the basis of financial need. Penn does not offer aid based on academic or athletic merit. Penn covers demonstrated financial need with financial aid packages that consist entirely of grant funding and work study, assisting families across a wide range of the economic spectrum. This makes it possible for students from a variety of backgrounds to afford a Penn education.

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The Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence outlines initiatives that help Penn recruit and retain an ever more distinguished and diverse faculty whose composition reflects the pool of exceptional, qualified applicants nationally in all fields. The Plan’s goal is to create an inclusive community where all feel welcomed, supported, and have equal access to networks for mentoring and research.

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The Office of Social Equity and Community is committed to identifying opportunities for connection and progress in the three pillars of Penn’s ongoing mission—inclusion, innovation, and impact—while also celebrating work that is already underway through the heads, hearts, and hands of the many dedicated people who bring Penn to life.


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The Penn World Scholars Program brings outstanding international undergraduates to Penn from a wide range of countries and backgrounds. Selected for their potential to pursue lives of impactful leadership and service, as well as their academic achievement and financial need, they receive financial support throughout their time at Penn that is consistent with the most generous awards available to undergraduates.

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Penn Compact Inclusion in the News

To honor John Lewis, we must turn back the rising tide of voter suppression
Philadelphia Inquirer | 2021-07-19 Mary Frances Berry of the School of Arts & Sciences wrote about the resurgence of voter suppression laws in the U.S. To preserve the right to vote, Berry said, “We must pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. And to do that, we must remove the Senate filibuster as a barrier to the legislation.”
More Black patients are participating in clinical trials for cancer treatment at Penn thanks to this effort
Philadelphia Inquirer | 2021-07-14 Carmen Guerra and Armenta Washington of the Abramson Cancer Center spoke about their efforts to enroll more Black patients with cancer in clinical trials. “When we conduct research, we want to say that what we learn applies to all people,” said Guerra. “But that might not be the case if we are just studying one population.”
Philadelphians react after Congress approves bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday | 2021-06-17 Eve Higginbotham of the Perelman School of Medicine spoke about the significance of Juneteenth. "It's a day of reflection as well as an acknowledgment that, going forward, we still have work to do," she said. “We still need people engaged, but we need people to translate their reflections into action.”
$90 million HBCU partnership aims to increase diversity in high finance
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | 2021-06-16 The Wharton School will create a virtual institute for HBCU students interested in the alternative-investment industry.