Engagement with communities here at home, across our country, and throughout our world—civic engagement, for short—is at the heart of the Penn Compact 2022.

Amy Gutmann


Building on the University’s long history of civic mindedness, the Penn Compact 2022 brings Penn knowledge and practice to bear on key local, national, and global issues to help people lead healthy, prosperous lives. In doing so, Penn is committed to working side-by-side with the communities it seeks to serve.

To illuminate the prominent place that civic engagement holds at Penn, Dr. Gutmann established the President’s Engagement Prizes in 2015, which provide unparalleled support for prizewinning undergraduate seniors as they design and undertake public service projects after graduation. In 2020, Dr. Gutmann named Penn’s first Vice President for Social Equity and Community, who oversees Projects for Progress, a fund intended to encourage students, faculty, and staff to design and implement pilot projects based on innovative research that will advance Penn’s aim of a more inclusive university and community. Both sets of prizes reinforce Dr. Gutmann’s unwavering belief that a university is, as Penn’s founder Ben Franklin believed, “first and foremost, a social undertaking to create a social good.”

Throughout Dr. Gutmann’s tenure at Penn, she has championed public-private partnerships, exemplified by Penn’s contribution of $100 million to the School District of Philadelphia to remediate environmental hazards in the city’s public schools—the largest private gift to the School District in its history. Penn has for more than a decade maintained strong ties with nearby schools including the Henry C. Lea School and Penn Alexander, and under Dr. Gutmann’s leadership, too, influential programs including the Teachers Institute of Philadelphia, Penn Futures Project, and Penn Rising Scholar Success Academy were born.

The Penn Connects, Penn Connects 2.0, and now Penn Connects 3.0 road maps have included massive improvements of facilities and growth of green spaces on Penn’s contiguous University and medical campuses. Major initiatives and investments throughout the years have included the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, Roberts Proton Therapy Center, Smilow Center for Translational Research, Pennovation Works and the Pennovation Center, and Penn Park. Soon, the New Patient Pavilion—a 17-story, 1.5 million-square foot, $1.5 billion hospital—will open. The Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services directs Penn’s capital projects, which are on average $250 million annually. Penn encourages economic inclusion on all construction projects, with extensive opportunities for local residents, minority-owned businesses, and women-owned business to participate in its major capital projects.

It’s that moment when daringly original ideas, unparalleled scholarly resources, and a transformative culture of innovation all meet. Impact is perfect when it can save lives; when it can change how we think or improve how we live.

Amy Gutmann

Global engagement has been a centerpiece of Dr. Gutmann’s presidency, highlighted by the creation of the Perry World House on campus, the Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy & Global Engagement in Washington, D.C. New academic centers have also been established under Dr. Gutmann’s guidance, including the Penn Center for the Study of Contemporary China, the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, and the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance. In 2019, thanks to a generous gift from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Penn Paideia Program was launched, placing a particular emphasis for students involved on wellness, citizenship, service, and dialogue across divides.

Dr. Gutmann has also championed Penn’s commitment to the arts, as much for students, faculty, and staff as for the community at large, supporting one-of-a-kind sites and programs on campus including the Penn Museum, Arthur Ross Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, supported by an endowed gift from Keith L. and Katherine Sachs, was recently established to provide grants and other forms of strategic support to artists, faculty, cultural centers, students, and other arts advocates at Penn, with a mission of connecting through art the University to the world at large.

Signature Initiatives

The President’s Engagement Prizes are competitively awarded annually to academically excellent and civically engaged Penn seniors to design and undertake fully funded local, national, or global engagement projects during the first year after they graduate from Penn. Each project winner will receive up to $100,000 in project implementation expenses, as well as $50,000 in living expenses. 

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As a leading global university, Penn encourages its faculty and students to both go out into the world and welcome the world to them. The University has invested in state-of-the-art facilities to advance this engagement, including the Penn Wharton China Center, located in Beijing, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy & Global Engagement in Washington, D.C., and Perry World House, a global policy research center at the heart of Penn’s campus.

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The SNF Paideia Program serves as a hub for civic dialogue in undergraduate education at Penn. In collaboration with other Penn programs and organizations, the SNF Paideia Program provides curricular and co-curricular opportunities for all students to develop the knowledge, skills, and ethical frameworks necessary to be informed, engaged, and effective community members, and to lead fulfilling and integrated personal, professional, and civic lives.

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Penn Connects 3.0 is the University’s master plan to create an innovative and beautiful urban campus with vibrant living and learning spaces that make a positive impact on the local community. Building on Dr. Gutmann’s original campus plan, which added 5 million square feet of new and renovated space and increased open space by 25 percent, Penn Connects 3.0 reinforces the University’s sustainability objectives as outlined in its Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 3.0.

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Penn Compact Impact in the News

This urban planner created a new metric to find a city’s most frightening intersections
Fast Company | 2021-07-30 Megan Ryerson of the Stuart Weitzman School of Design is using biometric data to identify dangerous zones for urban cyclists. The data “can be used to measure safety rather than waiting for someone to die,” she said.
The role of race and ethnicity in medicine
“The Pulse,” (WHYY Radio) | 2021-07-30 Jaya Aysola and Amaka Eneanya of the Perelman School of Medicine spoke about how the medical field interprets race and ethnicity. Aysola’s research shows evidence of racial bias in medical school curricula: “The most prevailing issue was this continued mischaracterization of race and ethnicity as a biomedical term, when we know it to be a social construct.”
Nonprofits get a new type of donation: Cryptocurrency
The New York Times | 2021-07-30 Vice President John Zeller of Development and Alumni Relations spoke about a large gift of cryptocurrency to the Wharton School. “It’s very nice to have the capacity to do it when a donor says, ‘I have some Bitcoin,’” he said. “We can accept it now without it grinding the university to a halt.”
Sports are a refuge for children—let's ensure their safety from abuse
The Hill | 2021-07-29 Marci Hamilton of the School of Arts & Sciences wrote an opinion piece about the Child Athlete Bill of Rights, a new set of proposed policies to protect young athletes from sexual abuse. The document is “grounded in a simple message: Every child has the right to be safe.”