Contemporary Responsibilities of the President
The President of the University of Pennsylvania is a leader of an internationally acclaimed faculty. Penn’s 4,000 faculty members include winners of Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prizes, MacArthur Fellowships, and other important scholarly awards and honors.
The President leads an institution dedicated to providing educational, research, and co-curricular opportunities for some 23,000 students enrolled in one of Penn's 12 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools and the College of Liberal and Professional Studies. These students are among the brightest and most accomplished in the world. Encouraged to pursue their own research and engage in community service, Penn students count among their ranks many winners of Fulbright awards and Rhodes, Marshall, and Truman scholarships. Their educational experience is enriched by more than 300 student co-curricular activities and organizations.
The President represents the University to external constituencies on issues related to Penn and on higher education in general. Her counsel and collaboration are sought by leaders from the community, the city, the commonwealth, and the federal government. She regularly comments and testifies on political, regulatory, and external funding issues that concern major research universities like Penn, and as Chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues until 2017, she advised President Barack Obama on bioethics.
The President is Penn's chief architect and steward of Penn's thriving partnership with the West Philadelphia community. By directing the University's multi-faceted academic, service, and economic activities toward revitalizing the neighborhood and improving community relations, the President has transformed Penn into a national model for civic engagement. Today, thousands of Penn students currently volunteer in West Philadelphia, either through direct community service or through academic service learning courses that produce enduring changes, such as improved public schools, heightened literacy and nutrition awareness, and small business development.
The President is the chief executive of the largest private employer in Philadelphia and the fourth-largest in Pennsylvania; she is responsible for the financial health of the University, and oversees one of the largest integrated academic health systems in the country.
The President is an ambassador of the University to Penn's 290,000 alumni. Penn has 122 alumni clubs: 68 domestic clubs in 38 states and Puerto Rico, plus clubs in 49 foreign countries. Active members of the Penn community, alumni participate in the University as trustees, as overseers of Penn schools and centers, and as leaders of class- and school-based initiatives. They meet with applicants, serve as career advisors to students, and are still Penn students themselves, participating in life-long learning courses on the Internet.
The President works with deans, administrators, and alumni in efforts designed to attract philanthropic support from individuals, corporations, and foundations. Many of Penn’s new buildings and landmark restorations—from Huntsman Hall to Perelman Quadrangle—were made possible by major gifts from prominent alumni.
The President reports to the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and is an ex-officio member of the Board. The Board of Trustees, responsible for the governance of the University, is chaired by Penn alumnus David L. Cohen (L'81), Executive Vice President of the Comcast Corporation.