The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) is a private Ivy League research university located in the University City section of West Philadelphia. Incorporated as The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn is one of 14 founding members of the Association of American Universities and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.
Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder, advocated an educational program that focused as much on practical education for commerce and public service as on the classics and theology, though his proposed curriculum was never adopted. The university coat of arms features a dolphin on the red chief, adopted directly from the Franklin family's own coat of arms. Penn was one of the first academic institutions to follow a multidisciplinary model pioneered by several European universities, concentrating multiple "faculties" (e.g., theology, classics, medicine) into one institution. It was also home to many other educational innovations. The first school of medicine in North America (Perelman School of Medicine, 1765), the first collegiate business school (Wharton School, 1881) and the first "student union" building and organization (Houston Hall, 1896) were founded at Penn. With an endowment of $12.21 billion (2017), Penn had the seventh largest endowment of all colleges in the United States. All of Penn's schools exhibit very high research activity. In fiscal year 2015, Penn's academic research budget was $851 million, involving more than 4,300 faculty, 1,100 postdoctoral fellows and 5,500 support staff/graduate assistants.
As of 2018, distinguished alumni include 14 heads of state, 25 billionaires; 3 United States Supreme Court justices; 33 United States Senators, 42 United States Governors and 158 members of the U.S. House of Representatives; 8 signers of the United States Declaration of Independence; 12 signers of the United States Constitution, and the current President of the United States. In addition, some 35 Nobel laureates, 169 Guggenheim Fellows, 80 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and many Fortune 500 CEOs have been affiliated with the university.
University of Pennsylvania considers itself the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States though this is contest by Princeton and Columbia Universities. The university also considers itself as the first university in the United States with both undergraduate and graduate studies.
This statue of Benjamin Franklin donated by Justus C. Strawbridge to the City of Philadelphia in 1899 now sits in front of College Hall.
In 1740, a group of Philadelphians joined together to erect a great preaching hall for the traveling evangelist George Whitefield, who toured the American colonies delivering open air sermons. The building was designed and built by Edmund Woolley and was the largest building in the city at the time, drawing thousands of people the first time it was preached in.
It was initially planned to serve as a charity school as well, but a lack of funds forced plans for the chapel and school to be suspended. According to Franklin's autobiography, it was in 1743 when he first had the idea to establish an academy, "thinking the Rev. Richard Peters a fit person to superintend such an institution". However, Peters declined a casual inquiry from Franklin and nothing further was done for another six years. In the fall of 1749, now more eager to create a school to educate future generations, Benjamin Franklin circulated a pamphlet titled "Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania", his vision for what he called a "Public Academy of Philadelphia". Unlike the other Colonial colleges that existed in 1749—Harvard, William & Mary, Yale and Princeton—Franklin's new school would not focus merely on education for the clergy. He advocated an innovative concept of higher education, one which would teach both the ornamental knowledge of the arts and the practical skills necessary for making a living and doing public service. The proposed program of study could have become the nation's first modern liberal arts curriculum, although it was never implemented because William Smith (1727-1803), an Anglican priest who became the first provost and other trustees strongly preferred the traditional curriculum.
Franklin assembled a board of trustees from among the leading citizens of Philadelphia, the first such non-sectarian board in America. At the first meeting of the 24 members of the Board of Trustees (November 13, 1749), the issue of where to locate the school was a prime concern. Although a lot across Sixth Street from the old Pennsylvania State House (later renamed and famously known since 1776 as "Independence Hall"), was offered without cost by James Logan, its owner, the Trustees realized that the building erected in 1740, which was still vacant, would be an even better site. The original sponsors of the dormant building still owed considerable construction debts and asked Franklin's group to assume their debts and, accordingly, their inactive trusts. On February 1, 1750, the new board took over the building and trusts of the old board. On August 13, 1751, the "Academy of Philadelphia", using the great hall at 4th and Arch Streets, took in its first secondary students. A charity school also was chartered July 13, 1753 in accordance with the intentions of the original "New Building" donors, although it lasted only a few years. On June 16, 1755, the "College of Philadelphia" was chartered, paving the way for the addition of undergraduate instruction. All three schools shared the same Board of Trustees and were considered to be part of the same institution. The first commencement exercises were held on May 17, 1757.
The institution of higher learning was known as the College of Philadelphia from 1755 to 1779. In 1779, not trusting then-provost the Reverend William Smith's "Loyalist" tendencies, the revolutionary State Legislature created a University of the State of Pennsylvania. The result was a schism, with Smith continuing to operate an attenuated version of the College of Philadelphia. In 1791, the Legislature issued a new charter, merging the two institutions into a new University of Pennsylvania with twelve men from each institution on the new Board of Trustees.
Penn has three claims to being the first university in the United States, according to university archives director Mark Frazier Lloyd: the 1765 founding of the first medical school in America made Penn the first institution to offer both "undergraduate" and professional education; the 1779 charter made it the first American institution of higher learning to take the name of "University"; and existing colleges were established as seminaries (although, as detailed earlier, Penn adopted a traditional seminary curriculum as well).
After being located in downtown Philadelphia for more than a century, the campus was moved across the Schuylkill River to property purchased from the Blockley Almshouse in West Philadelphia in 1872, where it has since remained in an area now known as University City. Although Penn began operating as an academy or secondary school in 1751 and obtained its collegiate charter in 1755, it initially designated 1750 as its founding date; this is the year which appears on the first iteration of the university seal. Sometime later in its early history, Penn began to consider 1749 as its founding date and this year was referenced for over a century, including at the centennial celebration in 1849. In 1899, the board of trustees voted to adjust the founding date earlier again, this time to 1740, the date of "the creation of the earliest of the many educational trusts the University has taken upon itself". The board of trustees voted in response to a three-year campaign by Penn's General Alumni Society to retroactively revise the university's founding date to appear older than Princeton University, which had been chartered in 1746.
The Academy of Philadelphia, a secondary school for boys, began operations in 1751 in an unused church building at 4th and Arch Streets which had sat unfinished and dormant for over a decade. Upon receiving a collegiate charter in 1755, the first classes for the College of Philadelphia were taught in the same building, in many cases to the same boys who had already graduated from The Academy of Philadelphia. In 1801, the University moved to the unused Presidential Mansion at 9th and Market Streets, a building that both George Washington and John Adams had declined to occupy while Philadelphia was the temporary national capital. Classes were held in the mansion until 1829, when it was demolished. Architect William Strickland designed twin buildings on the same site, College Hall and Medical Hall (both 1829–1830), which formed the core of the Ninth Street Campus until Penn's move to West Philadelphia in the 1870s.
Evolution from commuter school to research university
As recently as the 1950s, the University of Pennsylvania was considered a "commuter school". The Pennsylvania Urban Redevelopment Act of 1954 enabled the university to expand and build facilities better suited to a residential university.
Gradually, over the second half of the 20th century, the school raised its profile, became more selective and dramatically increased its endowment. Between 1995 and 2005, the university spent over a billion dollars on campus improvements to attract top students and faculty.
Penn's educational innovations include: the nation's first medical school in 1765; the first university teaching hospital in 1874; the Wharton School, the world's first collegiate business school, in 1881; the first American student union building, Houston Hall, in 1896; the country's second school of veterinary medicine; and the home of ENIAC, the world's first electronic, large-scale, general-purpose digital computer in 1946. Penn is also home to the oldest continuously functioning psychology department in North America and is where the American Medical Association was founded. In 1921, Penn was also the first university to award a PhD to an African-American woman, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander (in economics).
Penn's motto is based on a line from Horace's III.24 (Book 3, Ode 24), quid leges sine moribus vanae proficiunt? ("of what avail empty laws without [good] morals?"). From 1756 to 1898, the motto read Sine Moribus Vanae. When it was pointed out that the motto could be translated as "Loose women without morals", the university quickly changed the motto to literae sine moribus vanae ("Letters without morals [are] useless"). In 1932, all elements of the seal were revised. As part of the redesign, it was decided that the new motto "mutilated" Horace, and it was changed to its present wording, Leges Sine Moribus Vanae ("Laws without morals [are] useless").
The official seal of the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania serves as the signature and symbol of authenticity on documents issued by the corporation. A request for one was first recorded in a meeting of the trustees in 1753 during which some of the Trustees "desired to get a Common Seal engraved for the Use of [the] Corporation". However, it was not until a meeting in 1756 that "a public Seal for the College with a proper device and Motto" was requested to be engraved in silver. The most recent design, a modified version of the original seal, was approved in 1932, adopted a year later and is still used for much of the same purposes as the original.
The outer ring of the current seal is inscribed with "Universitas Pennsylvaniensis", the Latin name of the University of Pennsylvania. The inside contains seven stacked books on a desk with the titles of subjects of the trivium and a modified quadrivium, components of a classical education: Theolog[ia], Astronom[ia], Philosoph[ia], Mathemat[ica], Logica, Rhetorica and Grammatica. Between the books and the outer ring is the Latin motto of the University, "Leges Sine Moribus Vanae".
Much of Penn's architecture was designed by the Cope & Stewardson firm, whose principal architects combined the Gothic architecture of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge with the local landscape to establish the Collegiate Gothic style. The present core campus covers over 279 acres (113 ha) in a contiguous area of West Philadelphia's University City section, whereas the older heart of the campus comprises the University of Pennsylvania Campus Historic District. All of Penn's schools and most of its research institutes are located on this campus. The surrounding neighborhood includes several restaurants and pubs, a large upscale grocery store and a movie theater on the western edge of campus.
The campus has several notable art installations. The "Covenant", better known to the student body as "The Tampons", is a large red structure located on Locust Walk between the high rise residences. It was installed in 1975 and is made of rolled sheets of milled steel. A larger-than-life white button, known as "The Button", is another popular sculpture. It sits at the south entrance of Van Pelt Library and has button holes large enough to stand in. Penn also has a replica of the "Love" sculpture, part of a series created by Robert Indiana. It is a painted aluminum sculpture and was installed in 1998.
The Module 6 Utility Plant and Garage at Penn was designed by BLT Architects and completed in 1995. Module 6 is located at 38th and Walnut and includes spaces for 627 vehicles, 9,000 sq ft (840 m2) of storefront retail operations, a 9,500-ton chiller module and corresponding extension of the campus chilled water loop and a 4,000-ton ice storage facility.
In 2007, Penn acquired about 35 acres (14 ha) between the campus and the Schuylkill River (the former site of the Philadelphia Civic Center and a nearby 24-acre (9.7 ha) site owned by the United States Postal Service). Dubbed the Postal Lands, the site extends from Market Street on the north to Penn's Bower Field on the south, including the former main regional U.S. Postal Building at 30th and Market Streets, now the regional office for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Over the next decade, the site will become the home to educational, research, biomedical, and mixed-use facilities. The first phase, comprising a park and athletic facilities, opened in the fall of 2011. Penn also plans new connections between the campus and the city, including a pedestrian bridge. In 2010, in its first significant expansion across the Schuylkill River, Penn purchased 23 acres at the northwest corner of 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue from DuPont for storage and office space.
In September 2011, Penn completed the construction of the $46.5 million 24-acre (97,000 m2) Penn Park, which features passive and active recreation and athletic components framed and subdivided by canopy trees, lawns, and meadows. It is located east of the Highline Green and stretches from Walnut Street to South Streets. The University also owns the 92-acre (37 ha) Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill in northwestern Philadelphia, the official arboretum of the state of Pennsylvania. Penn also owns the 687-acre (278 ha) New Bolton Center, the research and large-animal health care center of its Veterinary School. Located near Kennett Square, New Bolton Center received nationwide media attention when Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro underwent surgery at its Widener Hospital for injuries suffered while running in the Preakness Stakes.
Penn borders Drexel University and is near the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. The renowned cancer research center Wistar Institute is also located on campus. In 2014, a new 7-story glass and steel building was completed next to the Institute's historic 117-year-old brick building further expanding collaboration between the university and the Wistar Institute.
Penn's library began in 1750 with a donation of books from cartographer Lewis Evans. Twelve years later, then-provost William Smith sailed to England to raise additional funds to increase the collection size. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Libraries' earliest donors and, as a Trustee, saw to it that funds were allocated for the purchase of texts from London, many of which are still part of the collection, more than 250 years later. It has grown into a system of 15 libraries (13 are on the contiguous campus) with 400 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees and a total operating budget of more than $48 million. The library system has 6.19 million book and serial volumes as well as 4.23 million microform items and 1.11 million e-books. It subscribes to over 68,000 print serials and e-journals.
Penn's Libraries, with associated school or subject area: Annenberg (School of Communications), located in the Annenberg School; Biddle (Law), located in the Law School; Biomedical, located adjacent to the Robert Wood Johnson Pavilion of the Medical School; Chemistry, located in the 1973 Wing of the Chemistry Building; Dental Medicine; Engineering, located on the second floor of the Towne Building in the Engineering School; Fine Arts, located within the Fisher Fine Arts Library, designed by Frank Furness; Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, located on Walnut Street at Washington Square; Lea Library, located within the Van Pelt Library; Lippincott (Wharton School), located on the second floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center; Math/Physics/Astronomy, located on the third floor of David Rittenhouse Laboratory; Museum (Archaeology); Rare Books and Manuscripts; Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center (Humanities and Social Sciences) – location of Weigle Information Commons; Veterinary Medicine, located in Penn Campus and New Bolton Center; and High Density Storage.
The Penn Libraries are strong in Area Studies, with bibliographers for Africa, East Asia, Judaica, Latin America, Middle East, Russia and Slavic and South Asia. As a result, the Penn Libraries have extensive collections in several hundred languages.
The University Museum
Since the University museum was founded in 1887, it has taken part in 400 research projects worldwide. The museum's first project was an excavation of Nippur, a location in current day Iraq. The museum has three gallery floors with artifacts from Egypt, the Middle East, Mesoamerica, Asia, the Mediterranean, Africa and indigenous artifacts of the Americas. Its most famous object is the goat rearing into the branches of a rosette-leafed plant, from the royal tombs of Ur.
The Museum's excavations and collections foster a strong research base for graduate students in the Graduate Group in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World. Features of the Beaux-Arts building include a rotunda and gardens that include Egyptian papyrus. The Institute of Contemporary Art, which is based on Penn's campus, showcases various art exhibitions throughout the year.
Every College House at the University of Pennsylvania has at least four members of faculty in the roles of House Dean, Faculty Master and College House Fellows. Within the College Houses, Penn has nearly 40 themed residential programs for students with shared interests such as world cinema or science and technology. Many of the nearby homes and apartments in the area surrounding the campus are often rented by undergraduate students moving off campus after their first year, as well as by graduate and professional students.
The College Houses include W.E.B. Du Bois, Fisher Hassenfeld, Gregory, Harnwell, Harrison, Hill, Kings Court English, New College House, Riepe, Rodin, Stouffer and Ware. Fisher Hassenfeld, Ware and Riepe together make up one building called "The Quad".
The University of Pennsylvania Police Department (UPPD) is the largest private police department in Pennsylvania, with 117 members. All officers are sworn municipal police officers and retain general law enforcement authority while on the campus.
The College of Arts and Sciences is the undergraduate division of the School of Arts and Sciences. The School of Arts and Sciences also contains the Graduate Division and the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, which is home to the Fels Institute of Government, the master's programs in Organizational Dynamics, and the Environmental Studies (MES) program. Wharton is the business school of the University of Pennsylvania. Other schools with undergraduate programs include the School of Nursing and the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS).
Penn has a strong focus on interdisciplinary learning and research. It offers double degree programs, unique majors, and academic flexibility. Penn's "One University" policy allows undergraduates access to courses at all of Penn's undergraduate and graduate schools except the medical, veterinary and dental schools. Undergraduates at Penn may also take courses at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore under a reciprocal agreement known as the Quaker Consortium.
Coordinated dual-degree and interdisciplinary programs
Penn offers specialized coordinated dual-degree (CDD) programs, which award candidates degrees from multiple schools at the university upon completion of graduation criteria of both schools. Undergraduate programs include:
- The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology
- Artificial Intelligence: Computer and Cognitive Science
- The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business
- Nursing and Health Care Management
- The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management
- Vagelos Scholars Program in Molecular Life Sciences
- Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER)
- Accelerated 7 year Bio-Dental Program
- Singh Program in Networked & Social Systems Engineering (NETS)
- Accelerated 6-year Law and Medicine Program
- Digital Media Design (DMD)
Dual-degree programs which lead to the same multiple degrees without participation in the specific above programs are also available. Unlike CDD programs, "dual degree" students fulfill requirements of both programs independently without involvement of another program. Specialized dual-degree programs include Liberal Studies and Technology as well as an Artificial Intelligence: Computer and Cognitive Science Program. Both programs award a degree from the College of Arts and Sciences and a degree from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In addition, the Vagelos Scholars Program in Molecular Life Sciences allows its students to either double major in the sciences or submatriculate and earn both a B.A. and a M.S. in four years. The most recent Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) will be first offered for the class of 2016. A joint program of Penn's School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, VIPER leads to dual Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Engineering degrees by combining majors from each school.
For graduate programs, Penn offers many formalized double degree graduate degrees such as a joint J.D./MBA, and maintains a list of interdisciplinary institutions, such as the Institute for Medicine and Engineering, the Joseph H. Lauder Institute for Management and International Studies, and the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science.
Academic medical center and biomedical research complex
Penn's health-related programs—including the Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, Nursing, and Veterinary Medicine, and programs in bioengineering (School of Engineering), biology (School of Arts and Sciences), and health management (the Wharton School)—are among the university's strongest academic components.
However, the size of Penn's biomedical research organization adds a very capital intensive component to the university's operations and introduces revenue instability due to changing government regulations, reduced federal funding for research and Medicaid/Medicare program changes. This is a primary reason highlighted in bond rating agencies' views on Penn's overall financial rating, which ranks one notch below its academic peers. Penn has worked to address these issues by pooling its schools (as well as several hospitals and clinical practices) into the University of Pennsylvania Health System, thereby pooling resources for greater efficiencies and research impact.
The Princeton Review ranks Penn as the 6th most selective school in the United States. For the Class of 2022, entering in the fall of 2018, the University received a record-high 44,482 applications and admitted 8.39 percent of the applicants (6.46% in the regular decision cycle), marking Penn's most selective admissions cycle in the history of the University. The Atlantic also ranked Penn among the 10 most selective schools in the country. At the graduate level, based on admission statistics from U.S. News & World Report, Penn's most selective programs include its law school, the health care schools (medicine, dental medicine, nursing, Social Work and veterinary) and its business school.
Research, innovations and discoveries
Penn is classified as an "R1" doctoral university: "Highest research activity." Its economic impact on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 2015 amounted to $14.3 billion. In fiscal year 2015, Penn's research budget was $851 million. In line with its well-known interdisciplinary tradition, Penn's research centers often span two or more disciplines. In the 2010–2011 academic year alone, five interdisciplinary research centers were created or substantially expanded; these include the Center for Health-care Financing, the Center for Global Women's Health at the Nursing School, the $13 million Morris Arboretum's Horticulture Center, the $15 million Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at Wharton and the $13 million Translational Research Center at Penn Medicine. With these additions, Penn now counts 165 research centers hosting a research community of over 4,300 faculty and over 1,100 postdoctoral fellows, 5,500 academic support staff and graduate student trainees. To further assist the advancement of interdisciplinary research President Amy Gutmann established the "Penn Integrates Knowledge" title awarded to selected Penn professors "whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge". These professors hold endowed professorships and joint appointments between Penn's schools. The most recent of the 22 PIK professors is George Demiris, who started at Penn in January 2018 with a joint appointment at the School of Nursing and the Perelman School of Medicine.
Penn is also among the most prolific producers of doctoral students. With 487 PhDs awarded in 2009, Penn ranks third in the Ivy League, only behind Columbia and Cornell (Harvard did not report data). It also has one of the highest numbers of post-doctoral appointees (933 in number for 2004–2007), ranking third in the Ivy League (behind Harvard and Yale) and tenth nationally. In most disciplines Penn professors' productivity is among the highest in the nation and first in the fields of Epidemiology, Business, Communication Studies, Comparative Literature, Languages, Information Science, Criminal Justice and Criminology, Social Sciences and Sociology. According to the National Research Council nearly three-quarters of Penn's 41 assessed programs were placed in ranges including the top 10 rankings in their fields, with more than half of these in ranges including the top 5 rankings in these fields.
Penn's research tradition has historically been complemented by innovations that shaped higher education. In addition to establishing the first medical school, the first university teaching hospital, the first business school and the first student union, Penn was also the cradle of other significant developments. In 1852, Penn Law was the first law school in the nation to publish a law journal still in existence (then called The American Law Register, now the Penn Law Review, one of the most cited law journals in the world). Under the deanship of William Draper Lewis, the law school was also one of the first schools to emphasize legal teaching by full-time professors instead of practitioners, a system that is still followed today. The Wharton School was home to several pioneering developments in business education. It established the first research center in a business school in 1921 and the first center for entrepreneurship center in 1973 and it regularly introduced novel curricula for which BusinessWeek wrote, "Wharton is on the crest of a wave of reinvention and change in management education".
Several major scientific discoveries have also taken place at Penn. The university is probably best known as the place where the first general-purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) was born in 1946 at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. It was here also where the world's first spelling and grammar checkers were created, as well as the popular COBOL programming language. Penn can also boast some of the most important discoveries in the field of medicine. The dialysis machine used as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function was conceived and devised out of a pressure cooker by William Inouye while he was still a student at Penn Med; the Rubella and Hepatitis B vaccines were developed at Penn; the discovery of cancer's link with genes, cognitive therapy, Retin-A (the cream used to treat acne), Resistin, the Philadelphia gene (linked to chronic myelogenous leukemia) and the technology behind PET Scans were all discovered by Penn Med researchers. More recent gene research has led to the discovery of the genes for fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation; spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, a disorder marked by progressive muscle wasting; and Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the hands, feet and limbs. Conductive polymer was also developed at Penn by Alan J. Heeger, Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa, an invention that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. On faculty since 1965, Ralph L. Brinster developed the scientific basis for in vitro fertilization and the transgenic mouse at Penn. The theory of superconductivity was also partly developed at Penn, by then faculty member John Robert Schrieffer (along with John Bardeen and Leon Cooper). The university has also contributed major advancements in the fields of economics and management. Among the many discoveries are conjoint analysis, widely used as a predictive tool especially in market research, Simon Kuznets's method of measuring Gross National Product, the Penn effect (the observation that consumer price levels in richer countries are systematically higher than in poorer ones) and the "Wharton Model" developed by Nobel-laureate Lawrence Klein to measure and forecast economic activity. The idea behind Health Maintenance Organizations also belonged to Penn professor Robert Eilers, who put it into practice during then President Nixon's health reform in the 1970s.
According to U.S. News & World Report 's 2018 rankings, Penn is ranked 8th among national universities in the United States. U.S. News also includes Penn in its Most Popular National Universities list and so does The Princeton Review in its Dream Colleges list. As reported by USA Today, Penn was ranked 1st in the United States by College Factual for 2015.
In their 2016/2017 editions, Penn was ranked 18th in the world by the QS World University Rankings, 18th by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and 13th by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. According to the 2015 ARWU ranking, Penn is also the 8th and 9th best university in the world for economics/business and social sciences studies, respectively. University of Pennsylvania ranked 12th among 300 Best World Universities in 2012 compiled by Human Resources & Labor Review (HRLR) on Measurements of World's Top 300 Universities Graduates' Performance.
The Center for Measuring University Performance places Penn in the first tier of the United States' top research universities (tied with Columbia, MIT and Stanford), based on research expenditures, faculty awards, PhD granted and other academic criteria. Penn was also ranked 18th of all U.S. colleges and universities in terms of R&D expenditures in fiscal year 2013 by the National Science Foundation. The High Impact Universities research performance index ranks Penn 8th in the world, whereas the 2010 Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities (published by the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan) ranks Penn 11th in the world for 2007, 2008 and 2010 and 9th for 2009.
The Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers measures universities' research productivity, research impact, and research excellence based on the scientific papers published by their academic staff. The SCImago Institutions Rankings World Report 2012, which ranks world universities, national institutions and academies in terms of research output, ranks Penn 7th nationally among U.S. universities (2nd in the Ivy League behind Harvard) and 28th in the world overall (the first being France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).
The Mines ParisTech International Professional Ranking, which ranks universities on the basis of the number of alumni listed among CEOs in the 500 largest worldwide companies, ranks Penn 11th worldwide and 2nd nationally behind Harvard. According to a US News article in 2010, Penn is tied for second (tied with Dartmouth College and Tufts University) for the number of undergraduate alumni who are current Fortune 100 CEOs. Forbes ranked Penn 17th, based on a variety of criteria.
Penn's arts and science programs are all well regarded, with many departments ranked among the nation's top 10. At the undergraduate level, Wharton (Penn's business school) and Penn's nursing school have maintained their No. 1, 2 or 3 rankings since U.S. News began reviewing such programs. The College of Arts and Sciences' English Department is also consistently ranked in the top five humanities programs in the country, ranking 3rd in the most current U.S. News report. In the School of Engineering, top departments are bioengineering (typically ranked in the top 5 by U.S. News), mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and nanotechnology. The school is also strong in some areas of computer science and artificial intelligence.
Graduate and professional programs
Among its professional schools, the schools of business, communication, dentistry, medicine, nursing, and veterinary medicine rank in the top 5 nationally (see U.S. News and National Research Council). Penn's Law School is ranked 7th, its Design school is 8th, and its School of Education and School of Social Policy and Practice are ranked in the top 10 (see U.S. News). In the 2010 QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, Penn was ranked 2nd in North America.
Amy Gutmann's total compensation in 2016 was $3,333,378, placing her as the second highest paid college president in the Ivy League, behind Columbia University's Lee C. Bollinger.
Of those accepted for admission to the undergraduate Class of 2018, 52 percent are Asian, Hispanic, African-American or Native American. In addition, 53% of current students are women.
Twelve percent of the undergraduate Class of 2018 were international students. The composition of international students accepted in the Class of 2018 is: 43% from Asia; 15% from Africa and the Middle East; 20% from Europe; 15% from Canada and Mexico; 5% from the Caribbean, Central America and South America; 3% from Australia and the Pacific Islands. The acceptance rate for international students applying for the class of 2018 was 429 out of 6,428 (6.7%).
Circa 1999 about 28% of the students were Jewish.
Selected student organizations
The Philomathean Society, founded in 1813, is the United States' oldest continuously existing collegiate literary society and continues to host lectures and intellectual events. The Mask and Wig Club is the oldest all-male musical comedy troupe in the country. The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club, founded in 1862, is one of the oldest continually operating collegiate choruses in the United States. Bruce Montgomery, its best-known and longest-serving director, led the club from 1956 until 2000. The International Affairs Association (IAA) was founded in 1963 as an organization to promote international affairs and diplomacy at Penn and beyond. With over 400 members, it is the largest student-funded organization on campus. The IAA serves as an umbrella organization for various conferences (UPMUNC, ILMUNC and PIRC), as well as a host of other academic and social activities. The Penn Debate Society (PDS), founded in 1984 as the Penn Parliamentary Debate Society, is Penn's debate team, which competes regularly on the American Parliamentary Debate Association and the international British Parliamentary circuit. The PDS has a history of success, consistently fielding debaters ranked in the top 10 nationally and advancing teams to elimination rounds at the World University Debating Championships.
The University of Pennsylvania Band has been a part of student life since 1897. The Penn Band performs at football and basketball games as well as university functions (e.g. commencement and convocation) throughout the year and was the first college band to perform at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Membership fluctuates between 80 and 100 students.
Performing arts organizations
Penn is home to numerous organizations that promote the arts, from dance to spoken word, jazz to stand-up comedy, theatre, a cappella and more. The Performing Arts Council (PAC) oversees 45 student organizations in these areas. The PAC has four subcommittees: A Cappella Council; Dance Arts Council; Singer, Musicians, and Comedians (SMAC); and Theatre Arts Council (TAC-e).
The Dance Arts Council (DAC) comprises 13 organizations, including the African Rhythms, Pan-Asian Dance Troupe and the West Philly Swingers. The Arts House Dance Company is one of the council's most prominent groups. Founded in 1985, the Company is known for its strong technique, innovative student choreography and vivid stage presence.
The A Cappella Council (ACK) is composed of 14 a cappella groups. Penn's a cappella groups entertain audiences with repertoires including pop, rock, R&B, jazz, Hindi, and Chinese songs. ACK is also home to Off The Beat, which has received the most Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards of any collegiate group in the United States and the most features on the Best of College A Cappella albums.
Dating back to 1857, The Christian Association (a.k.a. The CA) is the oldest religious organization at the University and is composed primarily of students from Mainline Protestant backgrounds. When the University moved to its current campus in the 1880s the CA was based out of Houston Hall. After moving around several times it relocated to its new building at 36th and Locust Streets (now the ARCH Building), which it occupied from 1928 until 2000. During its most active period it ran several foreign missions as well as a camp for socio-economically disadvantaged children in Philadelphia. At present the CA occupies part of the parsonage at Tabernacle United Church of Christ.
The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute's Sinai Scholars Society Academic Symposium is a prestigious event that brings together Jewish college students with noted Jewish academics for a day of in-depth discussion and debate at the university.
The Penn Newman Catholic Center (the 'Newman Center') was founded in 1893 with the mission of supporting students, faculty and staff in their religious endeavors. The organization brings prominent Christian figures to campus, including James Martin in September 2015. During the 2015 World Meetings of Families, which included a visit from Pope Francis to Philadelphia, the Newman Center hosted over 900 Penn students and alumni.
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Penn has produced many alumni that have distinguished themselves in the sciences, academia, politics, the military, arts and media.
Fourteen heads of state or government have attended or graduated from Penn, including current president Donald J. Trump, former president William Henry Harrison, who attended the medical school for less than a semester; former Prime Minister of the Philippines Cesar Virata; the first president of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe; the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah; and the current president of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara. Other notable politicians who hold a degree from Penn include India's Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, current ambassador to Russia, former ambassador to China, former 2012 presidential candidate, and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., Mexico's current minister of finance, Ernesto J. Cordero, former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter, and former Pennsylvania governor and DNC Chair Ed Rendell.
The university's presence in the judiciary in and outside of the United States is also notable. It has produced three United States Supreme Court justices, William J. Brennan, Owen J. Roberts and James Wilson, Supreme Court justices of foreign states (e.g., Ronald Wilson of the High Court of Australia and Ayala Procaccia of the Israel Supreme Court), European Court of Human Rights judge Nona Tsotsoria, Irish Court of Appeal justice Gerard Hogan and founders of international law firms, e.g. James Harry Covington (co-founder of Covington & Burling), Martin Lipton (co-founder of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen, & Katz) and George Wharton Pepper (U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and founder of Pepper Hamilton).
Penn alumni also have a strong presence in financial and economic life. Penn has educated several governors of central banks including Yasin Anwar (State Bank of Pakistan), Ignazio Visco (Bank of Italy), Kim Choongsoo (Bank of Korea), Zeti Akhtar Aziz (Central Bank of Malaysia), Pridiyathorn Devakula (Governor, Bank of Thailand, and former Minister of Finance), Farouk El Okdah (Central Bank of Egypt) and Alfonso Prat Gay (Central Bank of Argentina), as well as the director of the United States National Economic Council, Gene Sperling. Founders of technology companies include Ralph J. Roberts (co-founder of Comcast), Elon Musk (co-founder of PayPal, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX), Leonard Bosack (co-founder of Cisco), David Brown (co-founder of Silicon Graphics) and Mark Pincus (founder of Zynga, the company behind Farmville). Other notable businessmen and entrepreneurs who attended or graduated from the University of Pennsylvania include William S. Paley (former president of CBS), Warren Buffett (CEO of Berkshire Hathaway), Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump, Safra Catz (president and CFO of Oracle Corporation), Leonard Lauder (chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder Companies and son of founder Estée Lauder), Steven A. Cohen (founder of SAC Capital Advisors), Robert Kapito (president of BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager) and P. Roy Vagelos (former president and CEO of multinational pharmaceutical company Merck & Co.).
Among other distinguished alumni are the current or past presidents of Harvard University, Drew Gilpin Faust; the University of California, Mark Yudof; and Northwestern University, Morton O. Schapiro; poets William Augustus Muhlenberg, Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, linguist and political theorist Noam Chomsky, architect Louis Kahn, cartoonist Charles Addams, actress Candice Bergen, theatrical producer Harold Prince, counter-terrorism expert and author Richard A. Clarke, pollster and strategist Frank Luntz, attorney Gloria Allred, journalist Joe Klein, fashion designer Tory Burch, recording artist John Legend, football athlete and coach John Heisman, current U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and SEC Chairman Jay Clayton.
Within the ranks of Penn's most historic graduates are also eight signers of the Declaration of Independence and nine signers of the Constitution. These include George Clymer, Francis Hopkinson, Thomas McKean, Robert Morris, William Paca, George Ross, Benjamin Rush, James Wilson, Thomas Fitzsimons, Jared Ingersoll, Rufus King, Thomas Mifflin, Gouverneur Morris and Hugh Williamson.
In total, 30 Penn affiliates have won Nobel Prizes, of whom four are current faculty members and nine are alumni. Penn also counts 115 members of the United States National Academies, 79 members of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, eight National Medal of Science laureates, 108 Sloan Fellows, 30 members of the American Philosophical Society and 170 Guggenheim Fellowships.
From 1930 to 1966, there were 54 documented Rowbottom riots, a student tradition of rioting which included everything from car smashing to panty raids. After 1966, there were five more instances of "Rowbottoms", the latest occurring in 1980.
In 1965, Penn students learned that the university was sponsoring research projects for the United States' chemical and biological weapons program. According to Herman and Rutman, the revelation that "CB Projects Spicerack and Summit were directly connected with U.S. military activities in Southeast Asia", caused students to petition Penn president Gaylord Harnwell to halt the program, citing the project as being "immoral, inhuman, illegal, and unbefitting of an academic institution". Members of the faculty believed that an academic university should not be performing classified research and voted to re-examine the University agency which was responsible for the project on November 4, 1965.
In 1984, the Head Lab at the University of Pennsylvania was raided by members of the Animal Liberation Front. Sixty hours' worth of video footage was stolen from the lab. The video footage was released to PETA who edited the tapes and created the documentary Unnecessary Fuss. As a result of an investigation called by the Office for Protection from Research Risks, the chief veterinarian was fired and the Head Lab was closed.
The school gained notoriety in 1993 for the water buffalo incident in which a student who told a group of black students to "shut up, you water buffalo" was charged with violating the university's racial harassment policy.
In recent years, mental health has become an issue on campus with ten student suicides between the years of 2013 to 2016. The school responded by launching a task force.
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