In 1724, Benjamin Franklin traveled to London for the first time. On Nov. 15, Penn welcomed more than 240 Penn alumni, parents, students, and friends living in Franklin’s temporary home to launch the University’s $4.1 billion campaign, The Power of Penn, in London.
President Amy Gutmann told the audience that the number of first-generation students at the University has increased from 1 in 20 in 2004 to 1 in 7 for the Class of 2022. The Pennovation Center, opened in 2016, is home to Fortune 500 companies such as Qualcomm and Johnson & Johnson, as well as start-ups like Avisi Technologies, which was founded in 2018 by a team of President’s Innovation Prize-winners. And Penn’s global impact is felt around the world as well as on campus: Perry World House, which opened in 2016, brings together leaders from around the world for forums, fellowships, and lectures on issues of global importance.
“The Penn team has never been more in swing,” said Gutmann. “We are firing on every cylinder, ready to do even more. We will use The Power of Penn to build an incredible future.”
Joining Gutmann at the event were faculty members who embody the culture of innovation at the University: Anjan Chatterjee, Frank A. and Gwladys H. Elliott Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine; Henry Daniell, interim chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Penn’s School of Dental Medicine; and Kathleen Morrison, Sally and Alvin V. Shoemaker Professor of Anthropology in the School of Arts and Sciences and curator of the Asian Section of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Chatterjee’s research examines the effects of beauty on the brain, whether in the built environment, through art, or as perceived in humans. As director of the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics and a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Chatterjee said in a panel discussion that at Penn, he can “work across campus with anyone, from the dean of the School of Design, to a professor at Wharton” because of the University’s unique, collaborative culture.
The research taking place in Henry Daniell’s lab, based at Pennovation Works, is helping to deliver inexpensive drugs using plant-based medicine to the developing world. This work could only have happened at Penn, he said. “There are pockets of need everywhere … and our scientific solutions transcend national boundaries.”
In addition to her work as curator of the Asian Section of the Penn Museum, Morrison is co-director of an international effort to reconstruct the history of vegetation across the globe for the last 10,000 years. As a recent recruit to Penn, the Museum was a draw, and the intersection of research, education, and public outreach there has been one of the most rewarding aspects of her work.
“Each of the three professors with us tonight embodies Penn’s thriving culture of innovation and intellectual exploration,” Gutmann concluded. “To our faculty, the world’s most pressing challenges are invitations for action. Across Penn’s campus, we are pushing the boundaries of knowledge to benefit people and communities all around the world.”
Photos by Rolf Marriott.