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The University of Pennsylvania (commonly referred to as Penn or UPenn) is an
American private Ivy League research university located in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, United States. 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 original Colonial Colleges.
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. 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.6 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, 1881) and the first student union (Houston Hall, 1896)7 were all born at Penn.
Penn offers a broad range of academic departments, an extensive research enterprise and a number of community outreach and public service programs. It is particularly well known for its medical school, dental school, design school, school of business, law school, communications school, nursing school, veterinary school, its social sciences and humanities programs, as well as its biomedical teaching and research capabilities. Its undergraduate programs are also among the most selective in the country (9.9% acceptance rate).8 One of Penn's most well known academic qualities is its emphasis on interdisciplinary education, which it promotes through numerous joint degree programs, research centers and professorships, a unified campus, and the ability for students to take classes from any of Penn's schools (the "One University Policy").9
All of Penn's schools exhibit very high research activity. Penn is consistently included among the top five research universities in the United States,10 and among the top research universities in the world, for both quality and quantity of research.11 In fiscal year 2011, Penn topped the Ivy League in academic research spending with an $814 million budget, involving some 4,000 faculty, 1,100 postdoctoral fellows and 5,400 support staff/graduate assistants.2 As one of the most active and prolific research institutions, Penn is associated with several important innovations and discoveries in many fields of science and the humanities. Among them are the first general purpose electronic computer (ENIAC), the Rubella and Hepatitis B vaccines, Retin-A, cognitive therapy, conjoint analysis and others.
Penn's academic and research programs are led by a large and highly productive faculty.12 Nine Penn faculty members or graduates have won a Nobel Prize in the last ten years. Over its long history the university has also produced many distinguished alumni. These include twelve heads of state (including one U.S. President), three United States Supreme Court justices, and supreme court justices of other states, founders of technology companies, international law firms, and global financial institutions, university presidents and eighteen living billionaires.
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. It was initially planned to serve as a charity school as well; however, a lack of funds forced plans for the chapel and school to be suspended. In the fall of 1749, eager to create a school to educate future generations, Benjamin Franklin circulated a pamphlet titled "Proposals for the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania," his vision for what he called a "Public Academy of Philadelphia."15 However, 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." Unlike the other Colonial colleges that existed in 1743¡ªHarvard, William and Mary, and Yale¡ªFranklin'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, an Anglican priest who was provost at the time, and other trustees preferred the traditional curriculum.1617
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 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 opened in accordance with the intentions of the original "New Building" donors, although it lasted only a few years. In 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. Download