University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The university claims a founding date of 1740[note 1] and is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered prior to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.[10]

University of Pennsylvania
Latin: Universitas Pennsylvaniensis
Former names
Academy and Charitable School in the Province of Pennsylvania (1751–1755)
College of Philadelphia (1755–1779)
University of the State of Pennsylvania (1779–1791)
MottoLeges sine moribus vanae (Latin)
Motto in English
Laws without morals are useless
TypePrivate research university
EstablishedNovember 14, 1740 (1740-11-14)[note 1]
FounderBenjamin Franklin
Endowment$14.65 billion (2019)[4]
Budget$3.5 billion (2020)[5]
PresidentAmy Gutmann
ProvostWendell Pritchett
Board ChairmanDavid L. Cohen[6]
Academic staff
4,793 (2018)[7]
Students22,432 (Fall 2019)[8]
Undergraduates10,019 (Fall 2019)[8]
Postgraduates12,413 (Fall 2019)[8]
Location, ,
United States
CampusUrban, 1,085 acres (4.39 km2) total:
299 acres (1.21 km2), University City campus;
694 acres (2.81 km2), New Bolton Center;
92 acres (0.37 km2), Morris Arboretum
ColorsPenn Red and Penn Blue[9]
AthleticsNCAA Division I
Ivy League
Philadelphia Big 5
City 6
568 Group

Penn has four undergraduate schools as well as twelve graduate and professional schools. Schools enrolling undergraduates include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Wharton School, and the School of Nursing. Penn's "One University Policy" allows students to enroll in classes in any of Penn's twelve schools.[11] Among its highly ranked graduate and professional schools are a law school whose first professor wrote the first draft of the United States Constitution, the first school of medicine in North America (Perelman School of Medicine, 1765), and the first collegiate business school (Wharton School, 1881).

Penn is also home to the first "student union" building and organization (Houston Hall, 1896), the first Catholic student club in North America (Newman Center, 1893),[12] the first double-decker college football stadium (Franklin Field, 1924 when second deck was constructed),[13][14] and Morris Arboretum, the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first general-purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) was developed at Penn and formally dedicated in 1946. In 2019, the university had an endowment of $14.65 billion, the sixth-largest endowment of all universities in the United States,[4] as well as a research budget of $1.02 billion.[7] The university's athletics program, the Quakers, fields varsity teams in 33 sports as a member of the NCAA Division I Ivy League conference.

As of 2018, distinguished alumni and/or Trustees include three U.S. Supreme Court justices, 32 U.S. senators, 46 U.S. governors, 163 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, eight signers of the Declaration of Independence[15] and seven signers of the U.S. Constitution (four of whom signed both representing two-thirds of the six people who signed both),[16] 24 members of the Continental Congress, 14 foreign heads of state, and two presidents of the United States, including Donald Trump.[17][18][19] As of October 2019, 36 Nobel laureates, 80 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[20] 64 billionaires,[21] 29 Rhodes Scholars,[22] 15 Marshall Scholars,[23] and 16 Pulitzer Prize winners have been affiliated with the university.


Benjamin Franklin was the primary founder, benefactor, President of the Board of Trustees and a trustee of the Academy and College of Philadelphia, which merged with the University of the State of Pennsylvania to form the University of Pennsylvania in 1791 (Joseph Duplessis, c. 1785).
Academy and College of Philadelphia (c. 1780), 4th and Arch Streets, Philadelphia, home of what became the University from 1751 to 1801
"House intended for the President of the United States" from "Birch's Views of Philadelphia" (1800), home of the University of Pennsylvania from 1801 to 1829
Ninth Street Campus (above Chestnut Street) in stereographic image: Medical Hall (left) and College Hall (right), both built 1829–1830

The University of Pennsylvania considers itself the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, though this is contested by Princeton and Columbia Universities.[note 2] 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.[34]

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.[35]:26 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.[35]:30 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".[36] 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 Anglican priest William Smith (1727-1803), who became the first provost, and other trustees strongly preferred the traditional curriculum.[10][37]

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 on 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 on July 13, 1753,[38]:12 by 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.[38]:13 All three schools shared the same board of trustees and were considered to be part of the same institution.[39] The first commencement exercises were held on May 17, 1757.[38]:14

1755 Charter creating the College of Philadelphia
"The Quad" in the Fall, from Fisher-Hassenfeld College House, facing Ware College House

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.[39] 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.[39]

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[40] 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).[41]

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 that 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.[42] 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".[43] 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.[44]

Early campuses

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.[38] 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.

Residential university

Statue of the Reverend George Whitefield at the University of Pennsylvania

From its founding until construction of the Quadrangle Dormitories, which started construction in 1895, the student body did not live in university-owned housing as, with minor exceptions, there was none. Indeed a significant portion of the undergraduate population commuted from Delaware Valley and a large number of students resided in the Philadelphia area.[45] The medical school (with roughly half the students) was a significant exception to this trend as it attracted a more geographically diverse population of students. For example, as of the mid-1850s, over half of the population of the medical school was from the southern part of the United States.[46][47]

By 1931, first-year students were required to live in the quadrangle unless they received official permission to live with their families or other relatives.[46] However, throughout this period and into the early post-World War II period, the university continued to have a large commuting population.[48] As an example, into the late 1940s, two-thirds of Penn women students were commuters.[49]

After World War II, Penn began a capital spending program to overhaul its campus, especially student housing. A large number of students migrating to universities under the GI Bill, and the resultant increase in Penn's student population, highlighted that Penn had outgrown previous expansions, which ended during the Depression-era. Nonetheless, in addition to a significant student population from the Delaware Valley, Penn attracted international students and students from most of the 50 states as early as the 1960s.[50] Referring to the developments of this time period, Penn Trustee Paul Miller remarked, "[t]he bricks-and-mortar Capital Campaign of the Sixties...built the facilities that turned Penn from a commuter school to a residential one...."[51] By 1961, 79% of male undergraduates and 57% of female undergraduates lived on campus.[52]

From 1930 to 1966, there were 54 documented Rowbottom riots, a student tradition of rioting which included everything from car smashing to panty raids.[53] After 1966, there were five more instances of "Rowbottoms", the latest occurring in 1980.[53]

In 1965, Penn students learned that the university was sponsoring research projects for the United States' chemical and biological weapons program.[54] 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".[54] 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.[54]

In 1983, members of the Animal Liberation Front broke into the Head Injury Clinical Research Laboratory in the School of Medicine and stole research audio and video tapes. The stolen tapes were given to PETA who edited the footage to create a film, Unnecessary Fuss. As a result of media coverage and pressure from animal rights activists, the project was closed down.[55]

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.[56]

Educational innovations

College Hall and then Logan Hall viewed from Woodland Ave., c. 1892

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;[57] 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.[58][59] In 1921, Penn was also the first university to award a PhD to an African-American woman, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander (in economics).[60]


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'.[61]


1757 Seal of the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania

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.[62] 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.[63] 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.[62]

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".[62]


Overlooking Lower Quad from Upper Quad

Much of Penn's architecture was designed by the Cope and Stewardson firm (same architects who designed Princeton University and a large part of Washington University in St. Louis) known for having combined the Gothic architecture of the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge with the local landscape to establish the Collegiate Gothic style. The present core campus covers over 299 acres (121 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, bars, a large upscale grocery store, and movie theater on the western edge of campus. 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.[64]

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.[65]

Parks and fitness

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 became 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. 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.

Upper Quad Gate

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.


Fisher Fine Arts Library, also referred to as the Furness Library or simply the Fine Arts Library

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.[7] It subscribes to over 68,000 print serials and e-journals.[66][67]

Penn has the following libraries, associated by 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 to be first library in nation to separate the low ceilings of the library stack, where the books were stored, from forty foot plus high ceilinged rooms, where the books were read and studied [68] and also see Applications for Historical Landmark Status-;[69] Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, located at 420 Walnut Street, near Independence Hall and 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,[70] 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 Yarnall Library of Theology, a major American rare book collection, is part of Penn's libraries. The Yarnall Library of Theology was formerly affiliated with St. Clement's Church in Philadelphia. It was founded in 1911 under the terms of the wills of Ellis Hornor Yarnall (December 23, 1839 - December 18, 1907) and Emily Yarnall, and subsequently housed at the former Philadelphia Divinity School. The library's major areas of focus are theology, patristics, and the liturgy, history and theology of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. It includes a large number of rare books, incunabula, and illuminated manuscripts, and new material continues to be added.[71][72]

Art installations and The Penn Museum

The campus has several notable art installations. The Covenant, better known to the student body as "The Tampons,"[73] 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.

University Museum and Warden Garden

Since the Penn Museum was founded in 1887,[74] it has taken part in 400 research projects worldwide.[75] The museum's first project was an excavation of Nippur, a location in current day Iraq.[76] The museum has three gallery floors with artifacts from Egypt, the Middle East, Mesoamerica, Asia, the Mediterranean, Africa and indigenous artifacts of the Americas.[75] 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.[77] 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, Lauder College House, Riepe, Rodin, Stouffer, and Ware. In 2019, Penn announced the construction of New College House West. The first College House was Van Pelt College House, established in the Fall of 1971. It was later renamed Gregory House.[78] Fisher Hassenfeld, Ware and Riepe together make up one building called "The Quad". A new College House called New College House West is planned to open in the next few years.[79]

Campus police

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.[80]

Academics and interdisciplinary focus

University of Pennsylvania graduate and professional schools[81]
School Year founded
Perelman School of Medicine 1765[82]
School of Engineering and Applied Science 1850[83]
Law School 1850[note 3]
School of Design 1868
School of Dental Medicine 1878[85]
The Wharton School 1881[86]
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 1881[87]
School of Veterinary Medicine 1884[88]
School of Social Policy and Practice 1908
Graduate School of Education 1915
School of Nursing 1935
Annenberg School for Communication 1958

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.


Undergraduate admissions to the University of Pennsylvania is considered by US News to be "most selective". Admissions officials consider a student's GPA to be a very important academic factor, with emphasis on an applicant's high school class rank and letters of recommendation.[89] For the class of 2024, entering in the fall of 2020,[90] the university received 42,205 applications and admitted 8.07 percent of the applicants.[91] 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, veterinary), and Wharton business school.

Fall freshman statistics, by year
2019[92] 2018[93] 2017[94] 2016[95] 2015[96] 2014[97] 2013[98] 2012[99]
Applicants 44,961 44,491 40,413 38,918 37,268 35,866 31,282 31,218
Admits 3,446 3,740 3,757 3,674 3,787 3,718 3,830 3,935
Admit rate 7.66% 8.41% 9.30% 9.44% 10.16% 10.37% 12.24% 12.60%
Enrolled 2,400 2,518 2,456 2,491 2,435 2,425 2,421 2,461
Yield 69.65% 67.33% 65.37% 67.81% 64.30% 65.22% 63.21% 62.54%
SAT range* 1450–1560 1440–1560 1420–1560 2078–2360 2078–2340 2058–2340 2059–2330 2038–2320
ACT range* 33–35 32–35 32–35 32–35 31–34 31–34 30–34 30–34

* SAT and ACT ranges are from the 25th to the 75th percentile

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:

  • 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
  • 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)[100]
  • Accelerated 6-year Law and Medicine Program[101]
  • Digital Media Design (DMD)[102]

Dual-degree programs that 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 the 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. Also, 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 an M.S. in four years. The most recent Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) was 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. University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, commonly known as Penn SP2, is a school of social policy and social work that offers degrees in a variety of subfields, in addition to several dual degree programs and sub-matriculation programs.[103][104][105] Penn SP2's vision is: "The passionate pursuit of social innovation, impact and justice."[106]

Originally named the School of Social Work, SP2 was founded in 1908 and is a graduate school of the University of Pennsylvania. The school specializes in research, education, and policy development in relation to both social and economic issues.[107][108]

The School of Veterinary Medicine offers five dual-degree programs, combining the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (VMD) with a Master of Social Work (MSW), Master of Environmental Studies (MES), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Master of Public Health (MPH) or Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Penn Vet dual-degree programs are meant to support veterinarians planning to engage in interdisciplinary work in the areas of human health, environmental health, and animal health and welfare.[109]

Academic medical center and biomedical research complex

In 2018, the university's nursing school was ranked number one by Quacquarelli Symonds.[110] That year, Quacquarelli Symonds also ranked Penn's school of Veterinary Medicine sixth.[111]

In 2019, the Perelman School of Medicine was named the third-best medical school for research in U.S. News & World Report's 2020 ranking.[112]

Research, innovations and discoveries

Claudia Cohen Hall, formerly Logan Hall, home of the College of Arts and Sciences and former home of the Wharton School and originally, the medical school

Penn is classified as an "R1" doctoral university: "Highest research activity."[113] Its economic impact on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 2015 amounted to $14.3 billion.[114] Penn's research expenditures in the 2018 fiscal year were $1.442 billion, the fourth largest in the U.S.[115] In fiscal year 2019 Penn received $582.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health.[116]

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,[117] the Center for Global Women's Health at the Nursing School,[118] the $13 million Morris Arboretum's Horticulture Center,[119] the $15 million Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at Wharton[120] and the $13 million Translational Research Center at Penn Medicine.[121] 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.[7] 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".[122] These professors hold endowed professorships and joint appointments between Penn's schools.

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).[123] 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.[124]

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.[125] 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 five rankings in these fields.[126]

ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic computer, was born at Penn in 1946.

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).[127] 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.[128] 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[129] 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".[130][131]

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.[132] It was here also where the world's first spelling and grammar checkers were created, as well as the popular COBOL programming language.[132] 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;[133] the Rubella and Hepatitis B vaccines were developed at Penn;[133] 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.[133] 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.[133]

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 and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2010. 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,[134] the Penn effect (the observation that consumer price levels in richer countries are systematically higher than in poorer ones) and the "Wharton Model"[135] 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.[134]

Academic profile and rankings

International partnerships

Students can study abroad for a semester or a year at partner institutions such as the London School of Economics, University of Barcelona, Sciences Po, University of Queensland, University College London, King's College London, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and University of Warwick.


U.S. News & World Report's 2020 rankings place Penn 8th among national universities in the United States[147] and Center for World University Rankings' ("CWUR") 2020/2021 survey also ranks Penn as the 8th best University in the world.[148] The Princeton Review includes Penn in its Dream Colleges list.[149] As reported by USA Today, Penn was ranked 1st in the United States by College Factual for 2015.[150]

In their 2020 edition, Penn was ranked 15th in the world by the QS World University Rankings[151] and in 2019, 17th by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and 12th by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In 2019, it ranked 12th among the universities around the world by SCImago Institutions Rankings.[152] 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.[153] 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.[154]

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.[155] 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.[156] 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,[157] 2008 [158] and 2010 [159] and 9th for 2009.[160]

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).[161]

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.[162] According to a U.S. 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.[163] Forbes ranked Penn 17th, based on a variety of criteria.[164]

Graduate and professional programs

Among its professional schools, the schools of education, business, communication, dentistry, medicine, nursing, and veterinary medicine rank in the top 5 nationally.[165] Penn's Law School, Design school, and its School of Social Policy and Practice are ranked in the top 10 [165] In the 2010 QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, Penn was ranked 2nd in North America.[166]

Student life

Ethnic breakdown of enrollment
Ethnic enrollment,
fall 2018[167]
Number (percentage)
of undergraduates
African American 715 (7.1%)
Native American 12 (0.1%)
Asian American and
Pacific Islander
2,084 (20.7%)
Hispanic and
Latino American
1,044 (10.4%)
White 4,278 (42.6%)
International 1,261 (12.6%)
Two or more races,
460 (4.6%)
Unknown 179 (1.8%)
Total 10,033 (100%)
Psi Upsilon Fraternity a.k.a. The Castle


Of those accepted for admission to the undergraduate Class of 2018, 52 percent are Asian, Hispanic, African-American or Native American.[7] In addition, 53% of current students are women.[7]

Twelve percent of the undergraduate Class of 2018 were international students.[7] 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.[7] The acceptance rate for international students applying for the class of 2018 was 429 out of 6,428 (6.7%).[7]

In the last few decades, Jewish enrollment has been declining. Circa 1999 about 28% of the students were Jewish, a drop of some 40% over 15 years previous.[168] In early 2020, 1,750 Penn undergraduate students were Jewish,[169] which would be approximately 17% of the some 10,000 undergrads for 2019–20.

Penn Face and Behavioral Health

The university's social pressure surrounding academic perfection, extreme competitiveness, and nonguaranteed readmission have created what is known as "Penn Face": students put on a façade of confidence and happiness while enduring mental turmoil.[170][171][172][173][174] Stanford University calls this phenomenon "Duck Syndrome."[173][175] In recent years, mental health has become an issue on campus with ten student suicides between the years of 2013 to 2016.[176] The school responded by launching a task force.[177][178] The most widely covered case of Penn Face has been Madison Holleran.[179][180] In 2018, initiatives were enacted to ameliorate mental health problems, such as requiring sophomores to live on campus and the daily closing of Huntsman Hall at 2:00 a.m.[181][182] The university's suicide rate was the catalyst for a 2018 state bill, introduced by Governor Tom Wolf, to raise Pennsylvania's standards for university suicide prevention.[183] The university's efforts to address mental health on campus came into the national spotlight again in September 2019 when the director of the university's counseling services committed suicide nine months after starting the position.[184]

Selected student organizations

The Philomathean Society, founded in 1813, is one of the United States' oldest collegiate literary societies and continues to host lectures and intellectual events open to the public.[185] The Mask and Wig Club, founded in 1889, is the oldest all-male musical comedy troupe in the country, and Bloomers Comedy, founded in 1978, is the oldest collegiate all-female 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.[186] The International Affairs Association (IAA) was founded in 1963 as an organization to promote international affairs and diplomacy at Penn and beyond.[187] 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 Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (SCUE), founded in 1965, is the education policy branch of the Penn student government, whose sole mission is to improve undergraduate education at Penn.[188] 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.[189] 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.[190] 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.[190] Membership fluctuates between 80 and 100 students.[190]

The PennApps organization at the University of Pennsylvania was created in fall 2009 and hosted the United States' first student-run hackathon "PennApps" in 2008. As of fall 2019, they have hosted 20 iterations of this international hackathon.

Pre-professional organizations

There are a number of career-focused clubs at Penn, especially housed under the Wharton School. Wharton Council regulates these clubs, which include various consulting, investing, and industry-specific clubs. Because of the high demand to be members of these clubs, most clubs have a competitive application process, often with multiple rounds of interviews. The largest undergraduate club in Wharton is the Wharton Undergraduate Finance Club (WUFC), with a general membership of over 2,500 students. WUFC is sponsored by a number of prestigious sponsoring firms, including Goldman Sachs, Silverlake Partners, CitiBank, and others, and WUFC members are heavily recruited by the very firms that sponsor the club.

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.[191] 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.[192] 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.[193]

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.[194] 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.[195]

Religious organizations

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.[196] When the University moved to its current campus in the 1880s the CA was based in 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.[197] At present the CA occupies part of the parsonage at Tabernacle United Church of Christ.[198]

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.[199][200] The Penn branch of Hillel International or Hillel, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, working with thousands of college students globally, reaches over 80% of the roughly 1,750 Jewish undergraduate students and the roughly 1,800 Jewish graduate and professional students on campus with an array of different Jewish opportunities in over 25 different groups utilizing space in the 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) Steinhardt Hall (the largest Hillel building of any college or university in the country[201]), ranging from social justice to Israel to Jewish culture offerings to Jewish religious expression (with services catering to all four of the mainstream branches of Judaism including a kosher dining hall).[169]

The Penn Newman Catholic Center (the Newman Center) was founded in 1893 (and was the first Newman Center in the country) with the mission of supporting students, faculty, and staff in their religious endeavors. The organization brings prominent Christian figures to campus, including Rev. Thomas "Tom" J. Hagan, OSFS, who worked in the Newman Center and founded Haiti-based non-profit Hands Together;[202] and James Martin in September 2015.[203] 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.[203]

The Daily Pennsylvanian

The Daily Pennsylvanian is an independent, student-run newspaper, which has been published daily since it was founded in 1885.[204] The newspaper went unpublished from May 1943 to November 1945 due to World War II.[204] In 1984, the university lost all editorial and financial control of The Daily Pennsylvanian when the newspaper became its own corporation.[204] The Daily Pennsylvanian has won the Pacemaker Award administered by the Associated Collegiate Press multiple times, most recently in 2019.[205][206]


Penn's sports teams are nicknamed the Quakers, but the teams are often also referred to as The Red & Blue. The athletes participate in the Ivy League and Division I (Division I FCS for football) in the NCAA. In recent decades, they often have been league champions in football (14 times from 1982 to 2010) and basketball (22 times from 1970 to 2006). Though the first athletic team at Penn was the cricket team, which formed its first team in 1842, the team did not compete against other colleges until 1864. The rowing or crew team composed of Penn students but not officially representing Penn was formed in 1854 but did not compete against other colleges as official part of Penn until 1879.[207] [208]


In the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th Philadelphia was the center of cricket in the United States. Cricket had gained in popularity among the upper class from their travels abroad and cricket clubs sprung up all across the Eastern Seaboard (even today Philadelphia still has three cricket clubs: the Philadelphia, the Merion and the Germantown). Many East Coast universities and colleges fielded cricket teams with the University of Pennsylvania and Haverford College being two of the best in the country. (Cricket was the first organized sport at Pennsylvania.) The Penn Cricket Team frequently toured Canada and the British Isles and even defeated a combined Oxford-Cambridge team in 1895.[209] Perhaps the University's most famous cricket player was George Patterson who went on to play for the professional Philadelphia Cricket Team. Following the First World War, cricket began to experience a serious decline as baseball became the preferred sport of the warmer months, but to this day the University still fields a cricket team.


Varsity rowers approach Poughkeepsie Bridge on the Hudson River, 1915.

Rowing at Penn dates back to at least 1854 with the founding of the University Barge Club. The university currently hosts both heavyweight and lightweight men's teams and an open weight women's team, all of which compete as part of the Eastern Sprints League. Penn Rowing has produced a long list of famous coaches and Olympians, including Susan Francia, John B. Kelly Jr., Joe Burk, Rusty Callow, Harry Parker and Ted Nash. Also, the 1955 men's heavyweight crew is one of only four American university crews to win the Grand Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta. The teams row out of College Boat Club, No.11 Boathouse Row.


The Penn men's rugby football team is one of the oldest collegiate rugby teams in the United States. Indeed, Penn first fielded a team in mid 1870s playing by rules much closer to the rugby union and Association Football code rules (relative to American football rules, as such American football rules had not yet been invented[210]). Among its earliest games was a game against College of New Jersey (which in 1895 changed its name to Princeton) played in Philadelphia on Saturday, November 11, 1876, which was less than two weeks before Princeton met on November 23, 1876 with Harvard and Columbia to confirm that all their games would be played using the rugby union rules.[211][210] Princeton and Penn played their November 1876 game per a combination of rugby (there were 20 players per side and players were able to touch the ball with their hands) and Association Football codes. The rugby code influence was due, in part, to the fact that some of their students had been educated in English public schools.[212]

Among the prominent alumni to play in a 19th century version of rugby (rules that did not allow forward passes or center snaps) was John Heisman, namesake of the Heisman Trophy and an 1892 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.[213] Heisman was instrumental in the first decade of the 20th century in changing the rules to more closely relate to present rules of American football.[214] One of the captains of Heisman's teams was Harry Arista Mackey, Penn Law Class of 1893[215] (who subsequently served as Mayor of Philadelphia from 1928 to 1932.[216])

In 1906, Rugby per Rugby Union code was reintroduced[217] to Penn by Frank Villeneuve Nicholson (Frank Nicholson (rugby union)) University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (Class of 1910),[218] who in 1904 had captained the Australian national rugby team in its match against England.[219] Penn played per rugby union code rules at least through 1912, contemporaneously with Penn playing American gridiron football. Evidence of such may be found in an October 22, 1910, Daily Pennsylvanian article (quoted below) and a yearbook photo[220] that rugby per rugby union code was played.

Such is the devotion to English rugby football on the part of University of Pennsylvania's students from New Zealand, Australia, and England that they meet on Franklin Field at 7 o'clock every morning and practice the game. The varsity track and football squads monopolize the field to such an extent that the early hours of the morning are the only ones during which the rugby enthusiasts can play. Any time except Friday, Saturday and Sunday, a squad of 25 men may be seen running through the hardest kind of practice after which they may divide into two teams and play a hard game. Once a week, captain CC Walton, ('11), dental, who hails from New Zealand, gives the enthusiastic players a blackboard talk in which he explains the intricacies of the game in detail.[221]

The player-coach of United States Olympic gold-winning rugby team at the 1924 Summer Olympics was Alan Valentine, who played rugby while at Penn (which he attended during 1921/1922 academic year) as he was getting a Master's degree at Wharton.[222]

As early as fall of 1959 Penn men's rugby became permanent due to leadership of Harry "Joe" Edwin Reagan III[223] Penn's College Class of 1962 and Penn Law Class of 1965, who also went onto help create and incorporate (in 1975) and was Treasurer (in 1981) of USA Rugby and Oreste P. "Rusty" D'Arconte Penn's College Class of 1966[224] Thus, with D'Arconte's hustle and Reagan's charisma and organizational skills, a team, which had fielded a side of fifteen intermittently from 1912 through 1960, became permanent.

In spring of 1984[225][226] Penn women's rugby, led by Social Chair Tamara Wayland (College Class of 1985 who subsequently became the women’s representative to and vice president of USA Rugby South from 1996-1998),[227] Club President Marianne Seligson, and Penn Law student Gigi Sohn,[228] began to compete. Penn women's rugby team is coached, as of 2020, by (a) Adam Dick,[229] a 300-level certified coach with over 15 years of rugby coaching experience including being the first coach of the first women's rugby team at the University of Arizona and who was a four year starter at University of Arizona men's first XV rugby team and (b) Philly women's player Kate Hallinan.

Penn's men's rugby team plays in the Ivy Rugby Conference[230] and have finished as runners-up in both 15s and 7s.[231] As of 2011, the club uses the state-of-the-art facilities at Penn Park. The Penn Quakers' rugby team played on national TV at the 2013 Collegiate Rugby Championship, a college rugby tournament that for number of years had been played each June at PPL Park (now known as Subaru Park) in Philadelphia and was broadcast live on NBC. In their inaugural year of participation, the Penn men's rugby team won the Shield Competition, beating local Big Five rival, Temple University, 17–12 in the final. In doing so, they became the first Philadelphia team to beat a non-Philadelphia team in CRC history, with a 14–12 win over the University of Texas in the Shield semifinal.[232]

Penn men's rugby, as of 2020,[233] is coached by Tiger Bax,[234] a former professional rugby player hailing from Cape Town, South Africa, whose playing experience includes stints in the Super Rugby competition with the Stormers (15s) and Mighty Mohicans (7s), as well as with the Gallagher Premiership Rugby side, Saracens[235] and whose coaching experience includes three successful years as coach at Valley Rugby Football Club in Hong Kong; and Tyler May, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, who played rugby at Pennsylvania State University where he was a first XV player for three years.

Players on the 2019 men's team came from 11 different countries: Australia, Botswana, Chile, Great Britain, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, South Africa, and the United States).

Penn's graduate and professional schools also fielded rugby teams. The Penn Law Rugby team (1985 through 1993) counts among its alumni Walter Joseph Jay Clayton, III[236] Penn Law Class of 1993, and chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from May 4, 2017 until December 23, 2020 and Raymond Hulser, former Chief of Public Integrity Section of United States Department of Justice.[237] The Wharton rugby team has competed from 1978 to the present.[238]


Franklin Field, home to football, field hockey, lacrosse and track and field

Penn first fielded a football team against Princeton at the Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia on November 11, 1876.[211]

Penn football made many contributions to the sport in its early days. During the 1890s, Penn's famed coach and alumnus George Washington Woodruff introduced the quarterback kick, a forerunner of the forward pass, as well as the place-kick from scrimmage and the delayed pass. In 1894, 1895, 1897 and 1904, Penn was generally regarded as the national champion of collegiate football.[211] The achievements of two of Penn's outstanding players from that era, John Heisman, a Law School alumnus, and John Outland, a Penn Med alumnus, are remembered each year with the presentation of the Heisman Trophy to the most outstanding college football player of the year, and the Outland Trophy to the most outstanding college football interior lineman of the year.

Also, each year the Bednarik Award is given to college football's best defensive player. Chuck Bednarik (Class of 1949) was a three-time All-American center/linebacker who starred on the 1947 team and is generally regarded as Penn's all-time finest. In addition to Bednarik, the 1947 squad boasted four-time All-American tackle George Savitsky and three-time All-American halfback Skip Minisi. All three standouts were subsequently elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, as was their coach, George Munger (a star running back at Penn in the early 1930s). Bednarik went on to play for 12 years with the Philadelphia Eagles, becoming the NFL's last 60-minute man. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969. During his presidency of the institution from 1948 to 1953, Harold Stassen attempted to recultivate Penn's heyday of big-time college football, but the effort lacked support and was short-lived.

ESPN's College GameDay traveled to Penn to highlight the Harvard-Penn game on November 17, 2002, the first time the popular college football show had visited an Ivy League campus.


The Palestra, "Cathedral of Basketball"

Penn basketball is steeped in tradition. Penn made its only (and the Ivy League's second) Final Four appearance in 1979, where the Quakers lost to Magic Johnson-led Michigan State in Salt Lake City. (Dartmouth twice finished second in the tournament in the 1940s, but that was before the beginning of formal League play.) Penn's team is also a member of the Philadelphia Big 5, along with La Salle, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Villanova. In 2007, the men's team won its third consecutive Ivy League title and then lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Texas A&M.


Franklin Field is where the Quakers play football, field hockey, lacrosse, sprint football and track and field (and formerly baseball, soccer, and rugby). It is the oldest stadium still operating for football games and was the first stadium to sport two tiers. It hosted the first commercially televised football game, was once the home field of the Philadelphia Eagles, and was the site of 18 Army–Navy games between 1899 and 1935.[239]

Today it is also used by Penn students for recreation such as intramural and club sports, including touch football and cricket. Franklin Field hosts the annual collegiate track and field event "the Penn Relays."

Penn's home court, the Palestra, is an arena used for men's and women's basketball teams, volleyball teams, wrestling team and Philadelphia Big Five basketball, as well as high school sporting events. The Palestra has hosted more NCAA Tournament basketball games than any other facility. Penn baseball plays its home games at Meiklejohn Stadium.

The Olympic Boycott Games of 1980 was held at the University of Pennsylvania in response to Moscow's hosting of the 1980 Summer Olympics following the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan. Twenty-nine of the boycotting nations participated in the Boycott Games.

Notable people

Penn has produced many alumni that have distinguished themselves in the sciences, academia, politics, the military, arts and media.[246]

Some fourteen heads of state or government have attended or graduated from Penn, including former president Donald J. Trump;[246] former president William Henry Harrison, who attended the medical school for less than a semester;[247] 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 former minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha,[248] former ambassador and 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, Ayala Procaccia of the Israel Supreme Court, Yvonne Mokgoro, former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa); European Court of Human Rights judge Nona Tsotsoria; Irish Court of Appeal justice Gerard Hogan as well as founders of international law firms.

Penn is also a top feeder school for careers in finance and investment banking on Wall Street[249] and its alumni 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. Other alumni include Warren Buffett [note 4] (CEO of Berkshire Hathaway),[246] Steven A. Cohen (founder of SAC Capital Advisors), and Robert Kapito (president of BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager).

Penn alumni who are 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 J. Brown (co-founder of Silicon Graphics) and Mark Pincus (founder of Zynga, the company behind FarmVille).

Among other distinguished alumni are the current or past presidents of over one hundred universities including Harvard University (Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard's first female president), Cornell University (Martha E. Pollack), Penn (Judith Rodin, first female president in the Ivy League), Princeton University (Harold Dodds), the University of California (Mark Yudof), Carnegie Mellon University (Jared Cohon), and Northwestern University (Morton O. Schapiro).

Penn's alumni also include poets William Augustus Muhlenberg, Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams; linguist and political theorist Noam Chomsky;[246] architect Louis Kahn; cartoonist Charles Addams; actresses Candice Bergen and Elizabeth Banks; journalist Joe Klein; fashion designer Tory Burch, and recording artist John Legend.

Within the ranks of Penn's most historic graduates are also eight signers of the Declaration of Independence[246] 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.

Penn alumni have also had significant impact on the United States military as they include Samuel Nicholas, United States Marine Corps founder, and William A. Newell, whose congressional action formed a predecessor to the current United States Coast Guard,[250](p.1 col.5 – p.2 col.1) in addition to numerous generals or similar rank in the United States Armed Forces, as well as at least four United States Medal of Honor recipients.[251]

As of 2020, there have been 24 Nobel Laureates affiliated (see List of Nobel laureates by university affiliation), with the University of Pennsylvania,[252][246] of whom four are current faculty members and eight are alumni. Penn also educated members of the United States National Academies and the Academy of Arts and Sciences, eight National Medal of Science laureates, numerous Sloan Fellows, several members of the American Philosophical Society and many Guggenheim Fellowships.

Alumni relations and inter-Ivy events

In addition to active alumni chapters globally, in 1989, the university bought a 14-story clubhouse building in New York City from Yale for $15 million[253] to house Penn's largest alumni chapter. After raising a separate $25 million (including $150,000+ donations each from Estee Lauder heirs, Leonard Lauder and Ronald Lauder, Saul Steinberg (businessman), Michael Milken, and Ronald Perelman) and two years of renovation,[254] the Penn Club of New York moved to said current location on NYC's Clubhouse Row[255] directly in front of the Harvard Club of New York, on the same block as the Cornell Club of New York, and a block away from the Yale Club of New York City and Princeton Club of New York for inter-Ivy events. Despite being in New York City, Columbia University shares a clubhouse with the Penn Club. The New York region of the university maintains an office in the Penn Club.

See also


  1. The University officially uses 1740 as its founding date and has since 1899. The ideas and intellectual inspiration for the academic institution stem from 1749, with a pamphlet published by Benjamin Franklin (1705/1706–1790). When Franklin's institution was established, it inhabited a schoolhouse built on November 14, 1740 for another school, which never came to practical fruition.[1] Penn archivist Mark Frazier Lloyd noted, "In 1899, UPenn's Trustees adopted a resolution that established 1740 as the founding date, but good cases may be made for 1749, when Franklin first convened the Trustees, or 1751, when the first classes were taught at the affiliated secondary school for boys, Academy of Philadelphia, or 1755, when Penn obtained its collegiate charter to add a post-secondary institution, the College of Philadelphia."[2] Princeton's library presents another diplomatically-phrased view.[3]
  2. Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution. The College of Philadelphia (later Penn), College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and King's College (later Columbia College, now Columbia University) all originated within a few years of each other. After initially designating 1750 as its founding date, Penn later considered 1749 to be its founding date for more than a century, including alumni observing a centennial celebration in 1849. In 1895, several elite universities in the United States convened in New York City as the "Intercollegiate Commission" at the invitation of John J. McCook, a Union Army officer during the American Civil War and member of Princeton's board of trustees who chaired its Committee on Academic Dress. The primary purpose of the conference was to standardize American academic regalia, which was accomplished through the adoption of the Intercollegiate Code on Academic Costume. This formalized protocol included a provision that henceforth academic processions would place visiting dignitaries and other officials in the order of their institution's founding dates. The following year, Penn's The Alumni Register magazine, published by the General Alumni Society, began a campaign to retroactively revise the University's founding date to 1740, to become older than Princeton, which had been chartered in 1746. Three years later in 1899, Penn's board of trustees acceded to this alumni initiative and officially changed its founding date from 1749 to 1740, affecting its rank in academic processions as well as the informal bragging rights that come with the age-based hierarchy in academia generally. See "Building Penn's Brand" for more details on why Penn did this.[24] Princeton implicitly challenges this rationale,[25] also considering itself to be the nation's fourth-oldest institution of higher learning.[26] To further complicate the comparison, a University of Edinburgh-educated Presbyterian minister from Scotland, named William Tennent and his son Gilbert Tennent operated a "Log College" in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, from 1726 until 1746; some have suggested a connection between it and Princeton because five members of Princeton's first Board of Trustees were affiliated with the "Log College", including Gilbert Tennent, William Tennent, Jr., and Samuel Finley, the latter of whom later became President of Princeton. All twelve members of Princeton's first Board of Trustees were leaders from the "New Side" or "New Light" wing of the Presbyterian Church in the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania areas.[27] This antecedent relationship, when considered a formal lineage with institutional continuity, would justify pushing Princeton's founding date back to 1726, earlier than Penn's 1740. However, Princeton has not done so, and a Princeton historian says that "the facts do not warrant" such an interpretation.[28] Columbia also implicitly challenges Penn's use of either 1750, 1749 or 1740, as it claims to be the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States (after Harvard, William & Mary, Yale and Princeton), based upon its charter date of 1754 and Penn's charter date of 1755.[29] Academic histories of American higher education generally list Penn as fifth or sixth, after Princeton and immediately before or after that of Columbia.[30][31][32] Even Penn's account of its early history agrees that the original secondary school (the Academy of Philadelphia) did not add an institution of higher learning (the College of Philadelphia) until 1755, but university officials continue to make it their practice to assert their fourth-oldest place in academic processions. Other American universities that began as a colonial-era, early version of secondary schools such as St. John's College (founded as "King William's School" in 1696) and the University of Delaware (founded as "the Free Academy" in 1743) choose to march based upon the date they became institutions of higher learning. Penn History Professor Edgar Potts Cheyney was a member of the Penn class of 1883 who played a leading role in the 1896-1899 alumni campaign to change the university's formal founding date. According to Cheyney's later history of the event, the university did indeed consider its founding date to be 1749 for almost a century. However, it was changed with good reason, and primarily due to a publication about the university issued by the U.S. Commissioner of Education written by Francis Newton Thorpe, a fellow alumnus, and colleague in the Penn history department. The year 1740 is the date of the establishment of the first educational trust that the University had taken upon itself. Cheyney states further that "it might be considered a lawyer's date; it is a familiar legal practice in considering the date of any institution to seek out the oldest trust it administers". He also points out that Harvard's founding date is also the year in which the Massachusetts General Court (state legislature) resolved to establish a fund in a year's time for a "School or College". As well, Princeton claims its founding date as 1746, the date of its first charter. However, the exact words of the charter are unknown, the number and names of the trustees in the charter are unknown, and no known original is extant. Except for Columbia University, the majority of the American Colonial Colleges do not have clear-cut dates of foundation [33]
  3. In 1790, the first lecture on law was given by James Wilson; however, a full time program was not offered until 1850.[84]
  4. Buffett studied at Penn for two years before he transferred to the University of Nebraska.


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