University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania (commonly referred to as Penn) is a private research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education[4] in the United States, and is one of several institutions that claims to have been the first university in America. Penn is a member of the Ivy League and is one of the 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.[5] Penn is today one of the largest private universities in the nation, offering a broad range of academic departments, an extensive research enterprise and a number of community outreach and public service programs. Penn is particularly well known for its medical school, dental school, business school, law school, social sciences and humanities programs and its biomedical teaching and research capabilities. Its undergraduate programs are also among the most selective in the country.

In FY2009, Penn’s academic research programs undertook more than $730 million in research, involving some 3,800 faculty, 1,000 postdoctoral fellows and 5,400 support staff/graduate assistants. Much of the funding is provided by the National Institutes of Health for biomedical research. Penn tops the Ivy League in annual spending, with a projected 2009 budget of $5.542 billion.[6] In 2008, it ranked fifth among U.S. universities in fundraising, bringing in about $475.96 million in private support.[7]

Incorporated as The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn is one of 14 founding members of the Association of American Universities.


Benjamin Franklin Statue, in front of College Hall. The light on in the upper left window is from the Philomathean Society, Penn’s first student group.

In 1740, a group of Philadelphians joined together to erect a great preaching hall for the evangelist George Whitefield. Designed and built by Edmund Woolley, it was the largest building in the city and it was also planned to serve as a charity school. The fundraising, however, fell short and although the building was erected, the plans for both a chapel and the charity school were suspended. In the fall of 1749, eager to create a college 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.”[8] However, according to Franklin’s autobiography, it was in 1743 when he first drew up a proposal for establishing the academy, “thinking the Rev. Richard Peters a fit person to superintend such an institution.” Unlike the other Colonial colleges that existed in 1743 — Harvard, William and Mary, and Yale — 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 became the nation’s first modern liberal arts curriculum.[citation needed]

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. On February 1, 1750 the new board took over the building and trusts of the old board. In 1751 the Academy, using the great hall at 4th and Arch Streets, took in its first 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.

Quad in the Fall, facing Ware College House

For its date of founding, the University uses 1740, the date of “the creation of the earliest of the many educational trusts the University has taken upon itself”[9] (the charity school mentioned above) during its existence.

The institution was known as the College of Philadelphia from 1755 to 1779. In 1779, not trusting then-provost the Rev. William Smith’s loyalist tendencies, the revolutionary State Legislature created a University of the State of Pennsylvania.[10] 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 the University of Pennsylvania with twelve men from each institution on the new board of trustees.[11] These three schools were part of the same institution and were overseen by the same board of Trustees.[10]

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 “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.[12]

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.

Heads of the University of Pennsylvania

Provost birth – death Years as provost Name of institution
The Rev. George Whitefield 1714–1770 1740–1746 Church and Charity School of Philadelphia
Benjamin Franklin 1706–1790 1749–1754 Academy of Philadelphia
1 The Rev. William Smith 1727–1803 1754–1779
College of Philadelphia[13]
2 The Rev. John Ewing 1732–1802 1779–1802 University of the State of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania (after 1791)[13]
3 The Rev. John McDowell 1751–1820[14] 1807–1810 University of Pennsylvania
4 The Rev. John Andrews 1746–1813 1810–1813 University of Pennsylvania
5 The Rev. Frederick Beasley 1777–1845 1813–1828 University of Pennsylvania
6 The Rev. William Heathcote DeLancey 1797–1865 1828–1834 University of Pennsylvania
7 The Rev. John Ludlow 1793–1857 1834–1852 University of Pennsylvania
8 The Rev. Henry Vethake 1790–1866 1853–1859 University of Pennsylvania
9 The Rev. Daniel Goodwin 1811–1890 1860–1868 University of Pennsylvania
10 Charles Janeway Stillé 1819–1899 1868–1880 University of Pennsylvania
11 William Pepper 1843–1898 1881–1894 University of Pennsylvania
12 Charles Custis Harrison 1844–1929 1894–1910 University of Pennsylvania
13 Edgar Fahs Smith 1854–1928 1910–1920 University of Pennsylvania
14 Josiah Harmar Penniman 1868–1940 1923–1930[15] University of Pennsylvania
Presidents of the University of Pennsylvania Years as president
1 Thomas Sovereign Gates 1930–1944
2 George William McClelland 1944–1948
3 Harold Edward Stassen 1948–1953
4 William Hagan DuBarry 1953–1953, Acting President
5 Gaylord Harnwell 1953–1970
6 Martin Meyerson 1970–1981
7 Sheldon Hackney 1981–1993
8 Claire Fagin 1993–1994, Interim President
9 Judith Rodin 1994–2004
10 Amy Gutmann 2004–Present

Educational innovations

College Hall and Cohen Hall viewed from Woodland Ave., ca. 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 school of business, in 1881; the first American student union building, Houston Hall, in 1896;[16] 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.[17][18]


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 a wag 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, and 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”).[19]


The official school colors are red with hex value #990000, and blue with hex value #011F5B.[20][21] In printed materials they are PMS 201 red and PMS 288 blue.


Undergraduate schools

The University of Pennsylvania has four undergraduate schools:

Lower Quad in Winter, from Riepe College House

  • College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)
  • School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS)
  • School of Nursing
  • The Wharton School

The College of Arts and Sciences is the undergraduate division of the School of Arts and Sciences, which also contains the Graduate Division and the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, Penn’s division for non-traditional undergraduate and graduate students.

Penn has a strong focus on interdisciplinary learning and research. It offers joint-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, Penn’s fellows in the Quaker Consortium.

Graduate and professional schools

The following schools offer graduate programs:

University of Pennsylvania Dental School

  • Annenberg School for Communication
  • Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
  • Graduate School of Education
  • Law School
  • School of Dental Medicine
  • School of Design (formerly the Graduate School of Fine Arts)
  • School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Social Policy & Practice
  • School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Wharton School

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
  • The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business
  • Nursing and Health Care Management
  • The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management
  • Accelerated 7 year Dental Program

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 a 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. Some students in the Vagelos Scholars Program in Molecular Life Sciences can submatriculate into master’s-level programs in the sciences.

For graduate programs, there are many formalized joint-degree graduate programs such as a joint J.D./MBA. Penn is also the home to interdisciplinary institutions such as the Institute for Medicine and Engineering, the Joseph H. Lauder Institute for Management and International Studies, the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, and the Executive Master’s in Technology Management Program.

Academic medical center and biomedical research complex

Penn’s health-related programs — including the Schools of Nursing, Medicine, Dental Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine, and programs in bioengineering (School of Engineering) and health management (the Wharton School) — are among the university’s strongest academic components. The combination of intellectual breadth, research funding (each of the health sciences schools ranks in the top 5 in annual NIH funding), clinical resources and overall scale ranks Penn with only a small handful of peer universities in the U.S.

The size of Penn’s biomedical research organization, however, 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.

Admissions selectivity

Penn is one of the most selective universities in the United States. For the Class of 2014 entering in the fall of 2010, the University received a record-setting 26,938 applications and admitted 14.2 percent of the applicants, marking Penn’s most selective admissions cycle in the history of the University.[22] Further, Penn consistently ranks among the 10 toughest schools to get into, according to the Princeton Review.[23] The Atlantic also ranked Penn among the 10 most selective schools in the country.

At the graduate level, Penn’s admissions rates, like most universities’, vary considerably based on school and program. Based on admission statistics from U.S. News and World Report, Penn’s most selective programs include its law school, the health care schools (medicine, dental medicine, nursing), and its business school.


University rankings (overall)

ARWU World[24] 15
ARWU National[25] 13
Times Higher Education[26] 12
USNWR National University[27] 4
WM National University[28] 17

U.S. News & World Report ranked Penn #4 (tied with Caltech, MIT and Stanford) for undergraduate education in its 2010 review. Penn is ranked fourth in the Ivy League behind Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.[29] In the past, Penn was ranked #4 by U.S. News in 2005 and #6 in 2009.

In 2008, the British THE-QS World University Rankings (known from 2010 onwards as the QS World University Rankings) magazine ranked Penn 11th in the world and 7th among U.S. universities.[30] In 2007, Penn placed 15th on the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities.[31] The Center for Measuring University Performance ranks Penn in its top cluster of research universities in the nation, tied with Columbia, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford.[32] In 2007, The Washington Monthly ranked Penn 17th overall, and 4th among private institutions (behind Cornell, Stanford, and MIT) on its list of universities’ contributions to national service (Research: total research spending; Ph.D.s granted in science and engineering; Community Service: the number of students in ROTC, Peace Corps, etc.; and social mobility: percentage of, and support for, Pell grant recipients).[33] ranked Penn #83 on their 2009 edition of “America’s Best Colleges.”[34]

University of Pennsylvania’s undergraduate business program at Wharton has retained its #1 ranking in U.S. News for many years.

Claudia Cohen Hall, formerly Logan Hall, home of The College of Arts and Sciences and former home of The Wharton School

Undergraduate programs

Penn’s arts and science programs are all well regarded, with many departments ranked amongst the nation’s top 10. At the undergraduate level, Wharton, Penn’s business school, and Penn’s nursing school have maintained their #1, 2 or 3 rankings since U.S. News began reviewing such programs. 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

Penn’s graduate schools are among the most distinguished schools in their fields. Penn’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is generally regarded as one of the top schools in the nation (see 1995 rankings by the National Research Council). A study updated the NRC rankings and adjusted them for faculty size and also factored out reputational surveys (saying that such surveys were lagging indicators of academic quality). That study, “The Rise of American Research Universities: Elites and Challengers in the Postwar Era,” ranked Penn’s arts, humanities, and sciences departments 7th in the US.

Among its professional schools, the schools of Design, business, communication, dentistry, medicine, nursing, and veterinary medicine rank in the top 5 nationally (see U.S. News, National Research Council, and Planetizen as well as DesignIntelligence’s “America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools”). Penn’s Law School is ranked 7th, and its School of Education and School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) are ranked in the top 10 (see U.S. News).


Overlooking Lower Quad from Upper Quad

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 269 acres (1.09 km2) in a contiguous area of West Philadelphia’s University City district. All of Penn’s schools and most of its r
esearch institutes are located on this campus. Recent improvements to the surrounding neighborhood include the opening of several restaurants, a large upscale grocery store, and a movie theater on the western edge of campus.

In 2007, Penn acquired about 35 acres (140,000 m2) between the campus and the Schuylkill River (the former site of the Philadelphia Civic Center and a nearby 24-acre (97,000 m2) 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. It encompasses the main U.S. Postal Building at 30th and Market Streets (the retail post office at the east end of the building will remain open), the Postal Annex between Chestnut Street and Walnut Street, the Vehicle Maintenance Facility Garage along Chestnut Street and the 14 acres (57,000 m2) of surface parking south of Walnut Street. Over the next decade, the site will become the home to educational, research, biomedical, and mixed-use facilities. Penn also plans new connections between the campus and the city, including a pedestrian bridge.

Upper Quad Gate.

The University also owns the 92-acre (370,000 m2) Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill in northwestern Philadelphia, the official arboretum of the state of Pennsylvania. Penn also owns the 687-acre (2.78 km2) New Bolton Center, the research and large-animal health care center of its Veterinary School. Located near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, 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.


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 Louis Evans. Twelve years later, then-provost William Smith sailed to England to raise additional funds to increase the collection size. More than 250 years later, it has grown into a system of 15 libraries (13 are on the contiguous campus) with 400 FTE employees and a total operating budget of more than $48 million. The library system holds 5.76 million book and serial volumes as well as 4.15 million microform items.[35] It subscribes to over 68,000 print serials and e-journals.[36]

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 (Anthropology)
  • 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
  • High Density Storage

The University Museum

The University Museum was founded in 1887. During the early twentieth century UPM conducted some of the first and most important archaeological and anthropological expeditions to Egypt, Mesopotamia, Africa, East Asia and South America, thus the collection includes a very large number of antiquities from ancient Egypt and the Middle East. Its most famous object is the goat rearing into the branches of a rosette-leafed plant, from the royal tombs of Ur. The museum also has a strong collection of Chinese artifacts. Features of its Beaux-Arts building include a dramatic rotunda and gardens that include Egyptian papyrus. UPM’s scientific division, MASCA, focuses on the application of modern scientific techniques to aid the interpretation of archaeological contexts.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, which is based on Penn’s campus, showcases various art exhibitions throughout the year.


University residences include DuBois College House, Fisher Hassenfeld College House (formerly Woodland), Gregory College House, Harnwell College House, Harrison College House,[37] Hill College House, Kings Court English College House, Riepe College House (formerly Spruce House), Rodin College House (formerly Hamilton College House), Sansom Place East / West, Stouffer College House, and Ware College House. Within the college houses, Penn has nearly forty themed residential programs for students with shared interests such as world cinema or science and technology.

Many of the nearby homes on 40-42nd are often rented by undergraduate students moving off campus after freshman year.

Student life

Locust Walk lit up during the winter season


Demographics for Class of 2013 [38]
Multicultural Background Number Enrolled Percent of Class
American Indian 13 0.5%
Asian 642 25.9%
Black 206 8.3%
Caucasian 1422 57.4%
Hispanic 194 7.8%

Of those accepted for admission to the Class of 2013, 39.2 percent are Asian, Hispanic, African, or Native American. Women comprise 51.3 percent of all students currently enrolled.

More than 13% of the first year class are international students. Of the international students accepted to the Class of 2008, 48.1% were from Asia; 15.8% were from Africa and the Middle East; 14.1% were from Europe; 11.7% were from Canada and Mexico; 10% were from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; 0.4% were from Australia and the Pacific Islands. A total of 2,440 international students applied for admission to Penn’s undergraduate schools for the Class of 2008, and 489 (20%) were accepted.

Selected student organizations

The Philomathean Society, founded in 1813, is the United States’ oldest continuously-active literary society. The student-run TV station UTV13 is the oldest college TV station in the country. 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. Its best-known and longest-serving director was Bruce Montgomery, who led the club from 1956 until 2000.

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. commencementconvocation) throughout the year. It has a current membership of approximately 80 students. “The Red and the Blue” and “Fight On Pennsylvania” are notable songs commonly played and sung at university events and games. and

The Castle Fraternity

Selected Penn publications

  • CUREJ – College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal
  • The Daily Pennsylvanian – Penn’s independent, student-run newspaper; published since 1885; regularly wins Pacemaker and CSPA Gold Circle awards
  • First Call Magazine – Penn’s undergraduate magazine
  • F-word: A Collection of Feminist Voices – a literary magazine about feminism, gender, and sexuality
  • Knowledge@Wharton – online business journal of the Wharton School
  • Penn Asian Review – journal related to all regions of Asia
  • Penn History Review – undergraduate history journal
  • Penn Triangle – science and technology magazine founded in 1899; oldest of Penn’s student-run journals; a student-run SEAS publication
  • PennScience – undergraduate science research journal
  • Pennsylvania Punch Bowl – Penn’s humor magazine, founded in 1889; one of the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed humor magazines
  • PoliComm – journal of political communication
  • Res – undergraduate journal of research writing
  • Penn Political Review Magazine – Penn’s primary outlet for student sociopolitical thought
  • Sound Politicks – undergraduate political science journal
  • Under The Button – online blog written by staff of the Daily Pennsylvanian and 34th Street magazine
  • The WALK – fashion magazine with bi-semester print publications, currently launching a website

Religious life

Penn prides itself on being a secular university, although it does maintain adequate resources for religious students. Its Office of the Chaplain hosts three staff members including a chaplain and vice chaplain, in addition to a part-time Muslim spiritual leader. The Penn Religious Communities Council (PRCC), which consists of 25 religious leaders at Penn (none of whom are directly sponsored by the university), meets once a month with the chaplains to discuss issues and events pertinent to religious life. Programs in Religious, Interfaith, and Spirituality Matters (PRISM) serves as the representative of all undergraduate faith organizations to the university and facilitates interfaith dialogue, cooperation, and events.

There are seven religious groups with over 100 members on campus: Hillel for Jewish students, Newman Center for Catholics, Muslim Students Association (MSA), Hindu Student Coalition/Young Jains of America (HSC/YJA), Penn Students for Christ (PSC) for Protestants, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (PennIV), and the Christian Association (CA). Hillel and the Newman Center have independently owned buildings on or near campus, while some of the smaller groups work out of the Religious Activity Commons (RAC) on Locust Walk.


Athletic logo

Penn’s sports teams are nicknamed the Quaker
s. They 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 (12 times from 1982 to 2003) and basketball (22 times from 1970 to 2006). The first athletic team at Penn was its cricket team.[39]


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 mens teams and an openweight women’s team, all of which compete as part of the Eastern Sprints League. In addition to several world class and legendary crews through the years, Penn Rowing has both enjoyed and produced a long list of world famous coaches and olympians, including John B. Kelly, Jr., Joe Burk, Rusty Callow, Harry Parker, and Ted Nash. The teams row out of College Boat Club, #11 Boathouse Row. The program is currently under the direction of mens head coach Greg Myhr.


The Penn Men’s Rugby Football Club is recognized as the one of the oldest collegiate rugby teams in America. The earliest documentation of its existence comes from the Daily Pennsylvanian, October 22, 1910: “Penn’s Rugby Team Students Practice on Franklin Field at 7 o’clock am”:

“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…” – Daily Pennsylvanian, 10/22/1910

The team existed on and off during the World Wars, with the current club having it roots in the 1960s. While the current team no longer rises so early in the morning for practice, the tradition of hard work and enthusiasm developed by CC Walton lives on.

The club continues to strive for the highest level of play, while also enjoying the camaraderie and social aspects of the game. In 1992, Penn won the Ivy League Championship, defeating Dartmouth in the final.[40] In 2004, Penn Men’s Rugby won the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union championship.


Penn first fielded a football team against Princeton at the Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia on November 11, 1876.[41]

Franklin Field

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 the national champion of collegiate football.[42] The achievements of two of Penn’s outstanding players from that era — John Heisman and John Outland — 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.

In addition, 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 ’47 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 ’30s). 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 wh
ere the Quakers play football, field hockey, lacrosse, sprint football, and track and field (and formerly soccer). 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 early Army – Navy games. 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 were 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.


The university has come under fire several times in recent years for free speech issues, such as in the water buffalo incident of 1993, when a student was charged for violating Penn’s racial harassment policy. In spite of this, Penn is one of only two Ivy League universities (the other being Dartmouth College) to receive the highest possible free speech rating from the watchdog group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, founded by noted Penn professor and civil libertarian Alan Charles Kors. Penn also maintains the Student Committee on Open Expression, which monitors and deliberates over issues of free speech between campus groups.

Notable people

This statue of Benjamin Franklin donated by Justus C. Strawbridge to the City of Philadelphia in 1899 now sits in front of College Hall[43]

Notable University of Pennsylvania alumni include 9 signers of the Declaration of Independence: George Clymer, Benjamin Franklin, Francis Hopkinson, Thomas McKean, Robert Morris, William Paca, George Ross, Benjamin Rush, and James Wilson; 11 signers of the Constitution: George Clymer, Thomas Fitzsimons, Benjamin Franklin, Jared Ingersoll, Rufus King, Thomas Mifflin, Gouverneur Morris, Robert Morris, George Washington, Hugh Williamson, and James Wilson; 3 United States Supreme Court justices: William J. Brennan, Jr., Owen Roberts, and James Wilson; and 1 president of the United States: William Henry Harrison.[44] Other notable Penn alumni include entrepreneurs Warren Buffett[45] and Donald Trump, poets Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, linguist and political theorist Noam Chomsky, and various Nobel laureates. 23 Penn affiliates have won Nobel Prizes, of whom 4 are current faculty members and 6 are alumni.

Penn in popular culture


  • A character in The Lovely Bones, Ray Singh, attends Penn. He is a freshman at Hill House dormitory.
  • Dave Eggers’s suicidal childhood friend Tom from the novel A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius attends Penn.
  • Much of Jonathan Franzen’s novel, The Corrections, takes place in Philadelphia and mentions Penn a number of times. Gary Lambert, one of the main characters, attends Penn as an undergraduate.
  • Sudha, a character in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth is a Penn graduate.
  • A character in Lorrie Moore’s short story collection, Self-Help, is a Penn alumna.
  • The main character’s sex fantasy in Jennifer Weiner’s novel, Good in Bed, involves a Penn film professor.
  • Tom Wolfe’s novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, is based in part on the particular collegiate subculture found at Penn. Wolfe researched the novel by talking to students from Penn, and even attended a party at one of Penn’s fraternities.[46]
  • In John Grisham’s novel, The Associate, the main character, Kyle McAvoy, was accepted to Penn Law and a different character, Tim Reynolds, is a graduate of Penn Law.


  • In the 1981 Academy Award-winning film On Golden Pond, the character Norman Thayer, Jr. (portrayed by Henry Fonda) is a retired professor from Penn — at one point he is shown perusing the campus newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian.
  • A number of scenes from the 1993 Academy Award-winning film Philadelphia were filmed inside the Fisher Fine Arts Library, which doubles as the law school library for the movie. Tom Hanks’ character, Andrew Beckett, is also an alumnus of Penn Law.
  • A number of scenes in M. Night Shyamalan’s 2000 film Unbreakable starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis feature the exterior of Franklin Field.
  • In the 2000 film The Skulls, one of the crew teams during the boat race at the beginning of the movie is from Penn.
  • In the 2003 film Mona Lisa Smile, Tommy (Topher Grace) is scheduled to attend graduate school at Penn.
  • In the 2004 Bollywood film Swades, Mohan (Shahrukh Khan) was a student at Penn.
  • In the 2004 film The Village, William Hurt’s character is a professor of American History at Penn.
  • In the 2006 film Invincible starring Mark Wahlberg, Franklin Field acts as a substitute for the now razed Veterans Stadium.
  • In the 2008 film Baby Mama, Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler) gives birth at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
  • In the 2009 film Dare, Alexa (Emmy Rossum) is accepted by Penn, and decides to attend after initially considering deferring to move to New York.
  • In the 2009 film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a number of scenes were filmed in the freshman Quad as well as in front of and inside The Castle, a fraternity house and a prominent example of Collegiate Gothic architecture.


  • The famous mansion in the cartoon series The Addams Family is modeled on the College Hall. Cartoonist and Penn alumnus Charles Addams is said to have used the building as his inspiration for the mansion of the Addams Family.[47]
  • In the TV series Thirtysomething, Gary Shepherd is denied tenure at Penn.
  • Penn is often mentioned in the NBC drama American Dreams. Two of the main characters, Sam and Beth, attend the school. In the second and third seasons, several of the recreations take place at The Lair, a Penn campus coffee house/student union facility.
  • In an episode of the The Cosby Show titled “Off to the Races,” Cliff Huxtable competes in the Penn Relays and is beaten by Olympic runner Valerie Brisco-Hooks. Many portions of the episode were filmed at Franklin Field.
  • Several It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes were filmed at Penn, with the characters Dennis and Dee having attended university there.
  • In an episode of The Office, Dwight Schrute mentions the Penn football game in order to upset Andy Bernard, a Cornell alumnus.
  • In the television series Queer as Folk, Ted Schmidt often references the fact that he is a graduate of the Wharton School.
  • Penn is mentioned in the series Law and Order (episode: “Castoff”) as the alma mater of an Ivy League murder victim.
  • On the ABC show Brothers and Sisters, the character Sarah Walker, the president of Ojai Foods, is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • A 2007 episode of the Food Network’s “Dinner Impossible” titled “Rush Dinner: Frat House Impossible” features The Castle (Psi Upsilon) fraternity brothers doing their part to create a feast for Penn President Amy Gutmann and 65 guests that includes Philadelphia’s best-known chefs and restaurateurs.
  • Penn’s campus acts as a backdrop to the Food Network’s “Unwrapped” episode from 2008 that is titled “Cozy Cuisine.” Host Marc Summers is seen in front of College Hall and Psi Upsilon as well as on Locust Walk.
  • Weeklong series of The Colbert Report was filmed at Penn during the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary in 2008. It was taped in the Zellerbach Theatre in the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts.[48]
  • In Private Practice, Season 2 Episode 5 “Let It Go,” a guest character, Nick, states that he wants to attend Penn.[49]
  • A character in several episodes of The Simpsons, Lindsey Naegle, is a graduate of the Wharton School.[50]
  • In an episode of Castle called “The Fifth Bullet,” the character Jeremy Preswick, a man stricken with amnesia after an alleged mugging incident, is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


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