Amy Gutmann
President, UPenn; Political Theorist
05:18

Re: Who are we?

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We should never kid ourselves that we're more than specks in the universe.

Amy Gutmann

Dr. Amy Gutmann became the eighth president of the University of Pennsylvania on July 1, 2004.  In her inaugural address, Gutmann launched the Penn Compact, her vision for making Penn a global leader in teaching, research, and professional practice, as well as a dynamic agent of social, economic, and civic progress.  The Compact focuses on increasing access for the most talented students regardless of socioeconomic background, recruiting and retaining eminent faculty who integrate knowledge across multiple disciplines, and making Penn a more powerful transformational force locally, nationally, and around the globe.  In October 2007, Gutmann officially launched “Making History: The Campaign for Penn,” a five-year, $3.5 billion fundraising effort to support the University’s priorities of expanding undergraduate, graduate, and financial aid, strengthening faculty endowment, and creating the optimal environment for teaching, research, and student living.  “Making History” is by far the largest fundraising effort in Penn’s history.

Gutmann serves on the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Corporation and the Vanguard Corporation, and on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center.  In 2005, she was appointed to the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, a committee that advises the FBI on national security issues relating to academia.  Gutmann is a member of the Global University Leaders Forum (GULF), which convenes at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and is a member of the Asia Society’s Task Force on U.S. policy toward India.   She also is among the leaders of a select group of presidents of research universities throughout the world who advise the U.N. Secretary General on a range of global issues, including academic freedom, mass migration, international development, and the social responsibilities of universities.

Transcript

Amy Gutmann: So the forces that have shaped where we are today as humans go way beyond us and our intelligence. Anyone who sees the forces today at work in the world – whether they be global warming, or the tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina – has to recognize that we are but specks in the universe. That said, anyone who looks at global warming or tsunami or Hurricane Katrina has to realize that those weren’t purely natural disasters. Take Hurricane Katrina. We could have prevented that. We human beings, as small as we are in the universe . . . in our universe . . . in our part of the universe, we could’ve made a difference. Take global warming. I hope we will make a difference. That’s why as President of the University of Pennsylvania, I’ve committed ourselves to having a plan in a couple of years’ time to become carbon neutral, and that we’re . . . 30% of our energy is wind power. So the forces are enormous in the universe. And scientists as well as humanists are hard at work understanding them. And we should never kid ourselves that we’re more than specks in the universe. But we should never let down ourselves in not doing what we can do to make a difference.

 

 


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