"If you ask a faculty member at Penn why they are here, they will tell you, ‘the students.’ They just cannot believe how bright the students are. If you ask a student why they are at Penn, they'll say ‘we're here for the faculty.’ And that's the way it should be."
Provost Vincent Price
Standing at the top of their fields, Penn’s 4,645 professors are committed to the educations and daily lives of their undergraduate students. Faculty members enjoy teaching students, joining them in the creation of new knowledge, and even living alongside undergraduates in the College Houses.
Penn professors teach and carry out research across the University, thinking beyond disciplinary boundaries and guiding undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students alike. Wharton professors teach not just MBA and PhD candidates, but also students from all four undergraduate schools. Medical doctors from the hospitals teach freshmen. This exposes Penn professors to a range of ages, ideas, and perspectives, keeping their minds open and their teaching fresh—while allowing undergraduates to learn from some of the world’s most influential voices.
Penn professors are accessible, approachable, and visible on campus—whether delivering 60 Second Lectures on Locust Walk, cheering from the sidelines at sporting events, or sharing in the fun of “cookie nights.”
Penn Integrates Knowledge Faculty
In the words of The Penn Compact, “The most challenging questions and problems of our time cannot be addressed by one discipline or profession. To comprehend our complex world, we must better integrate knowledge from different disciplines and professional perspectives in our research and teaching.”
Penn’s 12 schools put this principle directly into practice. And it comes to life through such campus-wide initiatives as the Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) professors, the work of whom crosses departments, bringing together diverse academic areas in innovative and creative ways.
PIK professors have dual appointments—meaning they are on the faculty of two different Penn schools. Examples include anthropology and filmmaking, medicine and ethics, chemistry and engineering, and epidemiology and health psychology. The result is teaching that better equips students to anticipate, comprehend, and address the world’s multifaceted problems.
Beyond course material, students and professors work together to explore ideas, generate questions, and seek solutions. The unpredictable intellectual dialogue often leads to students developing their own research theses under the close mentorship of professors—or to professors inviting students to assist in their research.
All Penn students have at least one faculty advisor—either someone who is assigned to them or someone with whom they have developed a rapport and a mentoring relationship. Advisors help students build a set of curricular and extracurricular experiences that align with their interests and goals. These relationships, which tend to last long past graduation, are particularly helpful when students are applying to graduate school and need recommendations from someone who not only knows them well, but is inspired to advocate on their behalf.
In each of Penn’s College Houses, at least three tenured professors live among undergraduates as on-site mentors, advisors, and companions. Meals are shared in faculty kitchens, and faculty living rooms are gathering places for group discussion. The resulting culture is a natural extension of the classroom. Selection for Faculty Directors is competitive, and the professors selected are people who truly love daily immersion in a diverse, stimulating residential community.
In addition to their positive contributions to House life, College House Directors and Fellows become better teachers by living among their students and seeing firsthand how they think, communicate, and learn. Lesson plans and pedagogy often evolve in response to their experiences living in the Houses.