2006 Commitment to Excellence Award Winners
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, the institutions of higher education in the region faced massive devastation and were unable to begin their regular fall semesters. To aid in the relief effort, the University of Pennsylvania sponsored a program for Philadelphia-area students who would have attended a college or university in New Orleans. The University invited these students to apply to Penn to attend as guest students for the fall semester.
A group of staff members from the College of General Studies, the Vice Provost for University Life, the University Communications Division, the School of Arts and Sciences offices, the Chaplain's office, the Graduate Student Center, and the Provost's Office came together to design a process for quickly and effectively reviewing applications, admitting students, and integrating them into our environment in a way that would support their many complex needs.
The required work for this special effort included developing and posting a guest student application form on a website, processing application forms, determining who could attend, advising arriving students about which courses they could take, and making sure they could get into these courses. Some students required off-campus housing and required assistance in finding it. Listserves had to be created for the University to provide a vehicle for regular communication with the new students. Even after all these processes were in place, these committed staff members made a point of doing more than just accept the new students and put them in classes. Many resources were devoted to making the students feel welcome on our campus. For example, the undergraduates were affiliated with one of the College Houses so they could attend social events and meet Penn students, if they chose.
By all accounts the students who enrolled here for the semester were very satisfied with their experience and the treatment they received. This achievement represented Penn at its best. It reflected well on the professionalism and talent of our staff. In acknowledgement of their outstanding commitment to excellence in the face of extraordinary, unprecedented conditions, we are very pleased to award these staff members with Commitment to Excellence recognition.