Strategic Priorities

As Penn’s foremost provider of studen activities, services, and support, the Division of the Vice Provost for University Life enhances the ability of Penn students to reach their fullest potential through diverse academic, personal, and professional development experiences in support of Penn Compact 2022.

To achieve this, we foster a welcoming, stimulating campus life environment where students and participants develop intellectually, experience meaningful co-curricular opportunities, evidence civic responsibility, model intercultural and interpersonal understanding. Penn students will leave prepared to freely pursue life-long personal and professional fulfillment, engagement, and stewardship of ever-changing local and global communities.

VPUL’s Divisional Strategic Priorities:


Annual Report 2019

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    Addressing the evolving needs of our diverse student community

    It is often said that Penn is a community of communities. However, we also have a shared identity that is important to foster and nourish. VPUL programs and resources stimulate shared interactions and connections among students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members. We work to create a shared sense of purpose and community at Penn for our common benefit.

    Our efforts help to enhance the overall Penn experience for current students and community members and forge life-long connections and affinity for Penn, our people, and our educational mission.

    Penn has made a tremendous institutional commitment to increase access to higher education for all talented students. VPUL takes as formative our roles both in helping to provide educational access and supporting the diverse needs of all Penn students and community participants.

    Our mandate is to help ensure that all Penn students and community participants have equal opportunities to fulfill their potential. With partners across the University, we work with Penn, Philadelphia, and the nation’s historically underrepresented populations to promote available campus resources and our interdisciplinary network of support. We strive to ameliorate potential institutional barriers for students and community participants and resolve identified issues and conflicts. We continually look to improve our understanding of the changing campus culture and complexities among our student and community populations. We actively seek ways to more fully appreciate how students and community participants utilize services and resources in VPUL and University-wide to maximize our benefit.

    Fostering innovative practices in University Life

    VPUL must continue to be a national and campus model for proactive, student-centered practices that promote and support student success and fulfillment. Provision of contemporary, efficient, and high quality student resources and programs, from campus and community activities, to academic and professional support, is vital to creating and maintaining a strong and productive learning environment at Penn and central to our professional identity as a University Life division.

    We continually seek to improve our staff capabilities, both interpersonal and technological, and enhance our staff learning resources. We work to bolster strategic partnerships to help align potentially divergent interests and optimize our use of available campus resources, including student partnerships.

    As new and emerging technologies bring new possibilities and transform our work, we must be open and innovative in our approach, taking strategic risks to maximize the value of available technologies, while maintaining the responsiveness and personal touch for students we have always exemplified.

    Enhancing student co-curricular learning and development

    Learning and development happen everywhere. In support of the University’s academic mission, VPUL helps to challenge and support students and community participants to acquire and integrate knowledge across their Penn experiences and connect knowledge to daily life.

    Our pr
    ograms and resources seek to provide meaningful, engaging co-curricular experiences that help to nurture the moral, character, leadership development of students. We strive to model intercultural and interpersonal understanding and help to foster a strong, inclusive learning community. We look to encourage social, cultural, arts, civic, and other co-curricular connections. Our resources help to prepare students for fulfilling, life-long learning and development.

    Advancing student scholarly and career ambitions

    With Penn’s schools and our University partners, VPUL works to strengthen students’ approaches to scholarship and intellectual development, including critical thinking, expression, research, and study skills, and course-based knowledge. We provide wide-ranging accommodations to ensure educational access for all students and help to remove other barriers to academic progress.

    As students enter and move through ever-changing local and global communities, we help students and alumni to define and achieve their career goals and become leaders.

    Encouraging local and global engagement

    By working alongside others to benefit society, our campus community reaffirms what Penn’s founder Benjamin Franklin called “an inclination… to serve mankind, one’s Country, Friends and Family.”

    In support of the Penn Compact, VPUL programs and resources seek to prepare students and community participants for lives of responsible and effective engagement with and stewardship of our local and global communities.

    As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, we nurture critical opportunities to enhance students’ awareness, understanding, inquiry, and action around local and global social issues. We work to foster a campus culture of involvement and actively partner with our local communities to provide meaningful educational and engagement opportunities.

    Creating a culture of evidence-based assessment

    By creating a culture of evidence-based outcomes assessment, we engage all of our staff and stakeholders in an ongoing process of information gathering, analysis, and self-reflection, intended to help us fully appreciate the efficacy of our current efforts and their impacts for students and community participants.

    Regular and systematic evidence-based assessment of our core programs and services helps us to create an environment geared toward continuous improvement and informed decision-making. Effective assessment helps to instruct our future planning and resource allocations. A culture of evidence best enables us to demonstrate our value for stakeholders and to the University enterprise.