UPenn – University of Pennsylvania
UPenn is the shortened version of the more formal University of Pennsylvania full name given to the private college located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school that is also commonly referred to simply as Penn is a prestigious school that predates the formation of the United States of America.
UPenn was originally known as the Academy of Philadelphia when the Church of England influenced school first opened its doors in 1740. Being one of the nine oldest institutions of higher learning in North America garners UPN the privilege of being among the select few schools that can claim membership in the group known as the Colonial Colleges. Seven of the nine Colonial Colleges went on to become members of the highly touted academic grouping known as the Ivy League when eight schools officially formed an athletic conference by that name in 1954.
Many schools are named after their founders or significant donors and since a very high profile founder in Benjamin Franklin this was not the case at UPenn which chose to go with a very simplistic and appropriate title. Upenn enthusiasts curious about the etymology of the world Pennsylvania will be interested to know that the word is derived from the name British King Charles II chose for the land he gave William Penn when repaying a debt owed to William's father, Admiral William Penn Sr. The word "Pennsylvania" means Penn's Woods, a name William Penn Jr. was initially uncomfortable with for understandable fear of embarrassment over the allegation that he had named the state after himself. King Charles II refused to change the name and the stubbornness of his 1681 naming decision has drawn centuries with no end in sight.
Being the practical man that he was Benjamin Franklin intended for UPenn to concentrate as much on commerce and business as the arts and theology. While it is now commonplace for highly regarded universities to offer undergraduate programs in specialties like engineering and business this was not always the case. For much of history the purpose of higher education was predominately to educate young ministers on how to best carry on Church intentions. From theological beginning universities evolved to focus on classics such as art and literature. In eras where survival was the top priority for most citizens the privilege of attending college was generally reserved for the very affluent. Members of these elite upper class families were less concerned with their children learning a trade (something often considered unnecessary) but highly interested in their sons becoming gentlemen familiar with Shakespearean verse and Renaissance art. Through his influence at UPenn Ben Franklin played in pivotal role in the direction future institutions of higher learning would take with his practical approach to education.
Today UPenn is one of the largest private universities in America with a student population of well over 30,000. Under graduate students make up two thirds of the total enrollment and participation in an undergrad program that is regularly ranked as one of the top five in the country by the highly accredited US News and World Report publication. With such a highly rated program and a list of noticeable alumni that grows every year Penn is one of the most desirous colleges for prospective freshmen to attend. Consequently it is also afforded the luxury of being one of the most selective universities. University of Pennsylvania alumni include such historical figures as nine signers of the Declaration of Independence and one US President (Harrison-9th president). The group of modern Billionaire alumni includes such well-known names as Donald Trump and Warren Buffett.
While it is difficult to predict the impact of future globalization and internet influence on higher education you do not have to be a scholar to realize that there will never be another school with the rich history and historical influence found at UPenn.