One of Us: Amy Gutmann

This month, the president of Penn helps bridge the gap (the physical one, at least) between Center City and University City with the completion of Penn Park—the giant public green space at the former parking-lot wasteland at 31st and Walnut. Here, President- Gutmann shares more of her grand hopes for the future, her fears for her students, and a little love for Jon Stewart.

I am … a Jewish-American, first-generation college graduate, president of one of the world’s finest universities, and proud Philadelphian.

I’ve lived in Philadelphia for … seven wonderful years.

The thing I like most about myself is … my ability to see the potential in people and ideas to improve the world.

One thing I’d change about myself is … my sweet tooth.

My fictional hero is … Atticus Finch.

My real-life hero is … my father. He had the courage and farsightedness to get his family out of Nazi Germany.

The best thing I own is … my iPad 2.

The most important thing I ever did was … become a mother.

My favorite room in my house is … my backyard, where I host Penn picnics and celebrations.

A classic book I’ve always meant to read but haven’t gotten around to yet is … Remembrance of Things Past.

My greatest fear is … that the state of our national discourse, coupled with our polarized politics, will turn off young people to careers in public service.

One thing people generally don’t know about me is … I can stand on my head.

The best thing on TV is The Daily Show.

Cheesesteak or roast pork? Sushi.

My greatest regret is … that my parents didn’t live to see me become Penn’s president.

My greatest achievement … is launching Penn’s no-loan financial aid policy for undergraduates, and doing my part to make higher education more accessible for promising young women and men from all backgrounds.

Right now, I’m most excited about … Penn Park. The view of the downtown skyline is one of the best in the city.

I’m so sick of … political rhetoric preventing quality deliberation.

My favorite spot in Philadelphia is … the Palestra on game night.

I say all the time that … people and places should never rest on their laurels.

Kids today … believe in doing well by doing good. They appreciate the values of diversity, collaboration and civic engagement. I have great hopes for the future.

I found the love of my life … in graduate school.

The best song on my iPod is … Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”