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The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence and the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.

As of 2018, distinguished alumni include 14 heads of state, 64 billionaire alumni; 3 United States Supreme Court justices; 33 United States Senators, 44 United States Governors and 159 members of the U.S. House of Representatives; 8 signers of the United States Declaration of Independence; 12 signers of the United States Constitution, 24 members of the Continental Congress, and two presidents of the United States, including the current president, Donald J. Trump. They have also founded a large number of companies worldwide. Other notable alumni include 27 Rhodes Scholars, 15 Marshall Scholarship recipients, 16 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 48 Fulbright Scholars. In addition, some 35 Nobel laureates, 169 Guggenheim Fellows, 80 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and many Fortune 500 CEOs have been affiliated with the university.

The campus has several notable art installations. The "Covenant", better known to the student body as "The Tampons", is a large red structure located on Locust Walk between the high rise residences. It was installed in 1975 and is made of rolled sheets of milled steel. A larger-than-life white button, known as "The Button", is another popular sculpture. It sits at the south entrance of Van Pelt Library and has button holes large enough to stand in. Penn also has a replica of the "Love" sculpture, part of a series created by Robert Indiana. It is a painted aluminum sculpture and was installed in 1998.

Penn's Libraries, with associated school or subject area: Annenberg (School of Communications), located in the Annenberg School; Biddle (Law), located in the Law School; Biomedical, located adjacent to the Robert Wood Johnson Pavilion of the Medical School; Chemistry, located in the 1973 Wing of the Chemistry Building; Dental Medicine; Engineering, located on the second floor of the Towne Building in the Engineering School; Fine Arts, located within the Fisher Fine Arts Library, designed by Frank Furness; Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, located at 420 Walnut Street, near Independence Hall and Washington Square; Lea Library, located within the Van Pelt Library; Lippincott (Wharton School), located on the second floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center; Math/Physics/Astronomy, located on the third floor of David Rittenhouse Laboratory; Museum (Archaeology); Rare Books and Manuscripts; Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center (Humanities and Social Sciences) – location of Weigle Information Commons; Veterinary Medicine, located in Penn Campus and New Bolton Center; and High Density Storage.

The Princeton Review ranks Penn as the 6th most selective school in the United States. For the Class of 2023, entering in the fall of 2019, the University received a record-high 44,960 applications and admitted 7.44 percent of the applicants (5.46% in the regular decision cycle), marking Penn's most selective admissions cycle in the history of the University. The Atlantic also ranked Penn among the 10 most selective schools in the country. At the graduate level, based on admission statistics from U.S. News & World Report, Penn's most selective programs include its law school, the health care schools (medicine, dental medicine, nursing, Social Work and veterinary) and its business school.

The Center for Measuring University Performance places Penn in the first tier of the United States' top research universities (tied with Columbia, MIT and Stanford), based on research expenditures, faculty awards, PhD granted and other academic criteria. Penn was also ranked 18th of all U.S. colleges and universities in terms of R&D expenditures in fiscal year 2013 by the National Science Foundation. The High Impact Universities research performance index ranks Penn 8th in the world, whereas the 2010 Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities (published by the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan) ranks Penn 11th in the world for 2007, 2008 and 2010 and 9th for 2009.

Among its professional schools, the schools of business, communication, dentistry, medicine, nursing, and veterinary medicine rank in the top 5 nationally Penn's Law School is ranked 7th, its Design school is 8th, and its School of Education and School of Social Policy and Practice are ranked in the top 10. In the 2010 QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, Penn was ranked 2nd in North America.

The University of Pennsylvania Band has been a part of student life since 1897. The Penn Band performs at football and basketball games as well as university functions (e.g. commencement and convocation) throughout the year and was the first college band to perform at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Membership fluctuates between 80 and 100 students.

The Penn Newman Catholic Center (the 'Newman Center') was founded in 1893 with the mission of supporting students, faculty and staff in their religious endeavors. The organization brings prominent Christian figures to campus, including James Martin in September 2015. During the 2015 World Meetings of Families, which included a visit from Pope Francis to Philadelphia, the Newman Center hosted over 900 Penn students and alumni.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century and in the early twentieth Philadelphia was the center of cricket in the United States. Cricket had gained in popularity among the upper class from their travels abroad and cricket clubs sprung up all across the Eastern Seaboard (even today Philadelphia still has three cricket clubs´the Philadelphia, the Merion and the Germantown). Many East Coast universities and colleges fielded cricket teams with the University of Pennsylvania and Haverford College being two of the best in the country. (Cricket was the first organized sport at Pennsylvania.) The Penn Cricket Team frequently toured Canada and the British Isles, and even defeated a combined Oxford-Cambridge team in 1895. Perhaps the University's most famous cricket player was George Patterson who went on to play for the professional Philadelphia Cricket Team. Following the First World War, cricket began to experience a serious decline as baseball became the preferred sport of the warmer months, but to this day the University still fields a cricket team.