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Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder, advocated an educational program that focused as much on practical education for commerce and public service as on the classics and theology, though his proposed curriculum was never adopted.
The university coat of arms features a dolphin on the red chief, adopted directly from the Franklin family's own coat of arms.
The first school of medicine in North America (Perelman School of Medicine, 1765), the first collegiate business school (Wharton School, 1881) and the first "student union" building and organization (Houston Hall, 1896) Over its history, the university has also produced many distinguished alumni. Benjamin Franklin was the primary founder, President of the Board of Trustees and a trustee of the Academy and College of Philadelphia, which merged with the University of the State of Pennsylvania to form the University of Pennsylvania in 1791 (Charles Willson Peale, 1785) In 1740, a group of Philadelphians joined together to erect a great preaching hall for the traveling evangelist George Whitefield, who toured the American colonies delivering open air sermons.
The building was designed and built by Edmund Woolley and was the largest building in the city at the time, drawing thousands of people the first time it was preached in.
Franklin assembled a board of trustees from among the leading citizens of Philadelphia, the first such non-sectarian board in America.
The proposed program of study could have become the nation's first modern liberal arts curriculum, although it was never implemented because William Smith (1727-1803), an Anglican priest who became the first provost and other trustees strongly preferred the traditional curriculum.The result was a schism, with Smith continuing to operate an attenuated version of the College of Philadelphia.In 1791, the Legislature issued a new charter, merging the two institutions into a new University of Pennsylvania with twelve men from each institution on the new Board of Trustees.Penn was one of the first academic institutions to follow a multidisciplinary model pioneered by several European universities, concentrating multiple "faculties" (e.g., theology, classics, medicine) into one institution.It was also home to many other educational innovations. Presidents); 25 billionaires – the most of any university in the world at the undergraduate level; three United States Supreme Court justices; over 33 United States Senators, 42 United States Governors and 158 members of the U. House of Representatives; 8 signers of the United States Declaration of Independence; and 12 signers of the United States Constitution.