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Trustees: Electing a New President

Click here for more coverage from the Trustees Meeting

J. Rodin, J. Riepe, A. Gutmann

Dr. Judith Rodin and Dr. Amy Gutmann share a lighthearted moment at the end of the trustees' meeting, as Chariman Jim Riepe makes them laugh.

Chairman Riepe Outlines the Process...

As the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, we view one of our most critical responsibilities to be the election of Penn's President.  Last June 20th, when Dr. Judith Rodin announced her intention to step down from the Presidency after 10 years of unprecedented achievements, it became especially incumbent upon us to exercise that responsibility in a manner that would provide the best opportunity to sustain the momentum of this last decade. 

A standing trustee resolution authorized the creation of the Consultative Committee for the Election of a President.  The Trustee Executive Committee approved . . . and by early September I convened . . . a Committee of eight trustees, eight faculty members and four students, plus the Chair. Over the next four plus months, this group performed heroic service on behalf of the University. Time after time, Committee members put aside important personal obligations in order to attend meetings, or climb onto a plane or train to participate in interviews. All of this University's constituents owe them a huge debt of gratitude for their efforts.

Our Committee began by conducting a rigorous assessment of Penn's most important priorities, the greatest challenges a new president would likely face, and the characteristics the successful candidate would need to implement those priorities . . . An important part of that process was soliciting additional input:  we held town meetings for students, faculty and staff of the University; we wrote to major public figures in Philadelphia, community leaders, leaders throughout higher education, and alumni leaders . . . We encouraged all alumni to give us their thoughts on Penn's priorities and their suggestions for leadership candidates . . . We made good use of some tools that were not available to us the last time we faced this momentous task. For example, we created a web site, enabling us to both inform and interact with literally a cast of thousands . . .

Then began the fascinating but arduous task of combing through the world of higher education and beyond for the single best-qualified candidate for the job. I want to take a minute to remind you of the results of that initial assessment process in order to underline, as many have done in the past month, the truly wonderful fit between the ideal we sought and the reality of the candidate we are nominating. For Penn's next President, we wanted someone with:                     

  • Demonstrated leadership, and an ability to develop and implement a vision for the future;
  • Credibility as an academic leader, one who values excellence in teaching and research;
  • Strong management and financial oversight skills;
  • Strong fundraising skills;
  • Ability to identify, attract, and retain talented people;
  • Ability to engage diverse constituencies and a commitment to diversity; and, finally,                                   
  • Excellent communication skills.

The search took us from the east coast to the west coast; from academia to government; from Deans to Provosts to sitting Presidents; from our first meeting in September to scores of interviews and meetings.

Yet on the afternoon of January 21, when the Consultative Committee made its recommendation to the Executive Committee of the Trustees, we were unanimous in believing that we had found the single best match with our ideal . . . the best person in higher education today to lead this wonderful institution on to the next stage of its long and very notable history. 

I am delighted to report that the Executive Committee concurred in our assessment and today places before you our candidate for the eighth president of the University of Pennsylvania: Dr. Amy Gutmann. (applause).

-- James Riepe, Chair of the Trustees

I would now like to call on Search Committee member and former Trustee Chair Al Shoemaker to place that nomination before you.

Al Shoemaker Nominates...

Thanks to Jim Riepe (applause).

Mr. Chairman, Amy Gutmann does the great spirit of Benjamin Franklin and his University, Penn, proud. She is a brilliant, creative, and practically oriented political philosopher whose prize-winning publications range across the social sciences, humanities, and the professions, and speak to some of the major issues of our time and all time. She is an inspiring and revered teacher whose many thousands of students include eminent leaders throughout the professions and the world, including some of our own Penn faculty.

She has been a renowned member of the Princeton faculty for 28 years and Provost since 2001, serving as both chief academic officer and chief budget officer. She is the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and was the founding director of the University Center for Human Values. She is a fellow of three highly selective academies: the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Education, and the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She has been awarded the Princeton President's Distinguished Teaching Award and the American Political Science Association's Ralph J. Bunche Award for "the best scholarly work in political science that explores ethnic and cultural pluralism." She served a very successful term as Dean of the Faculty and also Academic Advisor to the President at Princeton. She is a 1971 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard, received a master's degree from the London School of Economics in 1972, and in 1976 earned her doctoral degree in political science from Harvard, which last year awarded her its Centennial Medal for graduate alumni who have made exceptional contributions to society. Just this month, her fourteenth book, Identity in Democracy, was awarded the best scholarly work in government and political science by the American Publishers Association.

But no resume can communicate the overwhelming sense of Amy Gutmann's intelligence, integrity, and personal power that was provided by her colleagues in their references. The top tier of leadership in higher education throughout the country unreservedly believe that Amy not only will take Penn to the next level--while also raising expectations of where that bar should be--but also that she is uniquely qualified for that task among a field of remarkable and able scholars and leaders. Amy is simply a "natural," they say, to lead a great University that unites 12 powerful academic and professional schools--each with a long-held commitment to teaching and research--in a splendid urban campus.

I could not agree more with those comments. I am as excited about the prospects for Penn under Dr. Gutmann's leadership as I was ten years ago when we nominated Dr. Rodin. Therefore, it is my distinct honor and great pleasure to place before you for your consideration the nomination of Dr. Amy Gutmann to be the next President of the University of Pennsylvania. Thank you.

Seconding Remarks

Search Committee member Deborah Marrow seconds the nomination

I would like to remark on Amy Gutmann's outstanding qualities as a leader in higher education. At Princeton University, she has demonstrated strong leadership in various administrative positions including Dean of the Faculty, Academic Advisor to the President, Founder and Director of the University Center for Human Values, and most recently as Provost. Among her many successes in these positions can be counted her record in recruiting top faculty to the university. Other organizations have sought her leadership as well, and she has served as a member of the board and executive committee of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the Advisory Council of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and as President of the American Society of Political and Legal Philosophy among other distinguished appointments. At Princeton and elsewhere, she is greatly admired by her colleagues and by the students she has taught as well as the faculty and administrative staff with whom she has worked.

When Amy Gutmann speaks--whether about democracy, ethics, or identity (big topics that touch us all)--she commands our attention. Like all great leaders, she loves learning, and she is well equipped to deal with a new environment at Penn, whether it concerns the medical center or the role of the University within the city of Philadelphia. She is keenly aware of what she knows and what she does not yet know; she knows what questions to ask and when to ask them; she knows how to assemble an excellent team and how to inspire it and lead it forward. She is now poised to extend her previous record of achievement to a new chapter at Penn. Therefore, I am pleased and honored to second the nomination of Dr. Amy Gutmann as the next President of the University of Pennsylvania.

Search Committee Member Egbert Perry offered another second:

Mr. Chairman, I would like to second the nomination of Dr. Amy Gutmann to be the eighth President of the University of Pennsylvania.

Having had the pleasure of serving on the Search Committee and participating in the process, I noted that Amy is someone about whom a few critical things remained crystal clear throughout the many hours of interviews we had with her and the many, many references we checked.

Firstly, she does everything she does out of a passionate belief in the power of education not only to realize the highest potential of the individual and assure the best-lived life, but to realize the highest potential of our society, to heal hatred and violence and to unite us in a common purpose.

Secondly, she knows first-hand that education is both an entitlement and also a prize to be won, and that we must never cease in our struggle to educate all our sons and daughters to the highest of their and our ability.

Thirdly, as we have heard, she has written about education as the critical ingredient to democracy itself and, as her Princeton President's Distinguished Teaching Award attests, she has never wavered in her identification as a teacher. She also recognizes the importance of undergraduate education in a university, and is committed to excellence in undergraduate teaching and programs.

Finally, as Penn's President, Amy will not only strive to ensure that a Penn education is available to every deserving young person, wherever in the world he or she may be, and to ensure that a Penn education continues to increase in excellence and reputation, but also to serve as a leader for the field, in general, making sure that the value of education is given the rightful place on the public agenda.

For those reasons and many others, I reiterate my second of the nomination of Dr. Guttman to the University's eighth president. (applause).

Search Committee Member Mickey Tarnopol Seconds

Mr. Chairman, a university president must be many things, but above all she must be an intellectual power--someone who can do and teach, someone who has the respect of her own faculty and of the outstanding academics she wants to recruit, uniting them behind her vision for the university. Amy Gutmann's scholarly achievement has been recognized through numerous awards, as well as election to the elite academies mentioned by Al. Speaking as a proud alumnus of this University, I can think of nothing that makes Penn graduates prouder of their degrees than the increasing national and international awareness of the excellence of a Penn education.

I can also think of nothing that will contribute more to increasing Penn's reputation even further, than a leader who personifies academic excellence and has the proven ability to lead world-renowned faculties in pursuit of a clear and compelling educational vision. Penn's election today of Dr. Amy Gutmann to be our next President sends a resounding signal to the University's 240,000 alumni--and the world--that the stock in their diplomas can only go up. The many alumni in this great University who are prominent in the world of business can also take great satisfaction in our electing a new leader who is a top-flight manager and will steward Penn's resources wisely--no less satisfaction than those in academic and intellectual fields who are thrilled by her resume as well.

I am deeply pleased to second the nomination of Dr. Gutmann to be the eighth president of the University of Pennsylvania. (applause)

A second from Search Committee Member and Penn Alumni President Paul Williams:

To start, I want to express my gratitude for participating in the search effort and for the opportunity to address you at this milestone in Penn's history.

Work with the committee was deeply rewarding and I am personally most enthusiastic with the outcome.  

At the press conference to announce the nomination, my committee colleague Barbara Savage eloquently described the process and the common understanding we achieved as we examined Penn's unique strengths, our core values, and our highest aspirations.

 Together, we achieved new levels of common understanding of what Penn is, where it wants to go, and what it seeks in a new leader.  To paraphrase Prof Savage, the committee needed to identify a leader who could do many things but above all one who could recognize that one of Penn's most essential characteristics, one of its greatest strengths (and challenges) is diversity. We would seek a leader who would honor and celebrate those differences and continually reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to diversity.

With Dr. Amy Gutmann, I, along with Professor Savage and fellow committee members, absolutely believe we have found that person. Of equal paramount importance, Dr. Gutmann recognizes the complexities of the society within which we all live today.

And she earnestly believes that the academy represents one of the best forums for open discussion and debate about how to understand and confront those societal challenges.

Free and open speech has a home on our campuses and Penn will continue to encourage civil dialogue on some of the most difficult issues of our times.

I believe we have identified the leader best equipped in both theory and practice to do just that. For these reasons, I am proud, indeed it is an honor, to second Mr. Shoemaker's nomination of Dr. Amy Gutmann to Penn's next President.

Resolution to Consider the Nomination of Dr. Amy Gutmann for President of the University of Pennsylvania

The motion to consider the nomination of Dr. Amy Gutmann for President of the University of Pennsylvania has now been moved and seconded, will all those in favor please say "aye."

 The motion passed unanimously. President-elect Gutmann, let me be the first to congratulate you, said Chairman Riepe.

Dr. Gutmann Accepts:

A. Gutmann

Three years ago, I said that I did not want to be a university president. I stand before you today to reaffirm that I do not want to be a university president. I want to be the eighth President of the University of Pennsylvania. And I thank you so very much for the warm and wonderful welcome that you have bestowed upon me today, and indeed every day since the first moment I met with members of the search committee.

"We love the things we love for what they are," Robert Frost wrote.

You and I love Penn for what it is:

  • A great Ivy League university that unites inspiring teachers with inspired students, regardless of their economic means, race, gender, or creed;
  • A university whose graduates will tackle America's and the world's most pressing challenges, reshape the professions and become societal leaders the world over;
  • A university that generates path-breaking research of enormous practical importance to city, state, nation, and world;
  • A remarkably beautiful campus that is electric with innovative ideas and urban innovations;
  • A culture that combines community service with cosmopolitan diversity, exemplary teamwork with exuberant competition;
  • An educational institution with the admirably audacious ambition to integrate liberal arts with professional education of the highest intellectual and ethical caliber and the broadest societal reach.

The Penn that we love stands, above all, for ever higher levels of excellence and leadership throughout the arts and sciences, medicine, business, law, nursing, dental medicine, veterinary, social work, education, engineering, communication, architecture, design, and fine arts.

It is with your welcome support alongside that of my wonderful family and friends, and it is with gratitude toward the remarkable presidents who came before me, that I pledge to do my utmost to lead this vibrant university to ever greater heights of intellectual excellence, societal, and world leadership--not to mention ever more Ivy League basketball, football and many other Ivy League championships.

And it is with my utmost appreciation, boundless enthusiasm, and limitless commitment to contribute whatever I can...that I accept your invitation to become the eighth president of this great University of Pennsylvania.



  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 23, February 24, 2004