Leadership | The police crossing-guard with the power-ballet moves shrieked his whistle and halted a SEPTA bus at the intersection of 36th and Walnut with his trademark flair on February 20. But this was no ordinary midday traffic stop.
Crossing the street was Dr. Amy Gutmann, the Universitys new president-elect, in a jubilant procession through campus led by the Penn Band. Before the drum cadence began, Gutmann had earned a standing ovation at the Inn at Penns Woodlands Ballroom, where the trustees unanimously voted to make her Penns eighth president. She assumes office on July 1, succeeding Dr. Judith Rodin CW66.
Returning the enthusiasm of the crowd at the meeting, Gutmann said, 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 leadershipnot to mention ever more Ivy League basketball, football, and many other Ivy League championships, she added to hopeful applause.
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 the University of Pennsylvania.
In nominating Gutmann, who is currently provost of Princeton, trustee and search committee member Al Shoemaker W60 Hon95 said, Im as excited about the prospects for Penn under Dr. Gutmanns leadership as I was 10 years ago when we nominated Dr. Rodin.
Shoemaker went on to add, No resume can communicate the overwhelming sense of Amy Gutmanns 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 but also that she is uniquely qualified for that task among a field of remarkable and able scholars and leaders.
Shoemaker was seconded by four other trustees who served on the search committee. Dr. Deborah Marrow CW70 Gr78 said Gutmann 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.
Egbert Perry CE76 WG78 GCE79 emphasized Gutmanns strength as an educator and her commitment to undergraduate teaching and programs. She has written about education as the critical ingredient to democracy itself and, as her Princeton Presidents Distinguished Teaching Award attests, she has never wavered in her identification as a teacher, Perry said. As Penns president, he added, Gutmann will strive to ensure that a Penn education is available to every deserving young person, wherever in the world he or she may be.
Noting the strong reputation Penn already enjoys, as well as Gutmanns own commitment to academic excellence, trustees vice-chair Mickey Tarnopol W58 said her election sends a signal to Penns alumni that the stock in their diplomas can only go up. He also identified the president-elect as a top-flight manager [who] will steward Penns resources wisely.
Paul Williams W67, president of Penn Alumni, said Gutmann also recognizes the complexities of the society within which we all live today [and] 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. Under Gutmanns leadership, he added, Penn will continue to encourage civil dialogue on some of the most difficult issues of our times.
After the meeting, Gutmann accompanied by her family, Rodin, and the trusteesprocessed through College Green and into the Perelman Quadrangle, waving to well wishers along the way. (Mixing in with the procession and competing with the bands music were several dozen members of GET-UP, a group seeking graduate-student unionization. See following story.)
The president-elect was further feted at a private luncheon in Houston Hall, which was attended by University administrators, faculty, and staff; Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell C65 Hon00; and Philadelphia Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. During that event she got to practice one important task that every Penn president must master: singing The Red and Blue. S.F.
2004 The Pennsylvania Gazette