Looking back on the presidential search he headed, trustee chair James S. Riepe W’65 WG’67 recalls how Gutmann’s “strength as a candidate continued to grow as we spent more time with her.” Given Penn’s needs for the next 10 years, “it became more and more clear that, in my view, she was going to be the right person for this next cycle in Penn’s evolution,” he says. “And that we were catching her at the right time in her career cycle—and that’s a very important match.”

Penn Alumni president and trustee Paul Williams W’67, a member of the search committee, recalls that, based on her background and the enthusiasm of her references, Gutmann stood out from the pack from the beginning as an exceptional candidate—an impression that was confirmed and reinforced upon repeated encounters. (He calls the search process “an iterative one, to say the least.”)

“From our first meeting, it was clear that we were talking to an individual who sought the challenge of a complex institution, a large institution in terms of size and intricacy, and an urban institution,” he says, “and that those things together gave the sense that, as she looked at her own career, this could be one of the ultimate challenges that she would aspire to take on.”

With several senior administrative and faculty posts open, Gutmann will be spending significant time this year building her leadership team—a process she started even before her term formally began. “There’s very little that one can do alone that one can’t do better with a great team in place,” she says, “because it just multiplies how much you can accomplish any given day.”

Gutmann’s first hire was her chief of staff, Joann Mitchell, who had been vice provost for administration at Princeton and had worked at Penn from 1986-1993; she also started on July 1. Perhaps not surprisingly—she did, after all, agree to follow her here—Mitchell gives Gutmann high marks as an employer. “She is tremendously supportive, straightforward, and frank,” she says, generous with praise but “not shy when there is an outcome that was less than what she’d hoped for—particularly if she thought you could have done better.”

Having worked at both institutions, Mitchell has a special insight into the differences between Penn and Princeton. Besides Penn’s urban location, larger size, and greater complexity, she points to the University’s “decentralized” structure. Where Princeton has one faculty, Penn’s 12 schools “have a great deal of autonomy,” she says.

Gutmann’s history of forging “respectful collaborative relationships,” which Mitchell calls the “hallmark of her administrative tenures,” will stand her in good stead in managing in this context, she adds. “I don’t think that’s going to as big an obstacle as people might imagine.” Gutmann is also familiar with institutions like Harvard, her alma mater, and Stanford, where she is on the board of its Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, that function along lines similar to Penn’s.

Searches to fill the open positions of executive vice president—held most recently by former U.S. Marines Major General Clifford Stanley, who resigned last October—and the vice president for development and alumni relations—vacant since Virginia Clark left in 2002 and put on hold when President Rodin announced her plan to step down last year—are well under way, with announcements expected this fall. On the faculty side, Dr. Eduardo Glandt GCh’75 Gr’77, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, is chairing the search committee to find a successor for School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel Preston, who will return to teaching in December. A committee to search for a permanent provost will be constituted in the fall to replace Dr. Robert Barchi Gr’72 M’73 GM’73, who left for the presidency of Thomas Jefferson University. As interim provost, this summer Gutmann appointed Dr. Peter Conn, the Andrea Mitchell Professor of English, who before that had served as deputy provost.

Gutmann is also reaching out to alumni. A few days after taking office, she sent an e-mail message to some 93,000 alumni for whom Penn has valid e-mail addresses, inviting comments and suggestions on Penn’s future. Responses have included messages of welcome, personal reminiscences, and plugs for favorite programs, as well as complaints about “wrongheaded policy decisions” and rejected legacy applicants. “People have been very frank,” says Mitchell. “It’s been really valuable.”

And Gutmann will be visiting several cities to meet with alumni personally this fall and spring (see list of locations and dates on page 67).

Based on his experience with her, Paul Williams says, those alumni who encounter this president will find a leader who projects “tremendous energy” and establishes an “immediate personal contact and connection”; is intensely focused; is respectful of all the contributions alumni make, whether of their “precious time” or financial resources; and is “deeply committed to the values of diversity.

“The matter of inclusiveness as an institutional value is going to resonate with the new, emerging generation of Penn alumni,” he adds. “The face of Penn has changed and it will continue to change,” with more international students and more diversity from within the United States as well, “so it’s critical that our programs and our outreach communications reflect that—and Amy will be foremost in expressing those values.”

Gutmann calls Penn’s “very strong and loyal alumni base” one of the University’s great attractions. “I will certainly be interacting a lot with our alumni and also doing the kinds of things that I need to do with our students and our young alumni to cultivate their involvement with Penn and to deserve their loyalty.”

This is in keeping with Gutmann’s abiding belief in the importance of academic community. “The idea of Penn being an extended family is something that is very dear to my heart,” she says. “This will be my family, and I intend to interact a lot with it and do everything I can to cultivate the kind of loyalty that is necessary to make us an even greater institution, and I want to start doing that immediately.”

If not sooner.

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2004 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 08/27/04

Learning & Leading
By John Prendergast
Photography by Candace diCarlo

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