When Judith Rodin steps down next month after 10 years as Penn’s president, she will leave behind an enduring legacy of growth and improvement. The timeline highlights landmarks from Dr. Rodin’s presidency, but this is just a sampling. Some of her achievements are strikingly tangible; everywhere on campus we see bricks-and-mortar testaments to her leadership and vision. On a featureless parking lot on Walnut Street, Sansom Common sprang to life, giving Penn a stylish hotel, a first-class bookstore and a parade of stores and restaurants that have improved life on campus and made this part of town a true destination. Many other building projects have been completed, and off campus, Dr. Rodin has worked tirelessly to improve the neighborhood, launching an initiative to make the streets safer, greener and brighter, and actively encouraging Penn staff and faculty to buy and renovate homes in the area. With the opening of the Penn Alexander School, Dr. Rodin made concrete her commitment to improving local public schools.
Dr. Rodin’s gifts to Penn stretch beyond the tangible, too. Yes, she transformed Penn’s academic core and established creative new centers and programs across the University. And yes, the endowment has more than tripled. But more than that, through the breadth of her vision she has given us a new model of what a college president can be. A Penn alum, she came back to her alma mater, bringing dauntless energy and passion to the task of making Penn a major player in the life of the city. She celebrated our urban location and the varied experiences it had to offer. Prospective students felt the excitement and applied in record numbers. She took risks, and they paid off.
For all that she has done, and most of all for making this University a place where we can all feel proud to work, we thank Judith Rodin and wish her well as she sets out on the next chapter of her life and career.
Originally published on May 13, 2004