History of the Presidency

Biographical sketches of Penn Presidents (including Acting and Interim Presidents) and historically significant aspects of University history during each administration.

Amy Gutmann, President (2004-Present)

Judith Rodin, President (1994-2004)

Claire Muriel Mintzer Fagin, Interim President (1993-1994)

Francis Sheldon Hackney, President (1981-1993)

Martin Meyerson, President (1970-1981)

Gaylord Probasco Harnwell, President (1953-1970)

William Hagan DuBarry, Acting President, (1950-51, 1952, and 1953)

Harold Edward Stassen, President (1948-1953)

George William McClelland, President (1944-1948)

Thomas Sovereign Gates, President (1930-1944)

University Leaders Pre-dating the Modern Presidency


Amy Gutmann, President (2004-present)

President Amy Gutmann

(updated January 10, 2014)
Born 1949, in Brooklyn, New York

B.A. Harvard-Radcliffe College, 1971
M.Sc. London School of Economics, 1972
Ph.D. Harvard University, 1976

  • Provost Princeton University, 2001-2004
  • Director, The University Center for Human Values, Princeton University, 1990-1995, 1998-2001
  • President, American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, 2001-2004
  • Academic Advisor to the President, Princeton University, 1997-98
  • Dean of the Faculty, Princeton University, 1995-97
  • Director, The Program in Ethics and Public Affairs, Princeton University, 1990-1995, 1997-2000
  • Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University, 1990-2004
  • Director, The Program in Political Philosophy, Princeton University, 1987-89
  • Director of Graduate Studies, Princeton University, Politics Department, 1986-88
  • Professor of Politics, Princeton University, l987- ; Associate Professor, 1981-86; and Assistant Professor, 1976-81

University history (to date) during the Gutmann administration:

  • 2004: Amy Gutmann announces The Penn Compact at her inauguration. The Compact encompasses Gutmann’s strategic vision to propel the University of Pennsylvania from excellence to eminence in its core endeavors of teaching, research, and service. Three core principles inform the Compact: increasing access, integrating knowledge, and engaging locally and globally.
  • 2005: Penn Integrates Knowledge Initiative launched with $10 million anonymous gift. The PIK initiative recruits and cultivates the most eminent scholars who are experts in integrating knowledge between and among disciplines.
  • 2005: School of Social Work renamed School of Social Policy and Practice.
  • 2006: Penn Connects, the University’s 30-year development plan to expand the campus eastward and connect Penn with the center city of Philadelphia, is announced. Penn’s campus master plan, Penn Connects, has added nearly 4 million square feet of space to campus since 2006 while increasing open space on campus by 25 percent.
  • 2006: Penn’s all-grant undergraduate financial aid program is announced and fully phased in over three years. As of Fall 2009, all undergraduate students who are eligible can graduate loan-free from Penn. The program is the largest financial aid investment in Penn’s history.
  • 2007: Penn’s completes purchase of 24 acres of postal lands adjacent to the Schuylkill.
  • 2007: $3.5 billion “Making History” campaign launched.
  • 2007: Institute for Regenerative Medicine created.
  • 2008: Joyce Meng receives Rhodes Scholarship.
  • 2008: Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine opens at Penn Medicine.
  • 2009: University breaks ground on Penn Park, which will increase the University’s green space by 20 percent and develop the lands adjacent to the Schuylkill River.
  • 2009: President Barack Obama appoints Gutmann Chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.
  • 2011: Penn Park opens, connecting Penn’s campus to Center City Philadelphia and surrounding neighborhoods. The next year, Design Philadelphia calls it an “urban sanctuary” and gives it the Design Champion Award.
  • 2011: Penn acquires 23 acres on the South Bank of the Schuylkill River to be developed by the University, in part to strengthen Penn’s technology transfer and faculty innovation efforts.
  • 2011: The Smilow Center for Translational Research Center opens.
  • 2012: Golkin Hall opens, a state-of-the-art building that completes Penn Law’s integrated campus and embodies its distinctive vision for an interdisciplinary legal education. The Hon. Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, participated in the dedication.
  • 2012: Shoemaker Green opens. The 2.75 acre green is adjacent to Penn Park in the center of campus and was designed to help reduce runoff and improve water quality.
  • 2013: Penn completes its largest, most successful fundraising effort in the University’s history, raising $4.3 billion through the Making History campaign. The campaign’s original goal of $3.5 billion is hit 16 months ahead of schedule.
  • 2013: Gutmann introduces the Penn Compact 2020, which will maximize Penn's inclusion, innovation and impact with bold next steps to increase access to Penn's exceptional intellectual resources; integrate knowledge across academic disciplines with a strong emphasis on innovation; and engage locally, nationally, and globally to bring the benefits of Penn's research, teaching, and service to individuals and communities at home and around the world.
  • 2013: Krishna P. Singh Nanotechnology Center opens, becoming the region’s premier facility for advanced research, education, and innovative public/private partnerships in nanotechnology. The 78,000 square-foot facility serves as Penn’s focal point for groundbreaking work in nanotechnology.

Judith Rodin, President (1994-2004)

President Judith Rodin

Born 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1966
Ph.D. in Psychology, Columbia University, 1970

  • Assistant Professor of Psychology, New York University, 1970-1972
  • Associate Professor of Psychology, Yale University, 1973-1978
  • Professor of Psychology and Director of Graduate Studies, Yale University, 1978-1984
  • Philip R. Allen Professor of Psychology, Medicine, and Psychiatry, Yale University, 1984-1994
  • Chair, Department of Psychology, Yale University, 1989-1991
  • Dean, Graduate School, Yale University, 1991-1992
  • Provost, Yale University, 1992-1994
  • First permanent female president of an Ivy League University
  • Penn honorary degree 2004 - Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
  • President Emerita, 2004-present

Key accomplishments during President Rodin’s tenure:

  • 1994: The University launched the West Philadelphia Initiative, which sought to fundamentally improve the West Philadelphia neighborhood economy through a major financial and administrative University commitment.
  • 1994: The 21st Century Project for the Undergraduate Experience led to dramatic improvements in undergraduate life at Penn, including the creation of a comprehensive College House system of 11 College Houses.
  • 1995: The Agenda for Excellence, the University’s strategic plan for 1995-2000: named undergraduate education as a central area for improvement, along with graduate and professional education.
  • 1997: The University City District (UCD), a special-services district funded by West Philadelphia's major institutional employers, was established to improve the quality of life in the 2.2 square mile area of West Philadelphia in close proximity to the University.
  • 1998: Opening of Sansom Common, a large mixed-use development, including a new Penn Bookstore, the Inn at Penn, three restaurants, and a variety of retail establishments which created a destination location for the University and the broader community.
  • 1998: Creation of the Penn Alexander School.  Penn partnered with the School District of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to open a new, University-assisted Pre-K-through-8 public school in the heart of University City, with innovative learning environments and smaller class sizes.
  • 2000: Penn Professor of Chemistry Alan MacDiarmid wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
  • 2001: Creation of Penn Medicine.  Penn Medicine was established in November 2001 by the Trustees of the University as the single governing body, reporting to the University Board of Trustees, for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the School of Medicine, under the leadership of a single Executive Vice President of the University for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine.
  • 2002: Penn Physicist Raymond Davies Jr. wins the Nobel Prize for his work in neutrinos.
  • 2002: The David Pottruck Health & Fitness Center opens.
  • 2003:  A new strategic plan, Building on Excellence: The Leadership Agenda, was adopted.
  • 2004: Melvin J. and Claire Levine Hall, a new computer and information science building for the School of Engineering and Applied Science, opens.

Claire Muriel Mintzer Fagin, Interim President (1993-1994)

Interim President Claire Fagin

Born 1926 in New York, New York

B.S., School of Nursing, Wagner College, 1948
M.A., Teacher's College, Columbia University, 1951
Ph.D., New York University, 1964
Hon. LL.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1994
(12 other honorary degrees)

  • Associate Professor of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing and Director of the Graduate Program in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, New York University, New York City, 1965-1969
  • Fellow, American Academy of Nursing, 1975
  • Professor and Chair, Department of Nursing, Herbert H. Lehman College, City University of New York, 1969-1977; Director, Health Professions Institute, Lehman College and the Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center, 1975-1977
  • Margaret Bond Simon Dean, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, 1977-1992 (when left deanship school named #1 by US News and World Report)
  • Leadership Professor of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, 1977-1996, now Emerita Dean and Emerita Professor and currently Program Director of John A. Hartford initiative: Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity
  • Developed, won approval of, and implemented Ph.D. degree program, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, 1977-78
  • Elected to governing board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 1981
  • Distinguished Scholar, American Nurses' Foundation, 1984
  • Member, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 1986
  • Chair, Board of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Science, 1992 – 1996
  • In 1998 named 'A Living Legend' by the American Academy of Nursing, and received the President's Medal from New York University
  • Author/editor of fifteen books or monographs and over 100 articles published, including most recent book "Essays in Nursing Leadership (2000)
  • Member and Chair, Lienhard Committee, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Science, 2000-2004
  • Consultant in academic and health care leadership, 1996 – Present
  • Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Nursing, 2002
  • 2000-2005 Program Director, Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity, a program of the John A. Hartford Foundation

Francis Sheldon Hackney, President (1981-1993)

Born 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama
Died in 2013 on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

B.A., Vanderbilt University
M.A., Yale University, 1955
Ph.D., Yale University, 1963
Hon. LL.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1966

  • Assistant Professor, Princeton University, 1965-1969
  • Associate Professor, Princeton University, 1969-1972
  • Professor and Provost, Princeton University, 1972-1975
  • President, Tulane University, 1975-1980
  • Author, From Populism to Progressivism in Alabama, 1969
  • Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania, 1981-2013
  • Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1993-1997
  • President Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania, 1999-2013

University history during the Hackney administration:

  • 1982: The Wharton School's Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall completed and occupied.
  • 1983: "Choosing Penn's Future" was formally adopted as the strategic plan of the Hackney administration. It established a framework of four priorities and three "special challenges" for the decade that followed.

  • The priorities were:
    a) the University's quality is the strength of its faculty;
    b) the University must conserve its resources and protect its financial integrity;
    c) the University's special character is reflected in the diversity of interest and people it attracts to its community; and
    d) the University's scale must ensure the highest academic quality of its students and research efforts.

    The special challenges were:
    a) undergraduate education;
    b) research excellence; and
    c) student financial assistance.

  • 1985: Michael S. Brown (B.A. 1962; M.D. 1966) awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine
  • 1986: Seeley G. Mudd Biological Sciences Building completed and occupied.
  • 1987: 3401 Walnut Street building completed and occupied.
  • 1989: Campaign for Penn launched.

Martin Meyerson, President (1970-1981)

Born 1922 in New York, New York
Died 2007 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

B.A., Columbia University, 1942
Master of City Planning, Harvard University, 1949
Hon. LL.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1970

  • Staff, Philadelphia City Planning Commission, 1944-1945

  • Assistant Professor in the College and Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Chicago, 1948-1952

  • Associate Professor, Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, 1952-1956

  • Professor of City and Regional Planning, Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, 1956-1957

  • Professor of City Planning and Urban Research, Harvard University, 1957-1963

  • Acting Dean, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, 1963

  • Professor of Urban Development and Dean, College of Environmental Design, University of California at Berkeley, 1963-1966

  • Acting Chancellor, University of California at Berkeley, 1965

  • President and Professor of Public Policy, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1966-1970

  • Author (with E.C. Banfield), Politics, Planning and the Public Interest (1955)

  • Author, Housing, People and Cities (1962)

  • Author, Face of the Metropolis (1963)

  • Author, Boston: The Job Ahead (1966)

  • Director, MIT-Harvard Joint Center for Urban Studies, 1959-1963

  • President Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania, 1981 to the present

University history during the Meyerson administration:

  • 1972: Penn formally adopted an affirmative action program for women and minorities.

  • 1972: John Robert Schrieffer, Professor of Physics, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. He was Penn's first current faculty member to win a Nobel.

  • 1974: The School of Arts and Sciences established by the merger of the College, the College of Liberal Arts, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the faculty of four social science departments – Economics, Political Science, Regional Science, and Sociology – formerly within the Wharton School.

  • 1975: Program for the Eighties launched.

Gaylord Probasco Harnwell, President (1953-1970)

Born 1903 in Evanston, Illinois
Died 1982 in Haverford, Pennsylvania

B.S. in Physics, Haverford College, 1924
M.A. in Physics, Princeton University, 1926
Ph.D. in Physics, Princeton University, 1927

Hon. LL.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1953

  • Assistant and after 1936, Associate Professor of Physics, Princeton University, 1929-38

  • Professor of Physics, University of Pennsylvania, 1938-1970 (with leave of absence, 1942-46)

  • Chair, Department of Physics, University of Pennsylvania, 1938-1953 (with leave of absence, 1942-46)

  • Director, University of California Division of War Research, U.S. Navy Radio and Sound Laboratory, 1942-46, with Medal of Merit awarded him by the U.S. Navy in 1947 for advances in submarine detection devices, particularly in sonar technology

  • Editor, Review of Scientific Instruments, 1941-53
    (published by the American Institute of Physics)

  • Editorial Director, Physics Today, 1951-53

  • Author, Russian Diary (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1960). This book described his travels there.

  • Author, Educational Voyaging in Iran (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1962). This book described his advising on the establishment of an American-style university at Shiraz.

University history during the Harnwell administration:

  • 1953: The administration of President Gaylord P. Harnwell initiated "The Educational Survey," a major institutional self-study and long-range planning project.

  • 1954: Penn and seven other research universities established the Ivy League.

  • 1958: The Annenberg School for Communication established as a graduate professional school.

  • 1959: The Educational Survey was concluded with the publication of several studies and recommendations on educational policy, University administration, and athletics, including a summation by President Harnwell, titled "Assaying a University." The Educational Survey subsequently proved to be the model for modern strategic planning at Penn.

  • 1961: The Graduate School of Education took its modern name and became a graduate professional school.

  • 1961: The Graduate School of Fine Arts took its modern name and became a graduate professional school.

  • 1962: Development Program of the Sixties launched.

  • 1963: The Institute of Contemporary Art established.

  • 1965: Laboratory for Research in the Structure of Matter (LRSM) completed and occupied.

  • 1970: Achievements of the seventeen-year Harnwell administration included "the University's development from a regional university to a major national force in research with world-wide outreach.

    His administration was the time of the deliberative diversification of the student body to include students from all walks of life; of dramatic changes in faculty hiring to counter what had been labeled ‘inbreeding'; and of the founding of the Faculty Senate and later of other mechanisms that brought consultative groups together.

    Physical expansion alone was monumental: 93 projects were completed and another 38 designed during his administration.

    In the neighborhood to which Penn committed itself after deciding not to move to Valley Forge, he helped found the University City Science Center and the West Philadelphia corporation, and to put through a guaranteed mortgage program to draw faculty back from the suburbs.

    For the sixties, the $93 million capital campaign of the Harnwell era was one of the largest development campaigns to be dared in the country – and went over goal." (Almanac, 20 April 1982)

William Hagan DuBarry, Acting President on three separate occasions in 1950-51, 1952, and 1953.

President William Hagan DuBarry

Born 1894 in Lewistown, Pennsylvania
Died 1958 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

B.S. in Econ., University of Pennsylvania, 1929 (as of 1916)

  • Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, World War I, 1917-1919

  • Salesman, Graham & Co., 1916-1917

  • Assistant to the Provost, University of Pennsylvania, 1923-1931

  • Director of Scholarships and Student Finance, 1931-1938

  • Vice President and Assistant to the President, 1938-1944

  • Executive Vice President, 1944-1954

  • Vice President for the Corporation, 1954-1958

Directorships of University boards:

  • Member of the Board of Managers, Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, University of Pennsylvania, 1939-195? (President, 1944-1950)

  • Member of the Board of Managers, Graduate Hospital, University of Pennsylvania, 1940-1947

  • Trustee, Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, 1947-1950

  • Trustee, Pennsylvania School of Social Work, 1947

  • Member of the Board of Managers, University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 1947

  • Trustee, Thomas W. Evans Institute and Museum Society, (President in 1947-1950)

Directorships of non-University boards:

  • President, Foulke and Long Institute, 1931-1938

  • Member, Rittenhouse Club, 1923-1958 (President, 1949-1954)

  • Member of the Vestry, Protestant Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia, 1947

  • Secretary, Standing Committee of the Protestant Episcopal

  • Diocese of Pennsylvania, 1931-1947

  • Director, American Academy of Music, 1946-

  • Director, Zoological Society of Philadelphia, 1946-1958

  • Director, Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross, 1945-1951 (Chairman, 1948-1950)

  • Trustee, Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, 1949-53 and President of the Board of Trustees, 1953-

  • Director, Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company


Harold Edward Stassen, President (1948-1953)

President Edward Stassen

Born 1907 in North St. Paul, Minnesota
Died 2001 in Minnesota

B.A., University of Minnesota, 1927
L.L.B., University of Minnesota, 1929
Hon. LL.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1948

  • Practicing attorney, 1929-1930

  • County Attorney of Dakota County, Minnesota, 1930-1938

  • Governor, State of Minnesota, 1938-1943

  • Captain, U.S. Navy, 1943-1945 (his military service was performed in the South Pacific, where he was assigned to the staff of Admiral William F. Halsey)

  • U.S. Delegate, San Francisco Conference of the United Nations, 1945

  • Nationally prominent candidate for U.S. President, 1948, but was defeated for nomination at the Republican National Convention by New York Governor Thomas Dewey

  • Director, Mutual Security Administration, 1953, with cabinet rank in the Eisenhower administration

  • Director, Foreign Operations Administration, 1953-1955, with cabinet rank

  • Special Assistant to the U.S. President, 1955-1958, with cabinet rank, to direct studies of U.S. and world disarmament

  • Practicing attorney in the Philadelphia law firm of Stassen, Kostos, and Mason, 1958-

  • Candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, 1958, but was defeated in the Republican primary by McGonigle

  • Candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia, 1959, but was defeated in the general election by the incumbent Democrat, Richardson C. Dilworth

  • Candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, 1966, but was defeated in the Republican primary

Significant events in or aspects of University history during the Stassen administration:

  • 1950: The School of Nursing established as an undergraduate professional school.

George William McClelland, President (1944-1948)

Born 1880 in Dobbs Ferry, New York
Died 1955 in Little Deer Isle, Maine

B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1903
M.A. in English, University of Pennsylvania, 1912
Ph.D. in English, University of Pennsylvania, 1916
Hon. LL.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1931

  • Instructor of English and Latin, City College, New York City, 1903-1911

  • Instructor of English, University of Pennsylvania, 1911-1917

  • Assistant Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, 1917-1924

  • Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, 1924-1950

  • Professor Emeritus, 1950-1955

  • Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Pennsylvania, 1915-1921

  • Director of Undergraduate Admissions, 1921-1925

  • Vice Provost, 1925-1928

  • Vice Provost in charge of Undergraduate Schools, 1928-1931

  • Vice President in charge of Undergraduate Schools, 1931-1939

  • Provost, 1939-1944

  • Trustee, University of Pennsylvania, 1948-1955

Significant events in or aspects of University history during the McClelland administration:

  • 1946: ENIAC, the world's first all-electronic digital computer, was designed, constructed and put into production at Penn

Thomas Sovereign Gates, President (1930-1944)

Born 1873 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died 1948 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ph.B. in the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 1893
LL.B., University of Pennsylvania, 1896
Hon. LL.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1931

  • Practicing attorney in the office of John G. Johnson, 1896-1906

  • Trust Officer and Vice President, First Pennsylvania Bank, 1906-1912

  • President, Philadelphia Trust Company, 1912-1918

  • Partner, Drexel and Company, 1918-1930

  • Partner, J.P. Morgan and Company, 1921-1930

  • Trustee, University of Pennsylvania, 1921-1948

  • Chairman, University of Pennsylvania Fund, 1925-1929

  • Chairman, Board of Trustees, 1944-48

Significant events in or aspects of University history during the Gates administration:

  • 1930: The University of Pennsylvania was composed of a College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; five undergraduate professional schools – Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Veterinary Medicine, and the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce; and four graduate professional schools – Law, Medicine, Dental Medicine, and Graduate Medicine. Penn also owned and operated the University Museum, the University Hospital, the Veterinary Hospital, and the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology.

  • 1932: Penn acquired the Morris Arboretum, located in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, established onsite research programs in botany and opened the ninety-two-acre Victorian garden to the public.

  • 1933: The College of Liberal Arts for Women established. It was Penn's first, full-time, undergraduate liberal arts degree program for women.

  • 1935: The Pennsylvania School of Social Work affiliated with Penn as a graduate, professional school. Penn conferred, for the first time, the degree of Master of Social Work (MSW).

  • 1936: Women first earned the degree of Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch.).

  • 1937: The Fels Institute of State and Local Government established. Penn conferred, for the first time, the degree of Master of Government Administration (MGA).

  • 1938: Women first earned the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVD).

  • 1940: The School of Veterinary Medicine became a graduate professional school. All first-year students were required, for the first time, to demonstrate the completion of a minimum of two full years of higher education as a prerequisite to admission.

  • 1943: World War II training programs established, including the United States Naval Flight Preparatory School, the Navy College Training Program, the Army Specialized Training Program, and the Women's Army Corps. Total enrollment in these wartime programs exceeded 3,500.