Penn names former provost its interim president
Wendell E. Pritchett, Penn’s first president of color, will serve in the interim role as Dr. Amy Gutmann departs and before M. Elizabeth Magill arrives.
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During a transition period for the University of Pennsylvania, the institution has announced Wendell E. Pritchett as its interim president, and first president of color.
This news comes while incumbent Penn president Dr. Amy Gutmann — who announced plans to step down in 2022 — awaits Senate confirmation to become the new U.S. ambassador to Germany.
On Jan. 13, the university announced that M. Elizabeth Magill, currently executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia, will be the successor to Dr. Gutmann as the ninth president of the university.
Pritchett will serve as interim president in the meantime through June 30 before Magill officially steps into the permanent role on July 1.
“We are very fortunate to have someone with Wendell’s experience and stature to be able to step in and lead Penn through the transition to the start of Liz Magill’s presidency,” said Scott Bok, chair of Penn’s board of trustees, in a statement.
He noted Pritchett’s familiarity with the issues, people and understanding of Penn’s values and priorities as traits that makes him an ideal candidate for the interim role.
Pritchett has been part of the Penn family for three separate stints. In 2017, he was named the provost of the university, a role he held for over four years before taking a leave for the fall semester to tend to a medical issue.
After recovering and returning in January 2022, he was named senior advisor to the president before taking on this new interim president role.
“I’m very pleased to help during this important transition at Penn,” Pritchett said in a statement. “I care passionately about this institution — its faculty, staff and students.”
He went on to praise the entire team for continuing to work their way through the pandemic, overcoming challenges, and “continuing to shine with new research discoveries, extraordinary patient care, continued excellence in the classroom and a caring commitment to our community,” he said.
After his tenure as interim president ends, Pritchett plans to return to his faculty position at Penn’s Carey Law School.
Pritchett is a Penn alum, earning his Ph.D. in history after earning his bachelor’s in political science from Brown University and his juris doctorate from Yale Law School.
He originally joined the Penn Law faculty in 2002 as an assistant professor of law, was promoted to full professor in 2006 and also served as associate dean for academic affairs for the 2006-07 academic year.
He served various other roles, such as vice chair and chair of the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia and was on the School Reform Commission from 2011 to 2014 after being appointed by Mayor Michael Nutter. Pritchett was also the chancellor of Rutgers-Camden from 2009 to 2014, before rejoining Penn in 2014.