I am delighted to announce my selection of Wendell Pritchett to be the 30th Provost of the University of Pennsylvania. Currently Presidential Professor of Law and Education at Penn Law, Wendell is a celebrated teacher and scholar of urban policy, education, civil rights and race relations, an accomplished leader and administrator, and a passionate advocate for academic excellence and civic engagement. A longtime faculty member and universally admired leader in our Penn community, he is consummately well-positioned to work with our deans, faculty, staff, students, and me in advancing Penn’s highest priorities. He will formally assume his office on July 1, 2017 after ratification by the Trustees at their June meeting.
Wendell’s leadership experiences uniquely position him to serve as Penn’s chief academic officer. As Interim Dean of Penn Law from 2014-15, Wendell ably led and stewarded the school during the search that culminated in Ted Ruger’s appointment as Dean. As Chancellor of Rutgers-Camden from 2009-14, he literally saved the campus in the wake of a failed proposal to merge it with another institution. Wendell’s leadership of Rutgers-Camden saw immense growth and improvement for the institution, including graduating classes of record sizes, the introduction of the campus’s first doctoral programs, the hiring of dozens of new faculty, and the initiation of critical capital projects, including new health education and science facilities, a new dormitory, and library renovations. In 2012, Wendell was elected president of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, a national consortium of higher education institutions.
Wendell is a consummately interdisciplinary and award-winning attorney, legal scholar, and urban historian whose research examines the development of post-WWII urban policy, in particular urban renewal, housing finance and housing discrimination. His first book, Brownsville, Brooklyn: Blacks, Jews and the Changing Face of the Ghetto (University of Chicago Press, 2002), explores race relations and public policy in 20th-century Brooklyn. His most recent book, Robert Clifton Weaver and the American City: The Life and Times of an Urban Reformer (University of Chicago Press, 2008), is a biography of the first African-American cabinet secretary, a leading thinker and practitioner of 20th-century urban development. Wendell’s 2008 article, “Which Urban Crisis? Regionalism, Race and Urban Policy, 1960-1974,” won the Urban History Association Best Article Award. A member of the Pennsylvania Bar since 1991, Wendell’s practice focused on real estate and housing law, including the representation of nonprofit organizations involved in the development of affordable housing.
Wendell earned his Ph.D. in history from Penn in 1997 under the mentorship of Dr. Walter Licht, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History in SAS, with whom Wendell maintains a close relationship today in the finest traditions of graduate education at Penn. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1991 and B.A. in political science from Brown University in 1986. After completing his doctorate, Wendell joined the faculty at Baruch College-City University of New York where he taught courses in post-bellum American history, American legal history, nonprofit law, and the history of immigration to the United States. He joined the Penn Law faculty in 2002 as assistant professor of law, was promoted to full professor in 2006, and served as Penn Law’s associate dean for academic affairs in 2006-07. Wendell rejoined Penn in 2015 as Presidential Professor of Law and Education upon completing his chancellorship of Rutgers-Camden.
A strong believer in the value of public service and the importance of knowledge-based public policy, Wendell also served in 2008 as Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy for then-Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, W’79, where he helped oversee the preparation of the City’s Five-Year Plan and budget and managed the operations of the Mayor’s Office. As Mayor Nutter’s appointee, Wendell was vice chair (2008-10) and chair (2010-11) of the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia and also served as the Mayor’s appointee to the School Reform Commission from 2011-14. He chaired the board of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia from 2005-08 and was co-chair of the World Class Great Philadelphia Initiative of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. Wendell’s other community and public policy contributions—too numerous to fully recount—have included service as a member, trustee, or director of the Pennsylvania State Planning Board (as then-Governor Ed Rendell’s, C’65, Hon’00, appointee), the Public Health Management Corporation, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, the Library Company of Philadelphia, Cooper University Hospital, Coopers Ferry Partnership, Campus Compact, and College Unbound.
My selection of Wendell Pritchett as Penn’s next Provost concludes a four and one-half month international search in which the Consultative Committee, ably chaired by Penn Medicine EVP/Dean Larry Jameson, conducted dozens of informational interviews with individuals and groups in the Penn community to understand the scope, expectations, and challenges of the Provost position, as well as many informal contacts. The Committee considered approximately 60 candidates, potential candidates, and consultants. From these, the Committee selected 12 individuals for interviews from whom six superb individuals were recommended to me as finalists for the position. I am grateful to Dean Jameson and to his Consultative Committee colleagues for their outstanding and expeditious work in advising me on the selection of Penn’s next Provost.
As we celebrate Wendell Pritchett’s appointment as Provost, on behalf of the University, I want to take this opportunity again to express our thanks and appreciation to Vincent Price for his exemplary ongoing service as Provost since 2009. Vince has brought extraordinary leadership and vision—as well as grace and good humor—to our academic enterprise. Vince helped recruit exceptional deans and faculty members while advancing initiatives to diversify the faculty, develop new forms of teaching and learning, expand Penn’s global engagement (including our new Penn Wharton China Center and Perry World House), and enhance arts and culture on campus. He has also been a major force in facilitating interdisciplinary research and teaching, developing Penn's online learning initiatives, and providing intellectual forums for our community to come together to address some of the most challenging issues of our time. We are all very proud of Vince and know that he will do an absolutely fantastic job as he assumes the presidency of Duke University on July 1st – carrying with him all his incredible Penn experiences and accomplishments.
I have every confidence that Wendell will be an exceptional partner and inspiring presence for me and the entire Penn community. His deep experience, impeccable judgment, inclusive manner, and warm style will help us further increase Penn's eminence and momentum. Wendell has been a standout and a star in every role he has inhabited – teacher, scholar, senior academic administrator, policymaker, and political advisor among them – and he will surely shine as our University’s Provost, helping to propel forward our shared and ambitious vision for Penn.
-- Amy Gutmann