Five more years.
The University Board of Trustees announced at its meeting on Oct. 19 that Penn President Amy Gutmann's contract has been extended for five years, securing her position as Penn's leader until 2014.
The extension for Gutmann, who assumed the presidency in June 2004, comes 20 months before her contract was set to expire.
The Trustees made this announcement now in an effort to increase confidence among Penn alumni and other potential donors by letting them know that Gutmann will stick around for the duration of the recently announced $3.5 billion capital campaign.
"Because the just-announced campaign has a five-year life, and the president will play a key role in this undertaking, we decided to announce this extension so our many constituents could be confident that Dr. Gutmann will be in place for the entire campaign," James Riepe, chairman of the Board of Trustees, wrote in an e-mail.
Gutmann and her administration have been under scrutiny over the last few months for their reticence regarding former Dean of Admissions Lee Stetson's abrupt departure in August.
Gutmann has said nothing beyond that Stetson's departure was in the "best interests" of Stetson and the University. She has referred all related questions to University spokeswoman Lori Doyle, who has remained just as tightly lipped.
Gutmann drew other negative press a year ago when she posed with a Penn student dressed up as a suicide bomber at her annual Halloween party. The photo circulated around the Internet and landed in many newspapers across the world.
Still, the Trustees continue to stand by her presidency.
"The Trustees have been very pleased with Dr. Gutmann's leadership during her first three and a half years as president," Riepe wrote.
As for any future extensions beyond 2014, Gutmann isn't looking that far ahead.
"I said I will stay at least through 2014 - that's about as long as any rational human being can plan," Gutmann said.
If Gutmann stays through 2014, she will be the second consecutive president to preside over the University for a decade. She follows Judith Rodin, the first female president in the Ivy League.
Over the next seven years, Gutmann hopes to improve Penn's accessibility by "ramping up financial aid on all levels" and to provide academic support through new faculty hires, especially new Penn Integrates Knowledge professors.
The PIK program is an initiative started by Gutmann which aims to recruit professors who "exemplify the integration of knowledge," according to the Penn Compact.
And, of course, there's that campaign.
"One of the things the campaign launch emphasized was these goals are great not only for Penn, but they're also great for what Penn represents, which is putting knowledge into practice," Gutmann said. "We have the vision for higher education that can contribute most to what our society and the world needs."
Overall, Gutmann sees only positives in her future at Penn, and is excited for the rest of her term: "I have a great job, so why wouldn't I want to do it?"Comments powered by Disqus
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