The Class of 2019 are not the only new faces on campus — six new deans have been appointed over the last several months to serve throughout Penn’s 12 schools.
Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett, Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel and Social Policy & Practice Dean John L. Jackson Jr. began their terms during the summer of 2014, Graduate School of Education Dean Pam Grossman took office this past January and Penn Law School Dean Theodore Ruger and School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Vijay Kumar filled their positions this July.
Penn President Amy Gutmann explained that the surge in new dean appointments stems from the timing of deans’ terms of service, as well as the length of her own term.
“We have 12 deans all together, and our typical terms for deans are seven years, then five years, so given that they’re 12-year terms, you can figure, this is my twelfth year as president, there’s going to be that kind of turnover,” she said. “They’re really off to a great start.”
Despite specializing in diverse fields, three of the new deans — Villarruel, Jackson and Grossman — are currently working together on youth initiatives to serve local Philadelphians. The project, for which details have yet to be announced, will integrate nursing, education and social policy and practice.
“We will be doing things in collaboration across those three schools,” Gutmann said.
Even with six recent additions, the administration’s dean search isn’t over yet — Gutmann said that Penn is currently on the hunt for a new dean for the School of Design, whose current dean, Marilyn Jordan Taylor, will finish her term in June 2016.
All of the new deans bring different backgrounds, experiences and ideas to their roles. Learn more about them below.
John L. Jackson Jr., Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice: Integrating Diverse Fields
John L. Jackson Jr., whose term as Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice began July 1, 2014, is a cultural anthropologist with research interests in the impact of mass media on urban life, globalization, racial and ethnic diasporas, racialization and media technology. At the time of his appointment as dean, he held primary faculty appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication and the College of Arts and Sciences, with a secondary appointment in SP2.
Jackson also became the University’s first Penn Integrates Knowledge professor when he joined in 2006, kicking off a program designed for faculty with appointments in two Penn schools who work to integrate various fields of knowledge.
Antonia Villarruel, Dean of the Nursing School: Addressing Needs of Minorities
Antonia Villarruel, whose term as Dean of the Nursing School also began July 1, 2014, came to Penn after serving as Associate Dean for Research and Global Affairs at the University of Michigan School of Nursing.
Villarruel has developed a research program that that studies interventions for Latino, Mexican and Puerto Rican populations, with a focus on reducing sexual risk among Latino adolescents. Much of her work has centered around minorities — she served on an advisory council concerning minority health and health disparities for the Secretary of Health and Human Services and was president of the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations.
Geoffrey Garrett, Dean of the Wharton School: Globalizing Knowledge
Geoffrey Garrett, the third Penn dean to begin his term on July 1, was a Wharton faculty member from 1995 to 1997 before traveling across the globe to serve as dean and a professor of business at the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales.
Garrett, who has held leadership roles and faculty positions at universities in the United States, England and Australia and has served as president of the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles, brings a global perspective to his position as dean.
Pam Grossman, Dean of the Graduate School of Education: Revitalizing Teacher Education
Pam Grossman, a professor of education originally hailing from Stanford, took the position as Dean of GSE on Jan. 1, 2015, marking the completion of four dean searches within one year.
Grossman’s experience ranges from K-12 classrooms to teacher education. At the time of her appointment, she headed Stanford’s Center to Support Excellence in Teaching, and her research focuses on the changes facing teacher education, especially in New York City.
Theodore Ruger, Dean of Penn Law School: From the Supreme Court to Sansom Street
Theodore Ruger, who previously served as Penn Law’s deputy dean, officially became the dean of Penn Law on July 1, 2015, replacing Interim Dean Wendell Pritchett.
Ruger has a background in health law and regulation, food and drug law and constitutional law. Prior to his appointment, he had held numerous leadership positions at Penn, including advisor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. His outside experience includes a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and stints in Washington, D.C. law firms.
Vijay Kumar, Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science: Transforming Technology
Vijay Kumar, whose term as dean of the Engineering School also began on July 1, served in the departments of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Computer and Information Science and Electrical and Systems Engineering.
Kumar’s work focuses on the development of autonomous robots and biologically inspired algorithms for collective behavior. From 2012 to 2014, he was assistant director for robotics and other physical systems in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House.
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