Rodin among world's most powerful women
Judith Rodin, Penn's former president, was named the 71st most powerful woman in the world
September 29, 2011, 8:30 pm·
Penn’s former president is making a name for herself.
Judith Rodin, who served as president of the University from 1994 to 2004, was named the 71st most powerful woman in the world by a Forbes magazine ranking last month.
Rodin — who now serves as president of the Rockefeller Foundation — and Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust were the only current or former Ivy League presidents to make the list.
The ranking — which examined factors like individuals’ net worth and the media attention they receive — puts Rodin in a crowd with names such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.
Rodin is a “most deserving” recipient of the honor, Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “She did a great job leading Penn, and she’s done a great job leading the Rockefeller Foundation as well.”
Sheldon Hackney, who served as Penn’s president from 1981 to 1993, agreed, adding that Rodin’s placement on Forbes’ list could prove to be an advantage for the entire Penn community.
“The more she’s in the limelight, the more people are going to think about her experience at Penn,” he said. “I think the University can benefit greatly from that.”
During the third year of Hackney’s presidency, U.S. News and World Report released the first-ever version of its annual “America’s Best Colleges” ranking. At the time, Penn “wasn’t even in the top 25” on the list, Hackney said.
He credited Rodin with enabling the University to climb the rankings “by helping high-school students see that Penn was an exceptional college.” By the time Rodin left the University in 2004, Penn was ranked fourth on the list.
Rodin, who was the first female president in the Ivy League, “worked to stitch the University together … and put Penn on the map,” College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dennis DeTurck said.
DeTurck, who served as chairman of the Mathematics Department during Rodin’s tenure, added that “under her watch, Penn went from being the ‘other Ivy’ to being a bit more sure of itself, a bit more assertive.”
Much of Rodin’s work can still be seen across campus today, Gutmann said.
In particular, Rodin began a major revitalization process in West Philadelphia, a process Gutmann has continued throughout her time at Penn.
Additionally, Rodin was responsible for a substantial increase in University fundraising — which rose from $135 million in 1995 to more than $400 million by the time she left Penn.
Rodin was also responsible for creating the College House system and overhauling undergraduate advising.
Before coming to Penn, Rodin served as provost of Yale University. Today, she is the first woman to stand at the helm of the Rockefeller Foundation in its 96-year history.
Though Rodin has moved on from her time at Penn, the Rockefeller Foundation continues to donate funds to the Penn Institute for Urban Research, Gutmann said.
“I’ve been lucky to have a strong base at Penn that my recent predecessors were instrumental in creating,” Gutmann added. “Their support has enabled us to move Penn from excellence to eminence.”