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Senior Vice President and General Counsel Wendy White advises University officials on legal matters from her office in University Square.[Kaned Suviwattanachai/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

Every day at Penn is different from the next for Wendy White, senior vice president and general counsel for the University and Penn Medicine.

"I usually don't know what it's going to be like," she adds with a smile.

White -- a 1975 Penn Law alumna -- returned to Penn in 1999, holding the position of deputy general counsel of the University until 2001, and vice president and general counsel until her appointment to her current position in June of 2003.

In addition to her role as general counsel, White absorbed the duties of former Chief of Staff Pedro Ramos after he was appointed city solicitor this past January.

As chief of staff, White works in close contact with the President's Office on non-legal issues such as economic development and neighborhood initiatives.

White's job description also includes being an adviser to the Board of Trustees and the University regarding conflict of interest policies.

In addition, she oversees the Office of General Counsel, which deals with real estate issues, intellectual property rights, research, labor and employment and a variety of other legal issues.

She is a supervisor to a staff of 17 attorneys and numerous other paralegals and administrative assistants.

Associate General Counsel at the University and co-worker Eric Tilles describes her as a "wonderful boss" with a sense of humor, but who is also capable of "approaching things seriously but keeping them in perspective."

University President Judith Rodin is one of many top officials who comes in daily contact with White.

Rodin acknowledges White's "tremendous credentials" and "outstanding performance" in counseling the University officers with "regard to the initiatives that we all undertake."

While White has worked closely with Rodin for the past few years and praises her for making "enormous strides" for Penn, she welcomes the chance to work with newly elected President Amy Gutmann.

"I think she is going to be absolutely fabulous," White says.

White says that she feels very lucky to be able to work with Gutmann and feels that the president-elect shares Rodin's strongly-held opinion that "Penn is a great institution."

Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush also interacts with White frequently -- sometimes up to a "couple of times a day" -- checking in with her about a variety of legal issues.

The two serve together on several committees that focus on topics such as privacy and crisis management.

Rush describes White as calm, logical and professional, and cites 9/11 as an example of when White's crisis management abilities were made apparent.

In addition to these responsibilities, White serves as a freshman adviser.

"I love advising my freshmen," White says. "I believe in having the academic adviser system, and I like having students around."

Her advisees say they feel a mutual affinity and appreciation for her guidance.

College junior Klair Spiller noted that White "answers my questions quickly and correctly, and is always concerned with what I am doing."

College senior Joanna Visser added that she thinks White is a great person, having known her from living in the same community in Washington, D.C.

Prior to her arrival at Penn, White served as associate counsel to former President Bill Clinton from 1996 to 1997, representing the president during Travelgate, Whitewater and other congressional investigations.

White was also a partner at Shea & Gardner, a Washington D.C., law firm, where she specialized in higher education, campaign finance and immigration issues.

During her tenure at Shea & Gardner, White recalls that the "most fun thing I did" was represent the National Hockey League Players Association.

White, the only female attorney, represented the NHLPA throughout the 1980s as they dealt with labor and collective bargaining issues.

She currently lives in the Center City area with her husband, who is chief counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. She has two children -- a daughter and a son, who is a freshman at Penn.

During her free time, White loves spending time with her family, going to the theater and traveling.

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