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Arlen Specter Credit: Maya Spitzer

A Penn alumnus and former U.S. Senator for five consecutive terms, Arlen Specter will be joining the Law School next fall as an adjunct faculty member.

Specter will be teaching a course on the relationship between Congress and the Supreme Court with a focus on separation of powers and the confirmation process.

“I’m excited to join a vibrant community that’s on the cutting edge of today’s most important legal issues,” Specter said in a statement.

“As I transition to a new phase of my career, teaching at Penn Law will be a fantastic opportunity to join an outstanding community of scholars, continue my work in public policy and the law, and impact the next generation of lawyers and policy makers,” Specter said.

One of the goals of bringing Specter to Penn Law is to encourage students to pursue successful careers in government, an ideal shared by many members of Penn’s faculty.

“I hope that Senator Specter encourages more law students to consider careers in public service, as it is a noble calling and a way of leading a satisfying life,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said.

Penn Law dean Michael Fitts shared this sentiment, explaining that Penn Law prepares students for careers not only in law, but also in related fields.

“We also place great emphasis on public service, something Senator Specter’s career epitomizes, most recently as Pennsylvania’s longest serving U.S. Senator,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Specter has “been at the center of some of the most pressing issues and events involving the judicial and legislative branches over the last 30 years,” Fitts added. “Our students will get the benefit of his insights into fundamental constitutional issues as they played out historically.”

Political Science professor John DiIulio — who encourages undergraduates to get involved in public service with his “Introduction to American Politics” class and the Fox Leadership Program — also commended the statesman’s role in Penn Law.

“He certainly represents the values of public service, and I hope that we, in the undergraduate college, will be able to steal some of his time for events with undergraduates,” DiIulio said.

Specter will join former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell as a Penn alumnus who went on to serve in government and then returned to Penn to teach. Rendell has been teaching a course called “Who Gets Elected and Why” in the College during the fall semester since 2003.

According to College junior Eitan Adler, who took Rendell's class last fall, "Hearing about Governor Rendell's own experiences in elections and government made the class both more interesting and informative."

Fitts hopes that law students will benefit from Specter's experience in the Senate in a similar fashion.

Specter began his political career as a Republican, but became a Democrat in 2010. He lost the Democratic primary bid for Senator last May and was succeeded by Republican Pat Toomey on Jan. 3.

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