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Although a Wharton alumnus, former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter will be turning to Columbia to teach courses on professional practice in urban policy. | Courtesy of Ad Meskens/Creative Commons

Former Philadelphia mayor and 1979 Wharton graduate Michael Nutter is now the newest faculty member at Columbia University. After eight years at City Hall, Nutter will begin teaching this semester as a professor of professional practice in urban policy at Columbia’s renowned School of International and Public Affairs.

The Columbia appointment comes shortly after the completion of Nutter’s second term as mayor of Philadelphia, which ended on Jan. 4.

Nutter, who grew up in West Philadelphia, graduated from Wharton in 1979 with a concentration in management. While at Penn, he worked as a DJ in a local nightclub and was part of the Friars Senior Society.

Throughout the years, Nutter has maintained strong ties to his alma mater, including speaking at a Penn Democrats event in September 2014. During that event, he recalled that Penn Dems was one of the first organized groups to endorse him as mayor during his first election.

His wife Lisa, a 1992 graduate of Penn’s Graduate School of Design, is president of Philadelphia Academies, Inc., an educational advocacy nonprofit that has partnered with Penn in the past.

“Although his tenure was not without its setbacks and unfulfilled goals, he has shown a tremendous ability to solve significant problems with strong and ethical leadership,” former Penn Democrats president and College senior Sean Foley said in a statement.

At press time, it was unclear whether Nutter had received similar offers from other universities. Nutter cited the reputation and influence of SIPA’s scholarship as key reasons for accepting a position at the prestigious New York City school.

“The opportunity to work with such distinguished faculty and incredible students at this internationally recognized university is an enormous responsibility,” Nutter said in a press release. His daughter Olivia is currently a junior at Columbia.

During his time as mayor, Nutter reached national prominence as a dynamic urban reformer. His administration earned over 150 awards for its successes in innovative, exemplary urban governance.

“As mayor of one of our nation’s largest cities, he has earned a national reputation as a leader in urban public policy — addressing key challenges in economic development, public safety, environmental innovation and many others,” SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow said in a press release.

His administration was not, however, without controversy. In Nov. 2015, Nutter made headlines when his office announced that it was ready to rescind a mayoral executive order that declared Philadelphia a sanctuary city. The classification of sanctuary city forbade local law enforcement from cooperating with national immigration agents seeking to deport undocumented immigrants. The announcement received vehement criticism from local immigrant-rights groups as well as from Nutter’s now-successor Jim Kenney, who has since reaffirmed Philadelphia’s status as a sanctuary city.

Nutter hopes that his past experiences, both successes and shortcomings, will enable him to contribute to Columbia’s strong record of excellence in urban studies and international public policy.

“This opportunity ... creates an important platform to continue my focus on the leading urban challenges in the United States and around the world,” Nutter said. “I look forward to actively engaging with the Columbia University community.”

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