Penn President Amy Gutmann’s contract has been extended to 2022, which will make her the longest-serving president in Penn history.
The news was announced Tuesday morning by Penn Board of Trustees Chair David L. Cohen in an email to the Penn community. Gutmann’s contract was scheduled to end in 2019, but her tenure will now run to June 30, 2022.
“Since assuming the Presidency in 2004, Amy has done a superb job leading our University forward, and her outstanding leadership of Penn has been nothing short of transformational,” the message read.
In an interview, David Cohen called Gutmann “the best university president in the country — someone who is uniquely qualified to continue to accelerate our momentum.”
This announcement will bring Gutmann’s total contracted time as Penn’s president to 18 years, one year more than the former longest-serving president, Gaylord Harnwell, who served from 1953 to 1970.
2016 also marks the second time Gutmann’s contract has been extended. Gutmann originally came to Penn in 2004 on a ten-year contract, which was prolonged in 2012 for an additional 5 years from 2014 to 2019.
Cohen said that a third extension to Gutmann’s tenure after 2022 was definitely possible, but not likely to happen.
“The legal answer is, there’s nothing to prevent the trustees from extending her agreement again beyond 2022,” Cohen said. “I’m not going to say never, but it is way more likely than not that this would be the final extension of her contract.”
Talk of the extension began about a year ago between Gutmann and the Board of Trustees. The discussion involved both the question of whether Gutmann had the “passion and the energy” to stay longer and whether the Board of Trustees thought the same, Cohen said.
Gutmann brought to the table “a list of projects she wants to complete, as well as a new list of projects she wants to pursue,” he said.
Since the news was announced Tuesday morning, Cohen’s email inbox has been flooded with “a couple of hundred” messages from stakeholders reacting.
“The level of happiness and excitement is just off the charts,” Cohen said. “I’m really proud of Amy and the fact that her accomplishments appeal to literally every stakeholder in the University.”
The email sent out to the University community was filled with praise for Gutmann, listing over a dozen major accomplishments during her presidency.
Among them: increasing the financial aid budget for undergraduate students by 155 percent, creating 200 new endowed professorships, raising more than $5 billion for Penn, creating the President’s Engagement Prize and the President’s Innovation Prize, building the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, the New College House, Perry World House and opening the Penn Wharton China Center.
“We believe that extending Amy Gutmann’s tenure will allow us to continue to build on this great success,“ the message from Cohen to the university community read. “Her passion for Penn is boundless, and she is already keenly focused on new strategic priorities for the coming years, all aimed at making a Penn education the finest in the world.”