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Credit: Chase Sutton

Penn President Amy Gutmann announced in an email to the Penn community Tuesday morning that Penn Provost Wendell Pritchett will take a medical leave of absence from the University through the end of the fall 2021 semester.

Gutmann wrote that Pritchett has been dealing with "some health issues that, while not life-threatening, require greater attention over the coming months." Deputy Provost Beth Winkelstein will serve as interim provost beginning July 1, the email read.

"[Wendell] is an exceptional leader who is universally recognized for his scholarship, teaching, compassion, and commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement," Gutmann wrote. "He is also a cherished friend to so many of us here at Penn. We all want Wendell to take the time necessary to tend to his health, and this leave of absence will allow him to do just that."

The Provost's Office oversees all departments pertaining to University life including teaching, learning, and research across the University, along with student life. 

Winkelstein wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that she is honored to have been called on by Gutmann and Pritchett to take on the interim provost position.

"Penn has been a central part of my life since I was a student here, and I am committed to helping our community to thrive in the important months ahead," Winkelstein wrote. "I look forward to working with our amazing students, faculty, and staff as we continue to resume our lives on campus this summer and fall."

Pritchett appointed Winkelstein as deputy provost in June 2020 after she previously served as vice provost for education for five years. 

Winkelstein graduated from Penn with a degree in bioengineering and earned her Ph.D. in bioengineering at Duke University. She has taught in the School of Engineering and Applied Science since 2002. 

"Wendell and I and everyone who has worked with Beth have great confidence in her ability to step in and lead the Provost’s Office while Wendell is on leave," Gutmann wrote. "Beth is an exceptional University citizen, who is involved in all aspects of our academic, research and student-centered programming."

Pritchett was named provost in April 2017 after serving as a professor at Penn Law School since 2002.