President Joe Biden officially nominated Penn's former Chair of the Board of Trustees and 1981 Penn Law School graduate David Cohen as the next United States Ambassador to Canada after weeks of speculation.
The nomination — which the White House announced in a press release on Wednesday afternoon — comes just three weeks after Biden nominated Penn President Amy Gutmann as the next U.S. ambassador to Germany on July 2. Cohen's term as Chair of the Board of Trustees ended on June 30, and he currently serves as the Senior Advisor to the CEO at Comcast.
Cohen has been rumored as Biden's pick as the next ambassador to Canada for weeks, which followed reports from December 2020 that he was a potential pick to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Cohen, who was a prominent donor of the Biden campaign, hosted Biden's first official 2020 presidential fundraising event. Of the 39 total ambassador nominees Biden has announced, a majority have been political allies, campaign donors, or personal friends, a move that has drawn harsh criticism from a variety of experts and politicians. Some experts claim that Biden is more focused on rewarding allies than improving fought U.S. foreign relations.
Gutmann's nomination led many to question the Biden administration’s motives, citing his close relationship to the University. Others, however, have said Gutmann is deserving and well-prepared for the position, adding that those with concerns regarding Gutmann's preparedness for the position are misguided.
Biden has held the position of honorary “Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor” at Penn since 2017. Biden also established the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C.
Penn announced that Cohen would be leaving the University on Nov. 19, 2020 and that Scott Bok — a Penn graduate and investment banker — would take his place as chair of the Board of Trustees on July 1, 2021. Cohen served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for nearly 12 years.
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