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08-26-19-amy-gutmann-and-wendell-pritchett-convocation-chase-sutton

Penn President Amy Gutmann (right) and former provost Wendell Pritchett chat during the procession of the Class of 2023's convocation ceremony on Aug. 26, 2019.

Credit: Chase Sutton

Wendell Pritchett will return to campus in January as senior advisor to the president, though he will not continue in his previous role as provost.

Penn President Amy Gutmann wrote in an email sent to the Penn community on Thursday that after taking a leave of absence this semester, Pritchett is healthy and "eager to return to campus" as a senior advisor to the president through the end of the spring 2022 semester. After the spring semester, Pritchett will be reinstated as a faculty member at the Penn Law School.

Beth Winkelstein will continue to serve as interim provost through the end of the spring semester. The next University president — who has not yet been named — will be tasked with naming a permanent provost upon assuming the role.

Gutmann wrote that Pritchett "did not wish to be considered as a candidate" for University president from the beginning of the search process, citing his passion for teaching.

On July 2, President Joe Biden nominated Gutmann as the next United States ambassador to Germany. Gutmann wrote in an email sent to the Penn community that she would continue to serve as Penn's president until June 30, 2022, unless she were to be confirmed by the United States Senate at an earlier date.

In September, Penn announced the formation of the Consultative Committee to select the next University president.

The Consultative Committee consists of seven trustees, two deans, five faculty members, one staff member, one undergraduate, and one graduate student. The committee was formed by the Executive Committee of the Trustees and is charged with “seeking the advice of their respective constituencies on the challenges a new president might face, strategic priorities, and recommended strengths and experience for the new president," according to the Almanac.

Gutmann wrote that she is looking forward to welcoming Pritchett back to campus as her time at Penn comes to a close.

"While I had very much hoped to welcome him back as provost, I fully understand and support this deeply felt and very personal decision," Gutmann wrote. "As I approach my final months at Penn, there are so many important things still to accomplish and, as I reflected on the best ways to maximize Penn momentum over this period, it was clear to me that I could benefit greatly from Wendell’s service and wise counsel."

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