M. Elizabeth Magill will serve as the University’s next president, replacing Amy Gutmann after 18 years.
Magill, who currently serves as the University of Virginia’s Provost and Executive Vice President, will assume the Penn Presidency on July 1, 2022, according to a Jan. 13 announcement from Scott Bok, Chair of Penn’s Board of Trustees. The entire Board of Trustees will vote on Magill’s nomination on March 4.
She will be the ninth Penn president.
"You can’t time these extraordinary opportunities. The process of learning much more deeply about Penn over the course of the search, both spending time with members of the committee and then learning myself about the institution — just every bit of learning — has deepened my admiration and honestly my awe of the institution from its beginning," Magill told The Daily Pennsylvanian in an interview following the announcement.
Magill began her position at UVA in 2019 after serving as the dean of Stanford Law School since 2012. Before that, she held a variety of titles at the University of Virginia School of Law, including vice dean, across a 15-year tenure. Magill also clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Liz is coming to Penn at an opportune moment,” Bok said in the press release. Bok highlighted the University's Power of Penn campaign, endowment performance, and contribution toward the invention of mRNA vaccines used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gutmann — the University's longest-serving president — will continue to serve as Penn's president until June 30, 2022, or until the United States Senate confirms her ambassadorship, which would likely accelerate her departure. President Joe Biden officially nominated Gutmann as the U.S. ambassador to Germany in early July of last year after months of speculation.
“The Penn community continues to change the world every day through world-class research, teaching, patient care, and service,” Magill said in the press release. “I look forward to working with the faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members to build on this inspiring legacy to shape Penn’s next great chapter.”
Magill received her bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University in 1988 and J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995. Upon graduation, Magill clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals and then for Ginsburg. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, held a fellowship in the Law and Public Affairs Program at Princeton University, and was a visiting professor at Downing College in Cambridge University. Magill is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Law Institute, located in Philadelphia.
Magill served as dean of Stanford Law School from 2012 to the summer of 2019, when she assumed the role of provost at UVA. At Stanford, Magill established the university’s Law and Policy Lab, a program that teaches students about policymaking, and launched the Global Initiative, an alumni-funded program which implemented global travel opportunities within the school’s curriculum.
According to the press release, Magill was a successful fundraiser at Stanford, expanded and redesigned student life initiatives with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and oversaw the law school’s largest faculty revitalization in decades.
“A devoted teacher, Magill continued as dean to make time to teach required first-year constitutional law, hosted students at her home, and relished her connection to students,” the release states.
The announcement is the latest of many changes to University administration over the course of the past year.
Three of Penn’s top administrative positions — president, provost, and chair of the Board of Trustees — have experienced turnover, as Wendell Pritchett took a leave of absence before returning to Penn this month as a senior advisor to the president, not as provost. David Cohen’s nearly 12-year run on the Board of Trustees, including a final stint as chair, came to an end in June, when Bok took over.
Penn also welcomed Whitney Soule as dean of admissions and also saw Maureen Rush, the Vice President for Public Safety and superintendent of Penn Police, retire from the University at the end of 2021.
“We are extremely fortunate to have found someone with the unique vision, integrity and compassion of Liz Magill to assume the leadership of our university,” Bok said in the release.