The United States Senate has officially confirmed Penn President Amy Gutmann as the next U.S. ambassador to Germany.
Gutmann was confirmed by a vote of 54 to 42 when the Senate convened Tuesday afternoon. President Joe Biden officially nominated Gutmann after months of speculation on July 2, 2021. Shortly after the confirmation, Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bok wrote in an email to the University community that Gutmann has officially resigned the Penn presidency and that she "will shortly be departing Philadelphia for Berlin."
"On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire University community, I want to thank Amy for the extraordinary work she has done in leading the University of Pennsylvania," Bok wrote. "Her tenure as President has been among the most impactful in Penn’s history. She has led Penn to new heights of eminence and in doing so established herself as one of the most highly regarded academic leaders in the world."
Former Provost Wendell Pritchett, who serves as senior advisor to Gutmann, was tapped as interim president last week and will serve in that role until M. Elizabeth Magill begins her term as the University’s ninth president on July 1, 2022. Magill was nominated on Jan. 13, and the entire Board of Trustees will vote on her nomination in early March.
While Gutmann was confirmed with bipartisan support, she faced questions from Republican senators about the University’s monetary ties to China throughout her Senate committee hearings.
During her senate committee hearing last December, Ranking Committee Member Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) referenced a recent report from the U.S. Department of Education that showed that Penn has received $86 million in donations and contracts from China since 2014.
Risch asked Gutmann to explain her role in accepting these donations, and she explained that China’s contributions do not represent a large portion of donations given to Penn, and “[the University] gets about one gift every few minutes.”
In her testimony, Gutmann also spoke about how her father’s emigration from Germany at the start of the Holocaust has impacted her perceptions of democracy and taught her to “always stand up against antisemitism, racism, and all forms of hatred, bigotry, and discrimination.”
Penn professors previously told The Daily Pennsylvanian that they are confident in Gutmann's ability to rebuild the United States’ relationship with Germany after conflicts between former President Donald Trump and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel caused rifts between the two nations.
Gutmann is not the only Penn affiliate that will be serving as a U.S. ambassador under Biden’s presidency. Last November, 1981 Penn Law graduate and former Board of Trustees Chair David Cohen was confirmed by the Senate to serve as U.S. ambassador to Canada.
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R- Pa.) was one of six Republican senators to vote in favor of the confirmation. He released a statement congratulating Gutmann on her confirmation, writing that her “accomplishments as one of the longest-serving presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and her commitment to global leadership have prepared her well for the role of ambassador.”