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Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber (center) and Louise “Weezy” Sams (right), chair of the Princeton Board of Trustees, stand with the 2022 honorary degree recipients just before the Commencement ceremony. (Left to right) Eve Marder, Frederick W. Smith, Brent Henry, Fred David Gray, Amy Gutmann (Photo by Denise Applewhite). Photo byDenise Applewhite, Office of Communications

U.S. Ambassador to Germany and former Penn President Amy Gutmann received an honorary degree at Princeton University’s 2022 Commencement ceremony on May 24.

Gutmann received a Doctor of Laws degree for her achievements in higher education and philosophy. She was one of five recipients selected for Princeton's honorary degrees this year alongside Frederick Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx, and Fred Gray, leading civil rights attorney who represented Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.

Gutmann was honored in the statement for her work in significantly expanding the number of low income and first generation students at Penn, as well as her most recent achievement as the first woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Germany. 

Gutmann was praised by Louise Sams, the Chair of the Princeton’s Board of Trustees, as “one of the world’s preeminent political philosophers” on account of her “groundbreaking work on democratic political theory and ethics of public life.” 

“Whether as a scholar, university leader, or diplomat, she has dedicated her life to expanding education, advancing democracy, and serving the nation,” Sams said in her speech. 

Gutmann was deeply involved in the Princeton community for almost 30 years. She taught at the University for over a decade before becoming the Laurence S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics in 1990. She later served as dean of the faculty and academic advisor to the president before eventually becoming the University’s provost in 2001, a position Gutmann left in 2004 to become Penn's ninth president.

Gutmann’s emeritus faculty page on the Princeton University website describes her impact as “an extraordinary record of excellence in teaching, scholarship, and institutional service” that has made her “one of the University’s most valued citizens and one of America’s preeminent scholars and educators."

This year, Gutmann also received an honorary Doctor of Law degree at Penn’s own Commencement. Other recipients included Ken Burns, the commencement speaker and award-winning documentary filmmaker, and Mary Frances Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, History, and Africana Studies Emerita at Penn.

At Penn, Gutmann was a professor of communication and the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science. She oversaw the creation of an innovation ecosystem and made Penn the largest U.S. university offering financial aid that meets the full need of undergraduates. She now serves as the U.S. ambassador to Germany.