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(Left to right) former Penn President Amy Gutmann, Penn President Liz Magill, and former Penn President Judith Rodin. Credit: Jesse Zhang

The confirmation of former Penn President Amy Gutmann as the United States ambassador to Germany at the beginning of 2022 set into motion a months-long presidential transition, in which the University saw three presidents over less than 12 months.

Jan. 12 — The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations confirmed Gutmann as the next U.S. ambassador to Germany — cutting short the planned final year of her presidency, which was to end on June 30, 2022 after her contract was extended in 2016. At that point, Gutmann had served as Penn president since 2004, making her the longest-serving president in University history. Some members of the committee voted against Gutmann during the Senate committee hearing, citing concerns regarding Chinese donations to the University under Gutmann’s presidency.

Jan. 13 — Liz Magill is named the University’s ninth president. At that point, she was serving as the University of Virginia’s provost and executive vice president. Previously, Magill had served as the dean of Stanford Law School since 2012 before beginning her position at UVA in 2019.

Feb. 4 — Penn selected former Provost Wendell Pritchett as interim president until June 30, 2022, pending Gutmann's imminent confirmation as U.S. ambassador to Germany. Pritchett, a Penn Carey Law faculty member and interim dean, had recently returned from a medical leave of absence that he took in May 2021 through the end of the fall 2021 semester. He was also the first Black individual to serve as Penn president.

Feb. 8 — The U.S. Senate officially confirmed Gutmann as the next U.S. ambassador to Germany by a vote of 54 to 42. Shortly after the confirmation, Gutmann officially resigned from the Penn presidency after an 18-year career.

March 4 — Magill is officially confirmed as Penn's president by the Board of Trustees, marking her first public appearance on campus since her nomination as Penn president. An avid fly fisher in her spare time, Magill is the University’s third consecutive female president to be inaugurated. 

Aug. 29 — Over 100 protestors interrupted Magill minutes into her first convocation speech. The protestors, including members of the Class of 2026 and the Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes, began chanting “Save the UC Townhomes” and “Stop Penn-trification!” protesting the sale of the UC Townhomes, 70 units of affordable housing. 

Oct. 11 Magill formed the Red and Blue Advisory Committee to inform the University's strategic framework over the next century. Chaired by John L. Jackson Jr., the dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, the committee consists of 16 members from across the University — including professors, administrators, and students.

Oct. 21Magill is inaugurated as Penn’s ninth president, formally commencing her tenure which started on July 1, 2022. As part of the inauguration festivities, Penn held a picnic and concert featuring musicians Sheryl Crow and Jeff Tweedy to celebrate Magill’s inauguration. The University also held an academic symposium with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Kagan is a former colleague of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom Magill clerked for after completing law school.

Check out the rest of the DP’s Year in Review content here.