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Anna Cowenhoven has been selected as vice president for University Communications (Photo courtesy of University of Pennsylvania).

Anna Cowenhoven has been selected as vice president for University Communications, according to an announcement made Tuesday by Penn President Liz Magill.

Cowenhoven, who will assume her role on Aug. 21, is coming to Penn from Harvard University. She will replace Stephen MacCarthy, who has led University Communications for nearly 12 years and will retire at the end of June. Since 2017, she has served as the senior executive director and associate dean for communications for Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. 

“Anna brings a track record of great achievement in communications, and she will be an exceptional Penn leader,” Magill said in the announcement. “She cares deeply about communicating the value of higher education to society, and she brings a strategic, creative, and collaborative approach to leading in an ever-changing media landscape.”

As vice president for University Communications, Cowenhoven will be responsible for developing and implementing a long-term communications strategy for Penn. She will also serve as a strategic advisor to the president and other senior University officers and oversee Penn’s internal and external communications operations. 

Upon MacCarthy's retirement on June 30, Associate Vice President for University Communications Moira Baylson will serve as the acting vice president for University Communications until Cowenhoven arrives in August. Magill described Cowenhoven as “an ideal successor who will build on the tradition of excellence” that MacCarthy established.

Cowenhoven was the senior vice president for corporate affairs at the Bank of America Charitable Foundation prior to entering the world of higher education. She has also held writing, editing, and media relations positions at Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the American Cancer Society.

In the announcement, Cowenhoven emphasized her enthusiasm for coming to Penn and taking on her new role. 

“I have long admired Penn’s rich history as America’s first university, and its commitment to educational access, interdisciplinary discovery and applied knowledge, and public service,” she said. “I look forward to working alongside communicators across the university to help tell Penn’s powerful story.”