After a nine-year tenure as the Ivy League’s first female president, Judith Rodin, president of the University of Pennsylvania and a former Yale provost, announced June 20 that she will step down in June 2004.
During Rodin’s tenure at Penn, the university’s endowment and annual fund raising both more than tripled. Upon assuming the presidency, Rodin became the first Penn alumnus to become president of the university.
She said next year seemed to be an appropriate time to end her presidency.
“The decision to step down has been an incredibly difficult one for me to make, but I believe it is the right time for Penn,” Rodin said in a letter to Penn students, faculty and staff. “We have successfully fulfilled our first bold strategic plan — and with the next plan already conceived and ready to launch, it is a perfect time for new leadership.”
Prior to assuming the presidency at Penn in 1994, Rodin served on Yale’s faculty for 22 years, including a two-year tenure as provost. When she resigns in June, Rodin will have served as Penn’s president for a decade. She is the second longest-serving Ivy League president currently sitting, after Yale President Richard Levin, who began his tenure in 1993. Rodin will continue to be a member of Penn’s faculty when her term ends.
Prior to her appointment as Yale provost, Rodin served two years as chairwoman of the Psychology Department one year as dean of the graduate school. Both Rodin and the provost who succeeded her — Alison Richard, who was appointed vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge this year — were tapped to head a major institution while serving as Yale’s provost.
Levin said Rodin was a “great contributor” to Yale and a valuable leader at Penn.
“I think she made important contributions to Penn and no doubt the work that was done at Penn to enhance the undergraduate programs and improve conditions of the surrounding neighborhoods have both been important long-term contributions,” Levin said.
James Riepe, chairman of Penn’s Board of Trustees, said in a press release that in upcoming months, the board will appoint a presidential search committee composed of trustees, faculty members and students. He said because Rodin provided the trustees with a full year’s notice, it will be unnecessary to appoint an interim president.
Riepe praised Rodin for her leadership.
“Through her vision, creativity, and boundless energy, Judy has provided extraordinary leadership to Penn over these past nine years, strengthening undergraduate, graduate and professional education, revitalizing the campus and community, increasing fund raising and dramatically enhancing the University’s national reputation,” Riepe said. “Our physical resources have never been better, we are on firm financial footing, and our relations with our city and community are the best they have been in decades.”
Penn spokeswoman Lori Doyle said Rodin plans to remain active in Penn’s fund raising activities.
Rodin, who launched many initiatives to improve West Philadelphia, said she looks forward to working with public and private organizations to improve America’s cities.
“Over the years, I’ve been asked by mayors and foundations to help them to replicate Penn’s strategies and I’ve never had the time,” Rodin said. “This, coupled with my teaching and writing on leadership and civic engagement, and my service on corporate and community boards, is an overflowing agenda.”