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Bold Leader Spotlight: University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann

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For Amy Gutmann, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) has been her home for some time. Having been named UPenn’s president in 2004, she is currently the longest-tenured president in the history of the university. Given that UPenn is the oldest university in the nation, that says quite a bit. However, for anyone who knows Amy Gutmann, it’s really not surprising. Not only has she exhibited extraordinary bold leadership at UPenn, but Amy Gutmann has also done so much during turbulent times. Certainly, a closer look at the impact Amy Gutmann’s bold leadership has made at UPenn is deserving.

Hard-Earned Bold Leadership from Humble Beginnings

No silver spoon helped Amy Gutmann achieve the incredible success that she has. Amy Gutmann was the daughter of a low-income refugee who fled Nazi Germany to reside in New York. As an only child, she settled into her New York surroundings and went to work. Her diligence and academic prowess earned her a spot at Harvard Radcliffe where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She attained her Masters and Doctorate degrees in political science before joining the faculty at Princeton. Each step of the way, Amy Gutmann earned the accolades she achieved.

After the title of Princeton provost was awarded to Amy Gutmann, The University of Pennsylvania offered her the position of president in 2004. At UPenn, Amy Gutmann has made a tremendous impact on countless communities and individuals. In 2016, the board of trustees renewed her presidency at UPenn through 2022 because of her stellar performance. Very few have questioned this acknowledgment of support. Throughout her tenure at UPenn, Amy Gutman has demonstrated consistency in her leadership and values. More than anything in recent times, Amy Gutmann has played a tremendous role in UPenn’s current success.

A Bold Leader Driven by Lasting Values and Positive Results

UPenn values are at the heart of everything that Amy Gutmann does. Values such as inclusion, civic engagement, and constructive dialogue are ones she has cited frequently. With this in mind,  she has pursued several objectives while at UPenn. With Amy Gutmann at the helm, The University of Pennsylvania has tripled its number of endowments during her presidency. These endowments have gone to promote student access to the college through grant programs previously not available.

Expanding on these objectives and results,  she has sought to address major criticisms of UPenn as well. During her presidency, Amy Gutmann has increased opportunities for 1st generation college students three-fold at UPenn. She also has advanced faculty diversity through the inclusion of higher numbers of ethnic professors and deans. She has also created educational programs that invite diverse political views to promote dialogue and compromise. As evident by all of these actions, Amy Gutmann’s bold leadership is clearly results-driven and values-based.

Challenging Norms for Innovation and Advancement

Bold leaders aren’t afraid of change. In fact, most invite challenges in an effort to empower others and promote improvements for all. Such is the case for Amy Gutmann. Through the course of her presidency at UPenn, Amy Gutmann has challenged continuously those around her. UPenn now has a $35 million Pennovation Complex where student entrepreneurs can test out innovative ideas as a result. UPenn’s nanotechnology center also encourages the same innovation.

Amy Gutmann President of the University of Pennsylvania cartoon
As president at UPenn, Amy Gutmann values her leadership role by empowering students to pursue change for the betterment of society.

As president at UPenn, Amy Gutmann values her leadership role for the thousands of undergraduates and graduates she oversees. By empowering them to pursue change for the betterment of society, she truly embraces bold pursuits. There is so much appreciation in such pursuits as Amy Gutmann’s innovation grants that senior students receive. Grants of $150,000 are awarded to select students after graduation to encourage them to make a difference in the world.  Such projects have actually resulted in education centers for women and health centers in underprivileged areas of the world.

Inclusion, Dialogue, and Compromise for All of Society

Having a doctorate in political science, Amy Gutmann is keenly aware of the divisive nature of society today surrounding politics. At the same time, she leads a prestigious liberal-leaning Ivy League university which boasts the current U.S. president as a graduate. However, rather than being divisive, Amy Gutmann chooses to educate, include, and compromise as part of her bold leadership strategy. Her recruitment of both Jeb Bush and Joe Biden to share in bipartisan student educational programs highlight such an approach.

Overall, Amy Gutmann’s bold leadership at UPenn reflects important values, ethics, and a commitment to excellence. Through diligence and hard work, she has excelled as one of the most powerful women leaders in academia.

Through inviting and incentivizing change, she is making the world a better place one student at a time. When asked if she may ever choose to go into politics, Amy Gutmann has acknowledged UPenn as her home. Based on her bold leadership accomplishments while there, Amy Gutmann appears well justified in continuing on as UPenn’s leader.

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