Gutmann, Amy

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Gutmann, Amy


President of the University of Pennsylvania

B orn November 19, 1949, in Brooklyn, NY; daughter of Kurt and Beatrice Gutmann; married Michael W. Doyle (a professor of law and international affairs), 1976; children: Abigail. Education: Radcliffe College, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1971; London School of Economics, M.S., 1972; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1976.

Addresses: Home—Philadelphia, PA. OfficeUniversity of Pennsylvania, 100 College Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6380.


A ssistant professor of politics, 1976-81, associate professor of politics, 1981-86, professor of politics, 1987-2004, director of political philosophy program, 1987-89, Andrew W. Mellon Professor, 1987-90, director of ethics and public affairs programs, 1990-95 and 1997-2000, dean of faculty, 1995-97, academic advisor to president, 1997-98, University Center for Human Values (founding director), 1990-2004, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics, 1990-2004, provost, 2001-04, all at Princeton University; president and professor of political science, University of Pennsylvania, 2004—. Also author of several books and contributor to academic journals.

Member: Executive commitee, Association of Practical and Professional Ethics, 1990—; board and executive committee, Princeton University Press, 1996-2004; board of directors, Schuylkill River Development Corporation, 2004—; National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, 2005—; executive committee, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, 2005—; board of directors, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, 2005—; board of directors, the Vanguard Group, 2006—; board of trustees, National Constitution Center, 2007—.

Awards: Ralph J. Bunche Award, American Political Science Association, for Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race, 1997; Book Award, North American Society for Social Philosophy for Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race, 1997; Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America Award, 1997; Bertram Mott Award, American Association of University Professors, 1998; President’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Princeton University, 2000; Centennial Medal, Harvard University, 2003; Alumunae Recognition Award, Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study, Harvard University, 2006.


I n 2004,Amy Gutmann became the second woman chosen to lead the University of Pennsylvania, a first in the Ivy League. A political science professor who rose to the number-two post at Princeton Uni- versity, Gutmann was also a distinguished specialist in political philosophy and gained a reputation as a strong, consensus-building executive. “I feel as I’ve never been able to feel before in my life—that I’m putting years of research and knowledge into practice,” she told Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Susan Snyder in 2007 after news that her contract had been extended until 2014. “I’m leading an enormous institution forward in ways that everybody can affirm makes a big difference to society.”

Gutmann was born in 1949 to Jewish parents living in Brooklyn at the time. Her father fled Nazi Germany in 1934 and spent several years in Bombay, India, before coming to the United States. Gutmann’s American-born mother had hoped to attend college, but her plans to become a teacher were thwarted by the Great Depression and the necessity of having to work to support her struggling family. Life for the Gutmanns was easier by the time their only child was born and, like her mother, she dreamt of becoming a teacher. “When I was in kindergarten, the only thing I remember is that I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, and then I went to high school and wanted to be a high-school teacher,” Gutmann told John Prendergast in the Pennsylvania Gazette about her earliest career ambitions. “In college, I wanted to be a college teacher.”

Gutmann grew up in Monroe, New York, an hour’s drive from New York City, in a rural working-class community where Jewish families were rare. When her father died of a heart attack before she started her senior year of high school, she and her mother worried about how to finance her college plans. “A college recruiter comes to my high school and, as I later discover, my principal tells him that I won’t need any financial aid,” Gutmann recalled in a 2003 speech on diversity in higher education that was reprinted in the Princeton Alumni Weekly. “He apparently assumed that since we’re Jewish, we are rich. I was fortunate enough to receive a full scholarship to college, and my mother, ironically enough, was hired as secretary to my high school principal.”

Gutmann was such a talented student that she scored first place in the New York State Regents’ exam in math, and was valedictorian of her 1967 graduating class of Monroe-Woodbury High School. Her scholarship was to Harvard-Radcliffe College, and she had collected enough advance credits to enter as a sophomore. When she arrived at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, school, Radcliffe was shedding its long history as the women’s college attached to Harvard, and the administrative, academic, and even residential-dormitory barriers were being dismantled. All college campuses, even the elite Ivy League schools like Harvard, witnessed episodes of protest and unrest during this era as opposition to the war in Vietnam escalated along with support for civil rights and other social-justice issues, and the atmosphere prompted Gutmann to abandon her plans for a math degree. Instead she graduated magna cum laude in 1971 with a degree in political science, and went on to earn her master’s degree from the prestigious London School of Economics a year later.

Returning to Cambridge, Gutmann entered the doctoral program in political science at Harvard, and, as she neared completion of her dissertation and planned to return to England as a Fulbright scholar, she heard of an opening at Princeton’s department of politics, as its political science department is called. She applied for it at a time when U.S. colleges and universities were eager to bring more women into tenure-track positions, and “I got the offer before I finished my dissertation,” Gutmann told New York Times journalist Anne Ruderman. “It was my first job interview ever.”

Gutmann joined the faculty of Princeton as an assistant professor of politics in 1976, the same year she married Michael Doyle, a fellow graduate student whom she had met while at Harvard; he was also hired by Princeton. After five years, she advanced to associate professor status, and earned tenure in 1987, the same year she became director of Princeton’s political philosophy program. She also headed its ethics and public affairs programs for most of the 1990s, and even briefly served as the school’s dean of faculty, though she gave it up to return to teaching and research.

During this period of her career, Gutmann published several titles. She edited works that were collections of scholarly essays by others on democracy, multiculturalism, the U.S. courts, and welfare. Her first author credit came in 1980 for Liberal Equality, published by Cambridge University Press. Her 1987 work, Democratic Education, examined the role of educational instructions in a democratic society. For several books, she collaborated with a Harvard scholar, Dennis Thompson, with whom she had taught a course at Princeton. Their joint works include Democracy and Disagreement, Identity in Democracy, and Why Deliberative Democracy? The third title refers to a concept they formulated called deliberative democracy which, Gutmann explained to Pren-dergast in the Pennsylvania Gazette, is “a way of moving forward on hard issues” like crime, health care in America, and even education. Deliberative democracy ensures that “all voices are heard. If you engage the perspectives of all of the people whose lives are affected by these issues, it is possible to arrive at a consensus that is defensible. Not unanimous, but defensible.”

Gutmann’s achievements at Princeton include helping to found the University Center for Human Values in 1990 and serving as its director for the next 14 years. In 2001, her name was mentioned as a possible candidate to become the first female president of her alma mater, Harvard—a school whose first joint commencement exercises with its women’s college, Radcliffe, had happened just a year before she earned her undergraduate degree. In 1994, Judith Rodin became the first female president of an Ivy League school (University of Pennsylvania); seven years later Ruth Simmons became president of Brown University, and Shirley Tilghman was appointed to lead Princeton. Tilghman named Gut-mann to serve as provost, the number-two job at the school, but Gutmann’s first month on the job was shaped by the tragedy of September 11, 2001, when the New York City’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. were attacked. “I had thought there was no time left in the day, but apparently I was wrong,” Gutmann recalled about her busy first weeks as provost in the New York Times interview with Ruderman. “Needless to say, I could not have anticipated writing a memorial prayer.”

Gutmann won high marks as Princeton provost, and emerged as a leading candidate for the University of Pennsylvania president’s job, from which Ro-din was retiring. Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740, the Philadelphia school is the fourth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. After a surprisingly brief search process, trustees of Penn—as the school is known informally—announced in January of 2004 that Gutmann would become the school’s eighth leader. She also achieved a new Ivy League first as the first female president to succeed a female predecessor.

Gutmann’s long and well-documented support for diversity issues was said to have been one of the key factors in Penn’s decision. Much larger than most of its Ivy League counterparts in student body and the number of graduate schools, Penn is an urban campus with close links to the Philadelphia and southern New Jersey region. The school is also Philadelphia’s largest private employer. During her first week on the job in July of 2004, Gutmann sent out an e-mail to the 93,000 living University of Pennsylvania degree-holders, asking for their suggestions. She received hundreds of responses, which served as an example of “deliberative democracy” at work. “The idea of Penn being an extended family is something that is very dear to my heart,” she added in the interview with Prendergast for the Pennsylvania Gazette. “This will be my family, and I intend to interact a lot with it and do everything I can to cultivate the kind of loyalty that is necessary to make us an even greater institution.”

In her inaugural address as president, Gutmann announced what she called the Penn Compact, whose trio of goals included increasing the diversity of the student body, bringing in top-caliber faculty, and expanding Penn’s presence in the city, the nation, and even the world. One example of the Compact in action was Community Partnership Celebration days, where Penn students volunteered at Philadelphia public schools. During her first few years on the job, Gutmann also initiated a new campus development plan, called Penn Connects, to expand eastward to the Schuylkill River by revitalizing a former industrial zone. It was also designed to make the campus less of an inaccessible “ivory tower” facility for Philadelphia residents.

In the fall of 2007, Gutmann announced that Penn had overhauled its financial aid system. Students from households with incomes of $60,000 a year or less became eligible for full tuition grants to cover the cost of one year of college, which, with room and board, had reached $46,000. It marked a far cry from the tuition rate hike that brought fees to $2,000 at Harvard-Radcliffe in 1967, the year she began college, but, even adjusted for inflation, the high costs of attending such prestigious schools put them out of reach for many hardworking parents of bright students, as she had once been. With that in mind, Penn also announced that beginning with the academic year 2008-09, students from households with incomes below $100,000 would also be eligible for loan-free aid packages. “Even before we did the low-income initiative, we knew that middle-income families were facing a squeeze,” a report by Philadelphia Inquirer writer Kathy Boccella quoted her as saying. “You begin with those with greatest need. But if you stop there, you’re not doing everything you can do.”

In 2007 Gutmann’s contract as president was extended for another five years past its 2009 expiration date, giving her a full decade on the job. The announcement of the extension was viewed as a vote of confidence for both her leadership and the success of Penn’s massive endowment-enhancement campaign already in progress. Titled “Making History,” the fund-raising program had already given Penn’s endowment a significant boost to $6.6 billion—though that paled in comparison to Harvard’s endowment of nearly $35 billion—and was crucial to the success of the Penn Compact to help a more diverse section of students attend the school while also luring prominent scholars and researchers to its faculty.

Gutmann earns a salary of $675,000 annually as Penn’s president, along with benefits and the use of an official residence called Eisenlohr on Walnut Street. Her husband is a Columbia University professor of law and international affairs, and their daughter, Abigail Gutmann Doyle, was following in both parents’ footsteps by planning to enter academia after earning her doctorate in chemistry from Harvard. Gutmann is a popular and respected university president, winning high marks from students, faculty, and alumni. The sole negative criticism associated with her came after a Halloween party held at Eisenlohr in the fall of 2006, a longstanding Penn tradition. Some 700 costumed students attended that year, and having a photograph with the University president is also a time-honored tradition. Gutmann posed with an engineering student dressed as a suicide bomber who also toted a toy automatic gun. When the photograph circulated on the Internet, some questioned her judgment in seeming to condone terrorism. In response, her office released a statement that read, according to the Weekly Standard, that “the costume is clearly offensive and I was offended by it. As soon as I realized what his costume was, I refused to take any more pictures with him, as he requested. The student had the right to wear the costume just as I, and others, have a right to criticize his wearing of it.”



Newsweek International, October 22, 2007.

New York Times, September 30, 2001.

Pennsylvania Gazette, September-October 2004.

Philadelphia Inquirer, January 22, 2004; October 23, 2007; December 18, 2007.

USA Today, June 5, 2006, p. 3B.

Weekly Standard, November 13, 2006.


“Why Does Diversity Matter?,” Princeton Alumni Weekly, (May 14, 2008).

—Carol Brennan