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The Rodin Decade: Growth and Transformation

Click here to see Honors for President Rodin.

Trustee Chairman James Riepe presented the following citation and conferred an honorary degree upon President Judith Rodin at last week's Commencement.

The Rodin Decade: Growth and Transformation

Citation: President Rodin

Most universities are lucky to have a pioneering scholar and visionary leader of your caliber pass their way once every 250 years. Penn was blessed to get you twice.

As a Mayor's Scholar out of Girls' High, you became an undergraduate sensation at Penn both in the psychology department, where your professors spotted your talents, and in politics, where, as president of the women's student government, you helped to lay the groundwork for a merger with the men's student government.

You have been blazing trails ever since. Not long after earning your doctorate in psychology at Columbia, you joined the psychology faculty at Yale, where you spent the next two decades discovering and explaining the biological and psychological factors that lead to obesity.

You helped launch the women's health movement, and you expanded our understanding of aging by demonstrating that elderly people who are empowered lead more active, healthier, and longer lives than those who are consigned to helplessness.

In 1994, you left Yale, where you had served as provost, and returned to your alma mater to become the first woman president of an Ivy League University. You immediately energized the Penn community to implement a bold agenda of growth and change.

You led a revolutionary transformation of undergraduate education. You launched an innovative college house system, as well as sensational student hubs for writing, community service, technology, and research.

You boosted Penn's academic capacity through strategic investments that attracted top-flight faculty, beautified the campus, supported new amenities, doubled federal research funding, and tripled our endowment.

You led an unprecedented effort to transform a neighborhood in distress into a thriving, sustainable urban oasis. You discerned inextricable links between Penn's future and the economic and social health of University City, and it was your genius to create the dynamic in which the West Philadelphia initiative would benefit Penn and it's neighbors.

If our founder Benjamin Franklin is the first citizen of Penn, you are a close second--and only by virtue of Franklin's seniority.

In gratitude for a remarkable decade of leading Penn through a period of spectacular growth and transformation, and in appreciation of a brilliant career in higher education, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to confer upon you, Judith Rodin, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

During the past ten years since Dr. Judith Rodin became Penn's president, the University's campus and its international reputation have grown in perceptible ways. The transformation is exemplified by numerous connections to the community. Since returning to her alma mater where she had been president of the women's student government in her days as an undergraduate, Dr. Rodin has created a living legacy.

poster board

welcome home
Photo by Karen C. Gaines


Judy and Alex
Photo by Karen C. Gaines

Ten years ago, then-Trustee Chairman Al Shoemaker* accompanied newly-nominated president Rodin, and her son, Alex across campus.


sign on walk
Photo by Marguerite Miller

The plaque in honor of two Penn alumni--Morris Seitz, and his daughter, Judith Seitz Rodin, at the Generational Bridge, outside Jon M. Huntsman Hall.


Photo by Marguerite Miller

King Solomon (1963) by Alexander Archipenko, a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey H. Loria, to Penn in honor of the inauguration of President Judith Rodin, October 21, 1994.

Photo by Marguerite Miller

Looking at University Square through a steel sculpture by Jose De Rivera  (1959) in the lobby of the renovated Annenberg School for Communication. 


University Square

Wireless PennNet@University Square debuted in 2002.


Sadie School
Photo by Stuart Watson

President Judith Rodin at the ribbon-cutting for the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School in fall 2002.


parking garage
Photo by Marguerite Miller

The garage at 38th and Walnut.


kelly gates

The Kelly Family Gates by Mark Lueders, dedicated last May--at the entrance to the Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall--provide a whimsical welcome and personify the creative spirit.

sculpturePhoto by Marguerite Miller

Grande Venus (1915) by Pierre Auguste Renoir, a gift of Mr. & Mrs. Jeffrey H. Loria, at the entrance to the Office of the President in College Hall.



The Class of 1949 Generational Bridge (connecting Locust Walk, over 38th Street) and the Women's Walkway were  dedicated in November 2001 to commemorate 125 Years of Women at Penn.


*Correction: Originally, the then-Trustee Chairman was misidentified as Paul Miller. The correct person is Al Shoemaker.



  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 34, May 25, 2004