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Report of the Ad Hoc Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Provost
July 14, 2009, Volume 56, No. 01

The Ad Hoc Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Provost was convened by President Amy Gutmann on December 22, 2008. During its four months of work, the full Committee met on ten occasions and reported its recommendations to the President on April 16, 2009. The Committee members were:


Sherrill Adams (Dental Medicine)
Linda Aiken (Nursing)
Eugenie Birch (Design)
Eric Bradlow (Wharton)
Deborah Driscoll (Medicine)
John Jackson (ASC/SAS)
Susan Margulies (SEAS)
Charles Mooney (Law)
Christopher Murray (SEAS/SAS)
Reed Pyeritz (Medicine)
Thomas Robertson (Wharton), Chair
Barbara Savage (SAS)


Zachary Fuchs, (C’09/W’09; President, SCUE)
Andrew Rennekamp, (PhD’11, SOM; Chair, GAPSA)
Nicole Thorpe, (MCP’09, Design; Vice Chair for Student Life, GAPSA)
Wilson Tong, (C’09/W’09; Chair, UA)

The search was supported by Stephen P. Steinberg, Advisor to the President, Adam Michaels of the Office of the President, and Barbara Stevens and Philip Jaeger of the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller.

The Committee and its consultants conducted informational interviews and consultative meetings with individuals and groups throughout the Penn community, as well as many informal contacts, in order to better understand the scope, expectations, and challenges of the Provost’s position and the opportunities facing the University in the years ahead. These consultative activities included full Committee meetings with former Provost Ron Daniels, Associate Provosts Andrew Binns and Vincent Price, Vice Provost for Research Steven Fluharty, Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, and Executive Vice President for the Health System and Dean of the School of Medicine Arthur Rubenstein.  In addition, the Chair met with the Council of Deans, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee (SEC), and the Board of the Weekly-Paid Professional Staff Assembly (WPSA), and participated in an open meeting for professional staff, sponsored by the Penn Professional Staff Assembly (PPSA). The consultants interviewed administrators throughout the Provost’s Center and dozens of individuals and groups in the Penn community and sought nominations from presidents, provosts, and deans of all the AAU universities, as well as knowledgeable individuals at the AAAS, NSF, and other organizations. Finally, members of the Committee engaged in extensive networking with Penn faculty and students, as well as colleagues at other institutions. The Committee also solicited advice and nominations from all Penn faculty, Deans, and senior administrators via e-mail, and reviewed a variety of documents about the University. 

Based upon these conversations and materials, the Committee’s charge from the President, and the Committee’s own discussions, a comprehensive document was prepared outlining the scope of the position and the challenges a new Provost will face, as well as the qualities sought in a new Provost. The vacancy was announced (and input invited from the entire Penn community) in Almanac and advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, Higher Education Jobs, Hispanic Outlook, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Women in Higher Education, and The Economist. 

The Committee sought a distinguished scholar with impeccable academic judgment, an uncompromising commitment to academic distinction and diversity, and the ability to manage a large and complex academic enterprise; an individual who could help lead Penn’s continuing movement from excellence to eminence, who could work closely with the President, Penn’s outstanding deans, and its distinguished faculty to realize the vision of the Penn Compact for the University’s future academic development, and who could engage and enhance campus intellectual life by recruiting and retaining the most eminent scholars and attracting the most talented students. The Committee sought candidates who could identify with Penn’s unique ethos and identity; who possessed a passion for teaching, education, research, and engagement with Penn’s community and the wider world; who could think creatively across silos and facilitate the potential for collaborative activities across all boundaries; who could employ his or her understanding of University finances, budgeting, and fundraising to marshal and direct resources to strategic academic priorities; and who could be an articulate advocate for the academic mission of the University and its commitment to eminence. 

The Committee considered more than 180 individuals for the position. From these, the Committee selected 12 individuals for semi-finalist interviews with the entire Committee. Based on voluntary self-identifications and other sources, we believe the initial pool of 181 applicants, nominees, and active candidates contained 33 women and 148 men, and at least 16 African-Americans, 1 Latino, 10 foreign nationals, and 17 internal nominees. After discussing six of these candidates in detail with the Committee and conducting further interviews, background checks, and exhaustive reference conversations, President Gutmann announced on May 28, 2009 (see Almanac Between Issues, 5/28/09) the selection of Vincent Edward Price to be the 29th Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, effective July 1, 2009, following approval of the Trustees at their June meeting. 

A leading global expert on public opinion, social influence, and political communication and a seasoned academic administrator, Dr. Price is the Steven H. Chaffee Term Professor of Communication in Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication, with a secondary appointment as Professor of Political Science in the School of Arts and Sciences, and became Interim Provost on March 1, 2009, following the resignation of Ron Daniels. He will be a superb partner with Penn’s deans, faculty, staff, students, and President Gutmann in leading the University in the years ahead and advancing the Penn Compact.

—Thomas S. Robertson, Dean, The Wharton School, and Chair, Ad Hoc Consultative Committee for the Selection of a Provost

Related: University of Pennsylvania Provost: Vincent Price

Almanac - July 14, 2009, Volume 56, No. 01