January 16, 2024

By J. Larry Jameson, Interim President

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of Dr. Claire M. Fagin, former interim president of the University of Pennsylvania and former dean of the School of Nursing.

Dr. Fagin will be remembered for myriad accomplishments, including the distinction of being one of the first women to lead an Ivy League institution and being the first female interim president of Penn, in 1993-94.

In that position, she provided a vital link between the accomplishments of the Martin Meyerson and Sheldon Hackney administrations and the promise of the Judith Rodin administration that was to follow. Dr. Fagin led during a challenging time and very much served the role of healer, seeking broad community input, and implementing many of the recommendations that inform our policies of open expression, respect, and civil discourse today. She subsequently returned to teaching and research among the Nursing faculty, where she served until her retirement in 1996.

As dean of Penn Nursing, she was a passionate advocate for universal health care, nursing education, and the advancement of women in health-related fields.

For her extraordinary accomplishments, Dr. Fagin was presented with the Alumni Award of Merit in 1991, and the Penn Club of New York named her the 2012 honoree for the Guggenheim Honor Cup. She also received the nursing profession’s highest honor, the Honorary Recognition Award of the American Nurses Association, along with many other accolades and many honorary degrees. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Fagin will be remembered for her impact on the people of Penn—her mentorship, role-modeling, and her ability to bridge divides. She was admired, respected, and revered by all who knew her.

It heartens us to know her legacy at the University lives on through the Claire M. Fagin Leadership Chair in Nursing, the Claire M. Fagin Distinguished Researcher Award, the Claire and Sam Fagin Scholarship, and the Nursing School’s Claire M. Fagin Hall, all named in her honor.

A University celebration of Dr. Fagin’s life and achievements will be held in the spring.