History of the Presidency

Biographical sketches of Penn Presidents (including Acting and Interim Presidents) and historically significant aspects of University history during each administration.

1981-1993

Francis Sheldon Hackney, President

Born 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama
Died in 2013 on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

B.A., Vanderbilt University
M.A., Yale University, 1955
Ph.D., Yale University, 1963
Hon. LL.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1966

  • Assistant Professor, Princeton University, 1965-1969
  • Associate Professor, Princeton University, 1969-1972
  • Professor and Provost, Princeton University, 1972-1975
  • President, Tulane University, 1975-1980
  • Author, From Populism to Progressivism in Alabama, 1969
  • Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania, 1981-2013
  • Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1993-1997
  • President Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania, 1999-2013

University history during the Hackney administration:

  • 1982: The Wharton School's Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall completed and occupied.
  • 1983: "Choosing Penn's Future" was formally adopted as the strategic plan of the Hackney administration. It established a framework of four priorities and three "special challenges" for the decade that followed.

  • The priorities were:
    a) the University's quality is the strength of its faculty;
    b) the University must conserve its resources and protect its financial integrity;
    c) the University's special character is reflected in the diversity of interest and people it attracts to its community; and
    d) the University's scale must ensure the highest academic quality of its students and research efforts.

    The special challenges were:
    a) undergraduate education;
    b) research excellence; and
    c) student financial assistance.




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  • 1985: Michael S. Brown (B.A. 1962; M.D. 1966) awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine
  • 1986: Seeley G. Mudd Biological Sciences Building completed and occupied.
  • 1987: 3401 Walnut Street building completed and occupied.
  • 1989: Campaign for Penn launched.

Biographical sketches of Penn Presidents (including Acting and Interim Presidents) and historically significant aspects of University history during each administration.