History of the Presidency

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

1994-2004

Judith Rodin, President

Born 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1966
Ph.D. in Psychology, Columbia University, 1970

  • Assistant Professor of Psychology, New York University, 1970-1972
  • Associate Professor of Psychology, Yale University, 1973-1978
  • Professor of Psychology and Director of Graduate Studies, Yale University, 1978-1984
  • Philip R. Allen Professor of Psychology, Medicine, and Psychiatry, Yale University, 1984-1994
  • Chair, Department of Psychology, Yale University, 1989-1991
  • Dean, Graduate School, Yale University, 1991-1992
  • Provost, Yale University, 1992-1994
  • First permanent female president of an Ivy League University
  • Penn honorary degree 2004 - Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
  • President Emerita, 2004-present

Key accomplishments during President Rodin’s tenure:

  • 1994: The University launched the West Philadelphia Initiative, which sought to fundamentally improve the West Philadelphia neighborhood economy through a major financial and administrative University commitment.
  • 1994: The 21st Century Project for the Undergraduate Experience led to dramatic improvements in undergraduate life at Penn, including the creation of a comprehensive College House system of 11 College Houses.
  • 1995: The Agenda for Excellence, the University’s strategic plan for 1995-2000: named undergraduate education as a central area for improvement, along with graduate and professional education.
  • 1997: The University City District (UCD), a special-services district funded by West Philadelphia's major institutional employers, was established to improve the quality of life in the 2.2 square mile area of West Philadelphia in close proximity to the University.
  • 1998: Opening of Sansom Common, a large mixed-use development, including a new Penn Bookstore, the Inn at Penn, three restaurants, and a variety of retail establishments which created a destination location for the University and the broader community.
  • 1998: Creation of the Penn Alexander School.  Penn partnered with the School District of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to open a new, University-assisted Pre-K-through-8 public school in the heart of University City, with innovative learning environments and smaller class sizes.
  • 2000: Penn Professor of Chemistry Alan MacDiarmid wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
  • 2001: Creation of Penn Medicine.  Penn Medicine was established in November 2001 by the Trustees of the University as the single governing body, reporting to the University Board of Trustees, for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the School of Medicine, under the leadership of a single Executive Vice President of the University for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine.
  • 2002: Penn Physicist Raymond Davies Jr. wins the Nobel Prize for his work in neutrinos.
  • 2002: The David Pottruck Health & Fitness Center opens.
  • 2003:  A new strategic plan, Building on Excellence: The Leadership Agenda, was adopted.
  • 2004: Melvin J. and Claire Levine Hall, a new computer and information science building for the School of Engineering and Applied Science, opens.

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