Wendell E. Pritchett
James S. Riepe Presidential Professor of Law and Education
Wendell Pritchett is Penn’s Interim President and the James S. Riepe Presidential Professor of Law and Education. Pritchett previously served as provost at Penn from July 1, 2017, through July 1, 2021.
An award-winning scholar, author, lawyer, professor, and civic and academic leader, Pritchett served from 2009-14 as Chancellor of Rutgers University-Camden, leading unprecedented growth that included graduating classes of record sizes, the first campus doctoral programs, and new health education and science facilities. In Philadelphia, he has been deputy chief of staff and director of policy for Mayor Michael Nutter, chair of the Redevelopment Authority, member of the School Reform Commission, president of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, board chair of the Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and executive director of the district offices of Congressman Thomas Foglietta, among many other board and leadership positions. He has served as president of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, a board member of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, co-chair of Mayor Nutter’s transition committee, and co-chair of President Barack Obama’s Urban Policy Task Force.
He first joined the Penn Law faculty in 2002, and served as interim dean from 2014-15 and as associate dean for academic affairs from 2006-07. Before coming to Penn, he was an assistant professor of history at Baruch College of the City University of New York and an attorney in housing, real estate, and employment law. His scholarly work focuses on urban history, especially housing, race relations, and economic development. His first book, “Brownsville, Brooklyn: Blacks, Jews and the Changing Face of the Ghetto,” traces the evolution of a working-class community as its population shifted from largely Jewish and working-class to largely African-American and poor, becoming in the process a microcosm of 20th-century urban history and class aspiration.
His second book, “Robert Clifton Weaver and the American City: The Life and Times of an Urban Reformer,” explores the life of the first U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who was also the first African American to be a U.S. cabinet secretary, as a reflection of the changes in racial and urban policy that defined the 20th century. He is the author of numerous major articles and reviews, including “Which Urban Crisis?,” named the Best Article of the Year in 2008 by the Urban History Association, which assesses the extent to which the so-called “urban crisis” of the 1960s and 1970s became identified as much with racial conflict as with metropolitan growth. In 2020, he co-edited a new volume “Perspectives on Fair Housing,” part of the Penn Press series.
Pritchett earned a Ph.D. in History from Penn (1997), a J.D. from Yale Law School (1991), and a bachelor’s in Political Science from Brown University (1986).