On the rainy afternoon of June 20, a few days after we had completed work on this issue of the Gazette, a bombshell arrived in the form of an e-mail. It came from Dr. Judith Rodin CW’66, and was addressed to the University community.
“This morning I informed the Board of Trustees, together in Philadelphia for their June meeting, of my intention to step down from the presidency of Penn at the end of June 2004,” the e-mail began. By then she will have served as president for 10 years, she noted, and she described her service to the University as “an extraordinary privilege and an exhilarating experience.”
By just about any measure, it has been a remarkably successful tenure, a subject we will address more in future issues.
“Through her vision, creativity, and boundless energy,” said James Riepe W’65 WG’67, chairman of Penn’s trustees, “Judy has provided extraordinary leadership to Penn over these past nine years—strengthening undergraduate, graduate, and professional education; revitalizing the campus and community; increasing fundraising; and dramatically enhancing the University’s national reputation. Penn today is a stronger and more vibrant institution than at any time in our history.”
“The decision to step down has been an extremely difficult one for me to make,” Rodin acknowledged, “but I believe it is the right time for Penn. We have successfully fulfilled our first bold strategic plan, “Agenda for Excellence,” and with the next plan conceived and ready to launch, it is a perfect time for new leadership. I love this institution and will always remain a part of it.”
Tangible steps have already been taken to make sure she does indeed remain a part of Penn. Not only have the trustees asked her to assume a “newly created part-time position as Chancellor to remain actively engaged in fundraising,” but she will remain on the faculty as well. She is currently professor of psychology and professor of medicine and psychiatry.
“I look back with great pride at all that our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners have together enabled Penn to accomplish these past nine years,” she said, “and I know that the years ahead will be full of successes as well.”