The University of Pennsylvania has hired a lawyer and academic who once led Stanford Law School and now serves as dean of the University of Virginia to replace Amy Guttman, its longest-serving president.
M announced. Elizabeth Magill, 56, who will become Pence’s third consecutive president, will begin her duties on July 1, Benn announced Thursday. It has been nominated by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees and will be voted on by the full Board on March 4.
Magill, a researcher in administrative and constitutional law, will succeed Guttmann, 72, who is likely to become the next US ambassador to Germany later this year, after serving at the University of Pennsylvania for nearly 18 years. A political scientist with witty and thoughtful leadership style, the energetic Gottman—who has set fundraising records, made student financial assistance a priority, and has overseen major construction projects including the Nanotechnology Center, the 24-acre Penn Park, and the $35 million Pennovation Complex—leaves a shoe Big to fill it up.
»Read more: Amy Guttman: Ben’s longtime boss seeks to heal the rift
“I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to lead the wonderful institution that is the University of Pennsylvania—and to succeed Dr. Amy Guttman, who was a visionary and innovative pioneer,” Magill said in a statement. “…I look forward to working with faculty, students, staff, alumni, and members of the community to build on this inspiring legacy and shape the next wonderful chapter at Penn.”
With 12 schools, more than 23,000 undergraduate, graduate, and full-time professional students, and a health system, Penn is Philadelphia’s largest private employer. It is one of the best resourced colleges in the country, with an endowment of more than $20 billion last June.
Noting the challenge of operating such a large and complex system, Scott Bock, chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Trustees, said in a statement that Magill is the ideal candidate for the job. He described her as an “extraordinarily accomplished academic leader” who “has held senior leadership positions at two of the nation’s most respected academic institutions, each with a broad range of activities that parallel the broad scope of Penn.”
“She is someone who cares about others and has a long history of dealing with the communities in which her institutions operate,” said Bock, an investment banker.
»Read more: Amy Guttman faced questions about Benn’s donations from China at ambassadorial hearing
Ben did not release Magill’s salary. Gottman was one of the highest-paid university presidents in the country, earning more than $3 million annually.
Like Penn, the University of Virginia has a large health system and 12 schools in Charlottesville as well as a college in Southwest Virginia. While Penn is a private university, UVA has nearly 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students, which is public and has been ranked the 4th best national public university by US News and World Report.
Magill has served as Executive Vice President and Dean there since July 2019, the first woman to hold this position overseeing all academics at the school. But this wasn’t her first time at UVA. She graduated from law school, got her professional doctorate there, and worked as a law professor for 15 years, including her tenure as deputy dean.
Before becoming dean, Magill led Stanford Law School for seven years. There, she oversaw a large hiring batch, brought in nearly 30% of faculty, and set up a law and policy lab in which students worked on real-world policy challenges for clients. It also established a global perspective on the curriculum, sending students and faculty to China, Latin America, India, and Europe for classes.
Read more: Scott L. Book, Vice Chairman, will replace David Cohen as Chairman
In a June 2018 article in the Stanford Daily, Magill argued that the partisan divide had been made worse by fake news.
“The facts are very important to me,” she told the newspaper. “As someone with training as a lawyer and as a student in legal systems, I think I have my own perspective on the importance of fact-testing and proof and what happens when we get it wrong.”
Magill has also held short-term positions at several other leading universities: she was a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, a Fellowship in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University, and a Visiting Professor at Cambridge University.
Her first M stands for Mary – as a child, she was called “Little Mary”; Her mother Marie was great – but she went by Liz’s side.
I grew up in Fargo, ND, where temperatures drop to 45 degrees below and “you have to let the car run when you get in to get a gallon of milk or your engine will freeze.” One of six children, she was raised in a Catholic family with a childhood she described as “witch and witch,” her parents being Republicans who would have challenged her policies. She earned a BA in history from Yale University, where her heroes included historians of women’s history, the Western United States and “slavery in the New World.”
Prior to law school, she worked for four years as a senior legislative assistant for energy and natural resources for former U.S. Senator Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat. After graduating from law school, she worked as a clerk for former US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom she credits with helping shape her career.
“I’ve designed something truly unique: a work ethic I’ve never seen before; a meticulous commitment to the craft of opinion writing; seriousness combined with dry humor; an extraordinary partnership with Marty Ginsburg; an undying love for all things law;” Magill said in a UVA post following his death. Ginsburg.
When asked why she attended law school, she said in a 2009 publication that she belongs to a family of lawyers.
“I’m sure I was touched by the example of many in my family who are happy (mostly happy) in law,” she said. “Our family gatherings are a bit like law firm parties. Sad from a perspective, I think, but we’re happy about it.”
Magill is married to Leon Septici, a professor of law at the University of Virginia, and they have two children.
This is an evolving story.
Author Ryan W. Briggs contributed to this article.