Wendell Pritchett PhD’97
James S. Riepe Presidential Professor of Law and Education
Wendell Pritchett PhD’97 is the James S. Riepe Presidential Professor of Law and Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Pritchett served as the Interim University President from February 2022 - June 2022 and previously served as the University Provost at Penn from July 1, 2017, through December 31, 2021. He first joined the Penn Law faculty in 2002 and served as Interim Dean and Presidential Professor for the 2014-15 school year. From 2006-2007, he served as associate dean for academic affairs.
Pritchett served as Chancellor of Rutgers-Camden from 2009-14, and in 2008 served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who also appointed him to the School Reform Commission, where he served from 2011-14. He has written two books and edited two academic volumes, and his research examines the development of post-war urban policy, in particular urban renewal, housing finance, and housing discrimination. Pritchett has specialized in real estate and housing law, representing nonprofit organizations involved in the development of affordable housing.
Pritchett, who holds a Ph.D. in history from Penn, earned his law degree at Yale. Before coming to Penn, he spent five years as Assistant Professor of History at Baruch College of the City University of New York. In 2007, he chaired the Urban Policy Task Force for then-Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Earlier in his career, Pritchett served as director of district offices for U.S. Rep. Thomas Foglietta and as an attorney representing non-profit organizations in the development of affordable housing.
During the past 15 years, Pritchett has played a leadership role in numerous nonprofit organizations. He was board chair of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia during 2005-08. He also served as president of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, chair of the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia, member of the Pennsylvania State Planning Board, and member of the Cooper University Health Care Board of Trustees. In October 2012, he was elected president of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, a national consortium of higher education institutions.
As a scholar, Pritchett has written two books and numerous articles on urban history and policy, particularly in the areas of housing, race relations, land use, and economic development. His first book, Brownsville, Brooklyn: Blacks, Jews and the Changing Face of the Ghetto (University of Chicago Press, 2002), explores race relations and public policy in 20th-century Brooklyn. His book, Robert Clifton Weaver and the American City: The Life and Times of an Urban Reformer (University of Chicago Press, 2008), is a biography of the first African-American cabinet secretary, a leading thinker and practitioner of 20th-century urban development. Most recently, Pritchett, along with Penn colleagues Susan Wachter and Vincent Reina, published the edited volume Perspectives on Fair Housing (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020).