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Dorothy Roberts Appointed Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor

April 18, 2012
President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price  announced the appointment of Dorothy Roberts as the University of Pennsylvania’s fourteenth Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, effective July 1, 2012.
Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender, and the law, will be the George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology. Her appointment will be shared between the Law School, where she will also be the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander ED’18, GR’21, L’27 Professor of Civil Rights, and the Department of Sociology in the School of Arts and Sciences. 
 
“Dorothy Roberts is an award-winning teacher and scholar who writes and speaks about some of the most important and challenging issues facing our society, including civil rights, reproductive rights, poverty, child welfare, and family law,” said President Gutmann. “Her work elegantly blends perspectives from law, sociology, ethics, race and gender studies, and beyond. She exemplifies Penn’s commitment to linking the liberal arts and the professions, and to making a positive impact on communities in Philadelphia and around the world.”
 
Roberts’ pathbreaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent contemporary issues in health, bioethics, and social justice, especially as they impact the lives of women, children, and African-Americans. Her major books include Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (New Press, 2011), Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997). She is the author of more than 80 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as a co-editor of six books on such topics as constitutional law, First Amendment law, and women and the law. 
 
“Dorothy Roberts’ highly engaged scholarship exemplifies the power of integrating knowledge,” said Provost Price. “She brings together a wide range of disciplines to illuminate some of the most fundamental challenges of our time. Her work has made a tangible difference in improving the lives of those who are disadvantaged and underrepresented.” 
 
Dorothy-Roberts-2_web.jpgThe Penn Integrates Knowledge program was launched by President Gutmann in 2005 as a University-wide initiative to recruit exceptional faculty members whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge across disciplines, and who are jointly appointed between two schools at Penn.
 
Roberts has taught since 1998 at Northwestern University, where she is currently Kirkland & Ellis Professor at the School of Law and Professor of African-American Studies and Sociology. She earned a JD (1980) from Harvard Law School and a BA (1977) magna cum laude from Yale University. 
 
The George A. Weiss University Professorship is a gift of George A. Weiss, a 1965 graduate of the University.  Mr. Weiss is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Chair of Making History: The Campaign for Penn, and serves on the Athletics Board of Overseers. He is president of George Weiss Associates, Inc., a New York-based money management firm. 
 
Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander was the first African American in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in economics and, in 1927, the first African American woman to graduate from Penn Law. Her exceptional career included service to President Harry Truman as a member of his President’s Committee on Civil Rights, as well as her active role in the creation of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights and her work as its first commissioner.

The Chair was established at Penn Law through an initial gift from the Alexander estate in 1993, and through the involvement of the Alexanders’ daughters, Dr. Rae Alexander-Minter GR’81, who played a pivotal role over the years in leading fundraising efforts, and Mary B. Cannaday. The Chair has been co-funded by the Law School, Penn, and through a grant by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and a gift from the law firm Duane Morris.

In addition, in 1994 Penn Law’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) established a Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Committee and each year since then has hosted an annual dinner and conference to support fundraising for the Chair, as well as celebrate the Alexanders’ lives and legacy. In total, more than 350 donors, including individual alumni, students, and faculty, as well as alumni groups, student groups, law firms, and corporations, have contributed to the establishment of the professorship.