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Wendell Pritchett, Rutgers-Camden Chancellor and award-winning scholar, to rejoin Penn Law faculty

February 19, 2014

Wendell E. Pritchett, chancellor of Rutgers University-Camden and a former University of Pennsylvania Law School professor, will return to the Penn faculty as a Presidential Term Professor. Pritchett’s appointment to the Law School begins July 1; he is stepping down as Rutgers-Camden’s Chancellor in June.

Pritchett, who holds a Ph.D. in history from Penn and is an award-winning urban historian, earned his law degree at Yale. A member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, he has held numerous leadership positions in nonprofit and government service, as well as pursuing a distinguished academic career.

At Penn Law, Pritchett will teach courses in land use, property and education policy.

“It is a wonderful privilege to be able to welcome someone with so many outstanding scholarly and civic accomplishments back to the Penn community,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “Wendell embodies what it means to make a difference as a scholar and a citizen. The Law School and entire Penn community will be the beneficiaries of his passionate commitment to academic and civic engagement.”

“Wendell was a beloved member of the Penn Law faculty during his years with us, and we are incredibly proud to welcome him home,” said Penn Law Dean Michael A. Fitts. “His unique experience in higher education, urban policy and the law make him not only an outstanding teacher and scholar but a wonderful role model to our students.”

Prior to his appointment as Rutgers-Camden chancellor in July 2009, Pritchett taught at Penn Law from 2001 to 2009. Before coming to Penn, he spent five years as assistant professor of history at Baruch College of the City University of New York.

During 2008, Pritchett served as deputy chief of staff and director of policy for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who appointed him to the School Reform Commission in 2011. Prior to that, 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.

“I am very excited to be returning to Penn and humbled by the appointment as Presidential Term Professor,” Pritchett said. “Penn is an international leader in the effort to harness the resources of universities to solve the pressing problems of our society.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Law School and the rest of the University to further expand the University’s impact.  I also look forward to work with my colleagues in the higher education division of the Penn Graduate School of Education to explore new ways to increase educational attainment in our society.“

Under Pritchett’s leadership, Rutgers-Camden’s enrollment grew to about 6,800. It added a nursing school, graduated its first Ph.D. candidates and built a 12-story residence hall that also includes retail space for use by both students and city residents.

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 and member of the Pennsylvania State Planning Board.

In October 2012, he was elected president of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, a national consortium of higher education institutions. He is a co-chair of the World Class Greater Philadelphia Initiative of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and member of the Cooper University Health Care Board of Trustees.

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 most recent 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. Pritchett’s 2008 article “Which Urban Crisis? Regionalism, Race and Urban Policy, 1960-1974” won the Urban History Association Best Article Award.

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