Biden Names UPenn President as Ambassador to Germany
Amy Gutmann, a political science professor, would be the first woman in that post. She also helped hire Biden to a lucrative university job after the Obama administration.
Biden names University of Pennsylvania president as ambassador to Germany.
Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, has written books on defending constitutional democracy and human rights.Credit…Mark Makela/Reuters
By Annie Karni
July 2, 2021, 3:38 p.m. ET
President Biden on Friday nominated Amy Gutmann, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, to serve as ambassador to Germany, giving a prominent post abroad to an academic leader who hired Mr. Biden for a lucrative university position after the Obama administration.
If confirmed, Dr. Gutmann, who has written books on defending constitutional democracy and human rights, would be the first woman to hold the post. She would take over a position previously held by one of President Donald J. Trump’s most confrontational aides, Richard Grenell, who used the post to spread his brand of combative conservatism in Europe.
In 2018 and 2019, Mr. Biden was reportedly paid more than $900,000 from the University of Pennsylvania to serve as a “professor of practice,” according to financial disclosures. He did not teach any courses there, but a spokesman for the university called the relationship “phenomenally successful.”
“He helped to expand Penn’s global outreach, while sharing his wisdom and insights with thousands of Penn students through seminars, talks and classroom visits,” said Stephen J. MacCarthy, vice president of communications for the university. Mr. MacCarthy added, “He was able to bring prominent world figures to Penn’s campus for forums and conferences to discuss and debate critically important issues.”
Mr. Biden developed a close relationship with Dr. Gutmann, a political science professor, during his years there. Dr. Gutmann was also critical to the creation of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington.
The Biden administration has been slowly rolling out its choices for ambassador posts, eager to show off a diverse list of nominees, not only in terms of gender and race but also in terms of background. In previous administrations, many posts abroad have gone to campaign donors. But the Biden administration has been eager to elevate State Department officials as well, to send a signal to career foreign service officials that they are once again valued.
On Friday, Mr. Biden also said he would nominate Chantale Wong as the United States director of the Asian Development Bank, a position that comes with the rank of ambassador. He nominated two career foreign service officials, Jeffrey M. Hovenier and Virginia E. Palmer, as ambassadors to Kosovo and Ghana.