The University of Pennsylvania today named Anita L. Allen, a Penn Law School professor and professor of philosophy, as the new vice provost of faculty.
Allen’s appointment comes five months after the university came under criticism for failing to fill top administrative positions with people of color. Allen, a Havard law school graduate who has taught at Penn since 1998 and has held dean positions, is black.
“Anita Allen brings an extraordinary range of experience to this critically important role," Provost Vincent Price said in a statement. "She is a distinguished scholar of law and ethics, a seasoned administrator, a vibrant writer and public speaker and a longtime champion of equity and access.”
In her new role, which begins July 1, she will oversee faculty life and academic personnel.
"In her new position, she will be an important partner in helping further strengthen and diversify Penn’s eminent faculty,” President Amy Gutmann said in a statement.
Gutmann noted that she has worked with Allen both at Penn and in her position as chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, “where Anita has been a consummately insightful contributor to our work.”
She also cited Allen’s interdisciplinary work, spanning the liberal arts and law in issues including privacy, women’s rights and race relations.
In January, a group of senior faculty in the Africana Studies department blasted Gutmann in a letter to the student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, for failing to add leaders of color to her administration, while she has touted diversity as an initiative.
Their letter was prompted by Gutmann's decision to appoint Steven J. Fluharty, who is white and had been senior vice provost for research and professor of pharmacology, psychology and neuroscience, as the new dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.
Allen is an expert in privacy law and contemporary ethics and the author of seven books and more than 100 academic articles, Penn said. In 2009-11, she was the deputy dean for academic affairs at the law school, where she has taught since 1998. She previously was an associate dean for research and scholarship at Georgetown University Law Center. She taught there from 1987 to 1998. She also has taught at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh.
Allen has her law degree from Harvard, a doctorate and master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s in philosophy, classics and literature from New College of Florida.