Biden Names UPenn President as Ambassador to Germany


President Biden nominated Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania, as Ambassador to Germany on Friday.

If confirmed, Dr. Gutmann, who has written books on defending democracy and human rights under the rule of law, was the first woman to hold this 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 combative conservatism across Europe.

In 2018 and 2019, Mr. Biden reportedly received more than $ 900,000 from the University of Pennsylvania to serve as a “professor of practice” according to financial reports. He didn’t teach there, but a university spokesman called the relationship “phenomenally successful”.

“He has helped expand Penn’s global reach while sharing his wisdom and insights with thousands of Penn students through seminars, lectures and classroom visits,” said Stephen J. MacCarthy, vice president of communications for the university. Mr. MacCarthy added, “He was able to bring world celebrities to forums and conferences on Penn’s campus to discuss and debate critically important issues.”

During his time there, Mr. Biden developed a close relationship with Dr. Gutmann, a professor of political science. Dr. Gutmann was also instrumental in establishing the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington.

The Biden government has slowly made its choice for ambassadorial posts to present a diverse list of nominees, not just in terms of gender and race, but also in terms of background. In previous administrations, many foreign posts went to campaign donors. But the Biden government was keen to raise State Department officials as well, to send a signal to career field officials that they are valued again.

On Friday, Mr Biden also said he would appoint Chantale Wong as the US director of the Asian Development Bank, a position that comes with the rank of ambassador. He nominated two professional foreign service officials, Jeffrey M. Hovenier and Virginia E. Palmer, as ambassadors to Kosovo and Ghana.