Judith Rodin

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Judith Rodin
Judith Rodin 2011.jpg
12th President of the Rockefeller Foundation
Assumed office
March, 2005
Preceded by Gordon Conway
7th President of the University of Pennsylvania
In office
1 July 1994 – 30 June 2004
Preceded by Claire Fagin (interim)
Succeeded by Amy Gutmann
Personal details
Born Judith Seitz
(1944-09-09) September 9, 1944 (age 70)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Paul R. Verkuil
Nicholas Neijelow
Bruce Rodin
Children Alex Niejelow
Alma mater The University of Pennsylvania
Columbia University
Profession Philanthropist, Academic
Religion Judaism
Website The Rockefeller Foundation

Judith Rodin (born Judith Seitz; September 9, 1944) is a philanthropist with a long history in higher education. She is currently the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, a position she has held since 2005.[1] From 1994 to 2004, Rodin served as the 7th permanent president of the University of Pennsylvania, and the first permanent female president of an Ivy League university.[2][3]

Background and education[edit]

Rodin was born Jewish [4] in Philadelphia, PA.[5] She was the younger of two daughters of Morris and Sally Sietz. She graduated with honors from the Philadelphia School for Girls and won an undergraduate scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania.[6] At Penn, Rodin majored in psychology and graduated from the University's College for Women with a B.A. in 1966. She was the president of Penn's Women's Student Government and led the groundwork for the merger with the Men's Student Government[7] that ultimately formed the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education that led to the co-education of the College of Arts and Sciences.[8] She went on to earn a Ph.D. from Columbia University, which she received in 1970. Rodin also completed some postdoctoral research at the University of California at Irvine in 1971.[9]

Academic career[edit]

After teaching briefly at New York University, Rodin became an associate professor at Yale University, where she was to become well known among students as a popular lecturer.[6] She held various professorial and other positions at Yale from 1972 to 1994, including Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Chair of the Department of Psychology, and Provost.

In 1994, Rodin became the first permanent female president of an Ivy League institution when she took over the leadership at her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania and in so doing became the university's first graduate to become its president. Her immediate predecessor was Dr. Claire M. Fagin, who served in 1994 as Interim President.[10] As president, Rodin guided the university through a period of unprecedented growth and development that transformed Penn’s academic core and dramatically enhanced the quality of life on campus and in the surrounding community. She encouraged revitalization in University City and West Philadelphia through public safety; the establishment of Wharton School alliances for small businesses; the development of buildings and streetscapes that turned outward to the community; and the establishment of a university-led partnership school, the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School.[11]

Under Rodin's leadership, Penn invigorated its resources, doubling its research funding and tripling both its annual fundraising and the size of its endowment. It also created Penn Medicine, the unified organization comprising the university's medical school and hospital; attracted record numbers of undergraduate applicants, creating Penn’s most selective classes ever; and rose in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of top national research universities from 16th in 1994 to 4th in 2002.[12] The university also established new institutes and created over a dozen groundbreaking interdisciplinary, multi-school, undergraduate and graduate degree programs while either planning or completed new buildings and major renovations in every school and center. And it significantly expanded its international programs and collaborations.

Rodin has published more than 200 articles and chapters in academic publications and written or co-written 11 books; including, Public Discourse in America (2003)[1] and Body Traps: Breaking the Binds That Keep You From Feeling Good About Your Body.

The Rockefeller Foundation[edit]

Rodin became president of the Rockefeller Foundation in March, 2005. She re-calibrated the focus of the Foundation to meet the challenges of the 21st century and today the Foundation supports and shapes innovations to strengthen resilience to risks and ensure more equitable growth around the world. The Rockefeller Foundation funds a portfolio of interconnected initiatives—often in overlapping geographic regions—aimed at meeting four goals: revalue ecosystems; advance health; secure livelihoods; and transform cities.[13]

Through Rodin’s leadership, the Rockefeller Foundation has placed a specialized focus on building resilience. In 2008, the Foundation invested $59 million in the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network,[14] a 7-year initiative aimed to catalyze attention, funding, and action on building climate change resilience for poor and vulnerable people in South Asia. Following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Rodin was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to co-chair NYS 2100,[15] a commission charged with finding ways to improve the resilience and strength of the state’s infrastructure in the face of natural disasters and other emergencies.[16][17]

Rodin has also focused on activities around the Rockefeller Foundation’s Centennial in 2013,[18] including convenings, publishing a series of books and engaging with people through new digital platforms to encourage discussion on a variety of different issues and allow people from all over the world to participate in the Centennial.

In September 2013, Rodin told This Is Africa that "Nowhere in the world are the potential rewards greater for both business and development than in Africa".[19]

Other professional work[edit]

She is on the Board of Directors of Citigroup and Comcast Corporation, where she served as the presiding director until 2006.[20] Rodin has also served on the board of corporations, including Aetna, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and BlackRock.[21] She continues to serve as a trustee of the Brookings Institution.


Rodin is married to Paul R. Verkuil, a former president of the College of William and Mary, former dean of the Tulane University Law School and former CEO of the American Automobile Association.[22] Verkuil is a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he served previously as dean. Rodin was previously married two other times, to Bruce Rodin and to Nicholas Neijelow, with whom she has a son, Alex.[6]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2003, Rodin was named to the PoliticsPA list of "Pennsylvania's Most Politically Powerful Women".[23] That same year, Rodin received the Philadelphia Award, given to "citizen[s] of the region who [have] done the most to advance the best and largest interest of the community."[24]

Rodin was named one of Crain's 50 Most Powerful Women in New York list three years in a row. Rodin has also been recognized as one of Forbes Magazine's List of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women, and the National Association of Corporate Directors' (NACD's) 2011 Directorship 100, in recognition of her work promoting the highest standards of corporate governance.

Select Commencement Speeches & Honorary Degrees:





  1. ^ a b Judith Rodin, PhD :: The Rockefeller Foundation
  2. ^ Leaders of the University of Pennsylvania: Presidents
  3. ^ "Dr. Judith Rodin". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Familiar Jewish Names On Forbes Most Powerful Women List". Jspace. August 24, 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "America's Best Leaders 2009: Judith Rodin - USNews.com". usnews.com. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c O'Neill, Molly (20 October 1994). "ON CAMPUS WITH: Dr. Judith Rodin; In an Ivy League of Her Own". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  7. ^ http://www.upenn.edu/almanac/v50/n34/jr_dec.html
  8. ^ http://www.archives.upenn.edu/faids/ups/ups58_scuereport1966.pdf
  9. ^ Biographical Details from the Rockefeller Foundation
  10. ^ "Judith Rodin: Rockefeller Foundation Head Changes the Charity and the World - US News and World Report". usnews.com. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "A community reborn", APA Online, accessed 18 Dec 2008
  12. ^ "Judith Rodin to Step Down as President of Penn In June 2004". University of Pennsylvania Almanac. 20 June 2003. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "Rockefeller Foundation Our Focus"
  14. ^ "ACCCRN"
  15. ^ "Governor Cuomo Announces Commissions to Improve New York State's Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities"
  16. ^ "Can This Woman Save New York from the Next Sandy"
  17. ^ "Learning from Superstorm Sandy"
  18. ^ "Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Celebration"
  19. ^ "Africa Sustainability Barometer - Shared Value: Partnering Up". This Is Africa. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Dr Judith Rodin Profile - Forbes.com". Forbes. 
  21. ^ Rodin juggles corporate, govt. duties - Resources
  22. ^ Paul Verkuil, Professor of Law
  23. ^ "Pennsylvania's Most Politically Powerful Women". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2001. Archived from the original on 2004-02-09. 
  24. ^ Judith Rodin | WHYY
  25. ^ Judith Rodin, Doctor of Science - Biographical background on 2007 Dartmouth honorary degree recipients
  26. ^ "Address Delivered Today at the University of Pittsburgh's 2006 Commencement in the University's Petersen Events Center by Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation"
  27. ^ Judith Rodin on Franklin & Marshall College's Flickr
  28. ^ "Honorees Urge Graduates to Pursue Justice"
  29. ^ "Honors for President Judith Rodin"
  30. ^ "Brown University will confer nine honorary degrees on May 31"

External links[edit]

Other biographical summaries[edit]

Reviews of Rodin's tenure at Penn[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Claire Fagin
Presidents of the University of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Amy Gutmann