PHILADELPHIA--Fancis S. Hackney, a historian and former Tulane University president, took over as president of University of Pennsylvania on February 2, after a controversial four-month selection process that prompted student and faculty protest and a near lawsuit against the University trustees for nominating Hackney in private.
Hackney took office as the University's sixth president and 21st chief executive officer, replacing Martin Meyerson, whom the Trustees unanimously named as chairman of the University of Pennsylvania Foundation, a fundraising organization.
The new president promised to "go about decision-making in as humane and considerate a way as possible," adding that "It is possible for us to thrive."
On the president's first day in office, Benjamin Shen, acting provost, resigned, in a move that stunned the University. Citing a recent recurrence of a back ailment, Shen said he took on the position to help the University out of its temporary problems, but does not want to be considered for the permanent position of provost.
"I was very surprised," Paul Bender, faculty senate chairman said, adding that "We had no prior warning."
Meyerson exercised his presidential power for the last time by bestowing an honorary master's degree upon Hackney.
Meyerson described his tenure as president as a progressive one, citing the recent $255 million fund drive, and his administration's receptivity to student and faculty concern.