Pulse: 60-Second Critic: Nonfiction: The University and Urban Revival

By Judith Rodin, (University of Pennsylvania Press; $34.95)

If you’ve ever mused, “Gee, university president would be a pretty cool gig,” Rodin’s urban-studies memoir will disabuse you of the notion.


If you’ve ever mused, "Gee, university president would be a pretty cool gig," Rodin’s urban-studies memoir will disabuse you of the notion. The Ivy League’s first female prez reflects on her decade at the helm of Penn (1994-2004) and efforts to revitalize its West Philly environs. General readers will snooze at the endless accounts of procedure ("By late 1996, we had a plan, a policy for leadership and administration, an evaluation mechanism … " ), while planning types will want more juice on how Rodin dealt with neighbors suspicious of the university’s history of heavy-handed "Penn-trification." This is tough going for all but the most devout wonks. "It was exciting to ask ourselves, ‘How can we deploy our purchasing more strategically?’" Rodin writes. Need we say more?
Grade: D+