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Fargo native nominated for president's job at University of Pennsylvania

Shanley High grad also graduated from Yale and University of Virginia School of Law.

M. Elizabeth Magill
M. Elizabeth Magill.
Special to The Forum

PHILADELPHIA — Fargo native M. Elizabeth Magill has been nominated to serve as the ninth president of the University of Pennsylvania.

Magill is currently executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia, having served in that position since 2019.

She was the first woman to hold that job.

The executive committee of the University of Pennsylvania's Board of Trustees voted to nominate Magill as president of the university, and the full board will vote on her nomination in March.

If her nomination is approved, Magill will assume the job of president on July 1.


She would succeed Dr. Amy Gutmann, who announced last year that she would conclude her tenure as the president of the University of Pennsylvania after serving in that role since 2004.

Magill, who was raised in Fargo, attended Nativity Elementary School prior to attending Shanley High School.

She graduated from Shanley in 1984.

"I had a magical childhood; I loved growing up in Fargo," Magill said.

Following high school, Magill earned a degree in history from Yale University, after which she served as a senior legislative assistant for energy and natural resources for U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, a position she held for four years.

She left that position to attend the University of Virginia School of Law, where she earned a law degree.

After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995, Magill clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and then for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who Magill credits as having had a profound impact on shaping her career.

Prior to becoming executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia, Magill served for seven years as the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of the Stanford Law School.


Before joining Stanford, she was on the faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law for 15 years, serving as vice dean, the Joseph Weintraub–Bank of America Distinguished Professor of Law, and Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill Professor.

"I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to lead the remarkable institution that is the University of Pennsylvania — and to succeed Dr. Amy Gutmann, who has been a visionary and innovative leader,” Magill said, adding: "From its founding, Penn set its sights on making a difference and 282 years later the Penn community continues to change the world every day through world-class research, teaching, patient care, and service."

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