Dorothy Roberts Appointed Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor

PHILADELPHIA -- Dorothy Roberts has been named the University of Pennsylvania’s 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, effective July 1. The announcement was made today by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price.  

Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law, will be the George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology.  Her appointment will be shared between the School of Law, where she will also be the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, and the Department of Sociology in the School of Arts and Sciences. 

“Dorothy Roberts is an award-winning teacher and scholar who writes and speaks about some of the most important and challenging issues facing our society, including civil rights, reproductive rights, poverty, child welfare and family law,” Gutmann said.  “Her work elegantly blends perspectives from law, sociology, ethics, race and gender studies and beyond.  She exemplifies Penn’s commitment to linking the liberal arts and the professions and to making a positive impact on communities in Philadelphia and around the world.”

Roberts’ pathbreaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent contemporary issues in health, bioethics and social justice, especially as they impact the lives of women, children and African-Americans. 

Her major books include Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (New Press, 2011), Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2002) and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997).  She is the author of more than 80 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as a co-editor of six books on such topics as constitutional law, First Amendment law and women and the law. 

“Dorothy Roberts’ highly engaged scholarship exemplifies the power of integrating knowledge,” Price said.  “She brings together a wide range of disciplines to illuminate some of the most fundamental challenges of our time.  Her work has made a tangible difference in improving the lives of those who are disadvantaged and underrepresented.” 

The Penn Integrates Knowledge program was launched by Gutmann in 2005 as a University-wide initiative to recruit exceptional faculty members whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge across disciplines and who are jointly appointed between two schools at Penn.

Roberts has taught since 1998 at Northwestern University, where she is currently Kirkland & Ellis Professor at the School of Law and professor of African-American studies and sociology.  She earned a J.D. in 1980 from Harvard Law School and a B.A., magna cum laude, in 1977 from Yale University. 

The George A. Weiss University Professorship is a gift of George A. Weiss, a 1965 graduate of the University.  Weiss is vice chair of the Penn Board of Trustees and chair of Making History: The Campaign for Penn and serves on the Athletics Board of Overseers. He is president of George Weiss Associates Inc., a New York-based money-management firm. 

The Alexander Chair, established by the Alexander family, honors Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first African-American woman to graduate from Penn Law.  It is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and by gifts from the Black Law Students Association, Duane Morris LLP and many alumni, students, faculty and friends of Penn Law.