Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, will remain in the job through June 2022 under a three-year contract extension that will make her the longest-serving president in Penn's history.
Gutmann, 67, became president in 2004 and was to exit in 2019 under her current contract.
The new pact will expand her tenure to 18 years, eclipsing the presidency of Gaylord Harnwell, who led the university for 17 years, until 1970.
"We believe Amy is the best university president in the country," David L. Cohen, chairman of Penn's board of trustees, said in an email to the campus Tuesday.
Penn did not release her current salary or terms of the extension. Gutmann earned $3.3 million in the 2014-15 academic year, according to the most recent tax forms available. The year before, she was the second-highest-paid private college president in the country, just behind Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University, according to a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Her job is comprehensive and sweeping. She oversees Penn's 12 schools, enrolling nearly 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students, as well as its health system. Operating on a $7 billion-plus budget, Penn is the largest private employer in Philadelphia. Tuition, fees, and room and board this year total $66,000.
Under Gutmann, Penn's endowment has more than doubled to $10.7 billion and the university completed its largest fund-raising campaign, a $4.3 billion effort, that came in nearly $1 billion above target.
She started "engagement" and "innovation" prizes for outstanding seniors to spend the year after graduation working on nonprofit and commercial projects designed to improve the world.
Penn has completed major construction projects, including a nanotechnology center, the 24-acre Penn Park, and the New College House, a seven-story, $127 million residence hall.
Most recently, Penn officially opened its $35 million Pennovation complex, an innovation hub along the south bank of the Schuylkill where entrepreneurs can explore ideas.
Gutmann said trustees asked her a while ago to extend her term, and after discussion with her family, she decided last weekend.
"I want to continue the transformational impact we've been able to have on our campus and beyond," she said.
Gutmann said she will continue fund-raising for financial aid, and looks forward to overseeing the largest building project in Penn history - a 1.1 million-square-foot hospital building, the New Patient Pavilion - that will include about 500 inpatient rooms, 50 operating rooms, and an emergency area.
Gutmann also has instituted a policy to expand access to a Penn education by doling out grant packages rather than loans to students in need. Penn has awarded nearly $1 billion in grants since the policy began in 2009.
"One of the things I care most about is access, and I think our undergraduate population has fundamentally changed in really positive ways," said higher education professor Marybeth Gasman. "By and large, she's done a really good job across the board."
Gutmann also hired prominent professors and gave them joint appointments in two fields to integrate learning and teaching across disciplines.
Both faculty and student leaders said they were pleased to see her stay on.
"There is clear consensus that she has been a very strong leader who has accomplished a whole lot as president," said Laura Perna, chair of Penn's faculty senate.
Senior Kat McCay, president of the undergraduate assembly, said, "She cares deeply about students and has done much to improve many different aspects of the Penn undergraduate experience."
But she's not been without critics. After some student suicides, she faced calls to improve mental health services on campus.
In 2014, she was criticized by members of Penn's police force for participating in a "die-in" protest held by students. Gutmann lay on the floor with student protesters when they took over her holiday party. Their demonstration symbolized the 41/2 hours the body of Michael Brown, a black teenager, remained on the street after he was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
And she was faulted by a group of senior faculty in the Africana studies department in 2013 for failing to add leaders of color to her administration while touting diversity as an initiative.
The university in its statement noted a 43 percent increase in minority faculty under Gutmann and highlighted her global efforts, including the openings of the Perry World House on campus this fall and Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing last year. Undergraduate applications have more than doubled to nearly 39,000 for the most recent class, Penn said, and 200 new endowed professorships have been created.
The new extension is her third since coming to Penn from Princeton University, where she had been provost. Gutmann, a political scientist, got her bachelor's degree from Radcliffe-Harvard, her master's in political science from the London School of Economics, and her doctorate in political science from Harvard.
She is married to Columbia University professor Michael W. Doyle, and her daughter, Abigail, is an associate professor of chemistry at Princeton.
In addition to leading Penn, Gutmann has held national posts including chairing President Obama's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.