Biden Picks University of Pennsylvania Leader as Germany Envoy

President Joe Biden intends to nominate University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann as the U.S. ambassador to Germany, offering a political reward to the administrator who helped him launch a center for diplomacy during his years out of office.

Gutmann, 71, is among four envoy nominations announced Friday by the White House. Biden also said he would name international development policy expert Chantale Wong for director of the Asian Development Bank, and two career foreign service officers for ambassador posts: Jeffrey Hovenier to Kosovo, and Virginia Palmer to Ghana.

Biden Picks University of Pennsylvania Leader as Germany Envoy

Gutmann has led the Philadelphia university since 2004, and was present at the 2018 launch party of the Penn-Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in offices overlooking the Capitol in Washington.

The president’s financial disclosures show that he was paid more than $911,000 from the university during the period between leaving the vice presidency and when he started his presidential campaign. The university also employed longtime Biden aides as part of the center’s operations.

If she is confirmed, Gutmann would replace career diplomat Robin Quinville, who took over the posting after the departure of Trump ambassador Richard Grenell. Grenell frequently criticized Berlin over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which would export natural gas from Russia.

Even with Friday’s announcement, many key envoy posts remain open, including ambassadors for China, India, Afghanistan and Iraq. The administration’s efforts to nominate envoys as been “too slow,” said Eric Rubin, president of the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomatic corps’ union.

Measured by ambassadors who have been nominated to individual countries, not institutions such as NATO or United Nations bodies, Biden trails former Trump at this point in his presidency, according to the Partnership for Public Service, which tracks such appointments. As of June 30 in their administrations, former President Barack Obama had nominated 40 ambassadors, Bill Clinton 26 and Trump 19. Biden had nominated just 14.

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