President Biden on Friday announced his choice for U.S. ambassador to Germany, his first ambassadorship nomination to a Group of Seven (G-7) country.
The White House said in a press release unveiling a series of nominations for administration and ambassadorship roles that Biden had chosen Amy Gutmann; the current president of the University of Pennsylvania, to serve as the top diplomat in Berlin.
Gutmann, whose Jewish father fled Nazi Germany at the beginning of the Holocaust; would be the first woman to serve as U.S. ambassador to Germany if confirmed for the role.
Gutmann will also take the spot that has been left empty for more than a year following the resignation of Richard Grenell; a staunch ally of former President Trump who was well-known for his combative, polarizing diplomatic style.
According to a bio shared by the White House, Gutmann has previously worked at Princeton University as provost and faculty dean; as well as at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and at the University of Maryland.
The 71-year-old is also considered an expert in political philosophy, having authored and edited 17 books; with several “centered on understanding and defending constitutional democracy and human rights,” according to the White House.
Fortune magazine named Gutmann one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” in 2018.
In a statement shared with the University of Pennsylvania community on Friday; Gutmann said it was “a meaningful and extraordinary honor it is to be nominated by the President; for this important position of service to our country.”
“As the daughter of a German Jewish refugee; as a first-generation college graduate, and as a university leader devoted to advancing constitutional democracy; I am grateful beyond what any words can adequately express to President Biden for the faith he has placed in me to help represent America’s values and interests to one of our closest and most important European allies,” she wrote.
Gutmann, who had previously said she planned to step down as university president in June 2022; said she would continue serving in the role until she is confirmed for the ambassadorship by the Senate.
The nomination comes ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s planned visit to the White House; later this month in what could be the German leader’s last visit to the U.S. in her final year as chancellor.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last month that; the leaders are expected to discuss “their commitment to close cooperation on a range of common challenges; including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the threat of climate change, and promoting economic prosperity and international security based on our shared democratic values.”
Biden and Merkel could also likely discuss the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Germany; a move criticized by the Biden administration.