Marci Hamilton Appointed Penn Arts and Sciences’ Third Professor of Practice

October 3, 2017

Marci Hamilton, one of the country’s leading church-state scholars, has been appointed a Penn Arts and Sciences’ Professor of Practice in the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program. Practice professorships bring accomplished leaders from business, government, or the arts into Penn Arts and Sciences’ classrooms to complement the expertise of the School’s standing faculty. Hamilton also serves as a Fox Family Pavilion Senior Fellow in Residence in the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program’s Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society (PRRUCS) and is Co-Chair of the Common Ground for the Common Good Program.

Hamilton, L’88, is the Founder, CEO, and Academic Director of Children’s Health Care Is a Legal Duty, or CHILD USA, a nonprofit dedicated to interdisciplinary research and advocacy to end child abuse and neglect. She co-leads the organization with Steven Berkowitz, a leading child traumatologist, Director of the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma, and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine; and Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine.

Hamilton is a tireless pro bono advocate for access to justice for all child sex abuse victims and an international leader in the movement to eventually eliminate statutes of limitations (SOL) in child sex abuse cases. She has submitted testimony and advised legislators in every state where significant reform has occurred. CHILD USA ( tracks and provides analysis on the SOL movement in the U.S. and around the world, as well as information regarding ages of majority, consent, and marriage; religious liberty statutes that create opportunities to harm children; and medical neglect laws.

Hamilton is the author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty, which was nominated for a 2015 Pulitzer Prize; Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children; God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law, which received Foreword Magazine’s Political Science Book of the Year Silver Medal; and numerous scholarly articles.

Hamilton was recently honored with the prestigious 2017 Louis H. Pollak Award, which is awarded each year by the Penn Law Alumni Society’s Board of Managers to an alumna/us of Penn Law who has pursued a career of advancing justice through service to others. In the past, Hamilton has also received the 2016 Voice Today, Voice of Gratitude Award; the 2015 Religious Liberty Award, American Humanist Association; the 2014 Freethought Heroine Award; the National Crime Victim Bar Association’s Frank Carrington Champion of Civil Justice Award, 2012; the E. Nathaniel Gates Award for outstanding public advocacy and scholarship, 2008; and was selected as a Pennsylvania Woman of the Year Award, 2012, among others. She is also frequently quoted in the national media on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, First Amendment, clergy sex abuse, and statute of limitations issues.

“Marci Hamilton is a force of nature on issues of religious freedom. In the context of the Penn Common Ground for Common Good Project, she has proven once again that civil and respectful church-state debates remain possible even among and between leaders who hold strongly opposing views,” says John J. DiIulio, Jr., the Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society and Director of Penn's Fox Leadership Program for undergraduates. “She is also a national champion for abused children, an amazing classroom teacher, and a brilliant writer. We’re lucky to have her with us at Penn.”

Celebrating its 20th year in 2018-19, the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program's motto is "Learning Leadership through Study, Living Leadership through Service." The program supports 150 paid Research and Service Fellowships each year for undergraduates, graduate students, and recent alumni, and co-sponsors numerous service-learning initiatives, courses, and events.