Glanton is named Exelon executive Best known here for his role with the Barnes Foundation, he will become senior vice president of the energy firm.

Posted: May 03, 2003

Richard H. Glanton, a high-profile and often controversial Philadelphia lawyer best known for arranging a world tour for the famed Barnes Foundation art collection, has been named senior vice president of Exelon Corp., the Chicago-based energy firm that owns Peco Energy Co.

In his new position, Glanton, 56, a senior partner in the prestigious law firm of Reed Smith, will be in charge of mergers and acquisitions. Glanton is a member of the board of directors of Exelon.

An Exelon spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that Glanton had been named to the executive post and said that a more complete announcement was imminent.

Contacted at his law office in Philadelphia - Reed Smith is headquartered in Pittsburgh - Glanton declined comment, saying any announcement had to come from the corporation.

Gregory B. Jordan, managing partner at Reed Smith, said Glanton had been "an important person to us in Philadelphia . . . He did a very good job for us." Jordan said Glanton was moving on to a "great opportunity" at Exelon.

Glanton's multifaceted history includes roles as deputy counsel to former Gov. Dick Thornburgh from 1979 to 1983, Republican donor and fund-raiser, rainmaker for his law firm, former counsel and current trustee for Lincoln University, and - the post for which he is best known - president of the Barnes Foundation from 1990 to 1998.

At the Barnes, an institution in Lower Merion that owns one of the world's great collections of impressionist art, Glanton fought a difficult court case in 1992 and won approval to take a portion of the foundation's collection on world tour.

The restrictive will of Dr. Albert Barnes, who established the foundation, prohibited moving any of the artworks.

Glanton argued that a tour would raise funds desperately needed to maintain the collection and build up the foundation's endowment. The tour in the mid-1990s, billed by Glanton as "the greatest exhibition in the history of Western civilization," raised $20 million. The artworks were displayed in Washington, Paris, Tokyo, Toronto, Fort Worth and Philadelphia.

On the downside, Glanton fought an ugly battle at the Barnes with neighbors of the foundation over parking problems.

When Lower Merion Township found the Barnes in violation of zoning rules because visitors to the foundation were clogging the street with their cars, Glanton counterattacked.

Glanton, who is black, sued the township and 17 neighbors, claiming they had engaged in a racist conspiracy to single out the Barnes for strict zoning enforcement. A federal judge ruled the complaint baseless.

The township commissioners countersued, and Glanton ended up apologizing for comments that residents interpreted as racist. Glanton also agreed to pay $400,000 for the township's legal fees.

These legal battles cost the Barnes both in reputation and financially, and Glanton departed in February 1998.

Last fall, the Barnes said it was close to bankruptcy and unable to raise enough money in its present location to run its operations. With the financial backing of three prominent area foundations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Barnes petitioned Montgomery County Orphans' Court to move its art collection from Lower Merion to a new museum in Center City, and to rewrite its governing rules.

Contesting the Barnes' petition is Lincoln University, to whose board Glanton was appointed by the state Senate.

In another highly publicized dispute, a federal jury in 1993 awarded $125,000 to Kathleen Frederick, an associate lawyer at Reed Smith who had sued Glanton, alleging sexual harassment and defamation. The damage award was solely for defamation. Appealed by both sides, that case later was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Glanton grew up in Georgia. He holds an undergraduate degree from West Georgia College and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

In his law practice, Glanton advises corporate clients on mergers and acquisitions and other forms of expanding or contracting their businesses.

According to his resume on Reed Smith's Web site, he is a member of the board of Philadelphia Suburban Corp. and Wackenhut Corrections Corp.

Contact staff writer L. Stuart Ditzen at 215-854-2431 or sditzen@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writer Patricia Horn contributed to this article.

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