"I've been connected to Penn since I was a kid, so it was just kind of home," Pritchett said Wednesday. Attending school in the city, he participated in field trips and other activities at Penn and took his SATs on campus.
"I've just always had a connection to Penn," Pritchett said.
He lives in University City, Penn's neighborhood, and his wife has been a faculty member and administrator at the law school.
The move had been in the works for several months, Pritchett said.
"I always wanted to be a faculty member. I took the Rutgers-Camden job to do some specific things; we did them," he said. Penn "made me an offer I couldn't refuse."
Pritchett will teach land use, property, and education policy, Penn said in a news release. He has taught classes during his time as chancellor, including a one last fall on land-use law.
A scholar of urban history with a bachelor's degree from Brown University and a law degree from Yale, Pritchett has strengthened the campus' civic engagement mission, including working with city schools in North Camden.
"Wendell embodies what it means to make a difference as a scholar and a citizen," Penn president Amy Gutmann said in a news release. "The law school and entire Penn community will be the beneficiaries of his passionate commitment to academic and civic engagement."
Pritchett, who joined Rutgers-Camden in 2009, was thrust into the spotlight in 2012 when state lawmakers and Gov. Christie proposed merging Rutgers-Camden with Rowan University under a wide-ranging reorganization plan for the state's colleges and universities.
Rutgers-Camden students, alumni, and faculty fought the move, and the university's board of trustees threatened legal action to block it.
Pritchett emerged as an advocate for strengthening the campus' autonomy. The merger was later dropped from the proposal.
Before arriving at Rutgers, Pritchett served on Mayor Nutter's staff. He is a member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.