A message to the Penn community on racial equity and justice

As leaders of the University of Pennsylvania, we write today to affirm unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms Penn’s unwavering commitment to advancing racial equity and social justice in our nation. These are principles that rest at the very soul of our mission.

Talking about race can be difficult. But we should never let that difficulty stand in the way of speaking up for fairness, equity, and compassion for all Americans, and for every member of our Penn community.

Inclusion has always stood as one of the three main pillars of the Penn Compact. Our University’s commitment to equity is long-standing. We are proud of the many steps that the University has taken historically, as well as the initiatives we have been able to launch in recent years to strengthen our efforts to achieve greater equity. We know we have much work still to do, but believe that many recent efforts are helping to move us in the right direction. We recently created the Office of Social Equity and Community, led by Vice President Chaz Howard, which is developing programs and initiatives that deepen awareness and help to advance the University’s mission of fostering social equity, diversity, and inclusion. Joann Mitchell has been promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, the first time the University has had such a position, giving diversity a truly senior voice at Penn.

Numerous initiatives are also having a meaningful impact, including:

  • The Campus Iconography Group, which just completed a report that outlines steps to ensure the placement and presence of statues and other prominent iconography on campus better reflects the University’s achievements and aspirations to increase the diversity of the Penn community.
  • A Comprehensive Review of the Division of Public Safety, which was designed to focus on ensuring a physically and emotionally safe environment on campus in a way that prioritizes and promotes anti-racism, racial equality and justice.
  • Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence has proven to be an important blueprint in bringing greater diversity to our faculty.
  • Penn First Plus and many other student-focused programs are helping to diversify our student body and provide support for low-income and first-generation students.

In addition to our many University, School, Health System, and Center led initiatives to combat racism, we are proud of the initiatives of all members of our community including faculty and student initiatives such as the Penn & Slavery Project and the Paideia Program’s panel conversations with faculty and guest experts tackling racial disparity.

As the country continues to grapple with enhancing racial equity, and as the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd concludes in Minneapolis and the emotions it touches rise ever more in people’s consciousness, we want everyone in the Penn community to know that there are resources available to support you if you are feeling stress, anxiety, or have any other concerns that this case has brought to the surface. A list of many of those resources is at the bottom of this memo.

This has been a tumultuous time for our community and our country. But with our ongoing work we are hopeful that good will spring from it in the form of increased awareness of the challenges that have confronted so many in minority communities across America and ultimately—and most importantly—in greater racial equity. Penn stands proudly with all of our communities of color on campus in the fight for equal treatment and equal justice.


Amy Gutmann, President

David L. Cohen, Chair, Board of Trustees

Scott L. Bok, Vice Chair, Board of Trustees

Wendell Pritchett, Provost

Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President

J. Larry Jameson, EVP Penn Health System, Dean Perelman School of Medicine

Kevin Mahoney, CEO, University of Pennsylvania Health System

Joann Mitchell, Senior Vice President for Institutional Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer

Gregory S. Rost, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff

Wendy White, Senior Vice President and General Counsel

John Zeller, Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations

Jeffrey Cooper, Vice President for Government and Community Affairs

John J. Heuer, Vice President for Human Resources

Charles “Chaz” Howard, Vice President, Office of Social Equity and Community

Trevor Lewis, Vice President, Office of Budget Planning and Analysis

Stacey J. Lopez, Vice President, Institutional Research and Analysis

Stephen J. MacCarthy, Vice President, University Communications

MaryFrances McCourt, Vice President, Finance and Treasurer

Thomas H. Murphy, Vice President for Information Technology

Medha Narvekar, Vice President and University Secretary

Anne Papageorge, Vice President, Facilities and Real Estate Services

Gregory J. Pellicano, Vice President, Office of Audit, Compliance and Privacy

Maureen Rush, Vice President, Division of Public Safety

Marie Witt, Vice President, Business Services

Sara Bachman, Dean, School of Social Policy and Practice

Steven J. Fluharty, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

Pam Grossman, Dean, Graduate School of Education

Andrew Hoffman, Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine

John L. Jackson, Jr., Dean, Annenberg School for Communication

Erika James, Dean, Wharton School

Vijay Kumar, Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science

Theodore Ruger, Dean, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Frederick R. Steiner, Dean, Stuart Weitzman School of Design

Antonia Villarruel, Dean, School of Nursing

Mark S. Wolff, Dean, School of Dental Medicine

Beth A. Winkelstein, Deputy Provost

Dawn Bonnell, Senior Vice Provost for Research

Ezekiel Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives

Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, Vice Provost for Student Engagement

Mamta Accapadi, Vice Provost for University Life

Constantia Constantinou, Vice Provost and Director of Libraries

Laura Perna, Vice Provost for Faculty

Peter Ammon, Chief Investment Officer

Russell Di Leo, University Comptroller

Resources and support

If you have any doubt about where to turn, Penn’s HELP Line is available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, at 215-898-HELP.

CAPS: 215-898-7021

Student Health Service: 215-746-3535

Student Intervention Services: 215-898-6081

Office of the Chaplain: 215-898-8456

Weingarten Learning Resources Center: 215-573-9235

Special Services (within Division of Public Safety): 215-898-6600

Employee Assistance Program: 866-799-2329