A message to Penn students


Dear Penn Community,

With heavy hearts, we write to share that Michael Gavin ’26, an undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences, passed away on Saturday, October 14, 2023.

Michael was a native of West Chester, Pennsylvania. He attended the Hun School of Princeton and the Haverford School, where he was a deeply respected member of both institutions’ academic communities and athletic programs.

Michael intended to join his fellow Quakers in community and on Franklin Field as a dedicated member of Penn’s football team, but in June 2022, he learned that he had a rare form of brain cancer for which there is no cure.

The Gavin family said in a statement, "Michael accepted the devastating news and decided that he wanted to fight the disease as a Penn student-athlete. The entire Penn community that came into contact with Michael demonstrated that kindness is everywhere, meeting him where he was throughout his battle and fueling his will to live." 

In the 2022-23 academic year, Michael received the Coach Lake Award, which is awarded to the player who demonstrates leadership, team spirit, and unwavering Penn pride.

His coach, Ray Priore, shared this sentiment about Michael’s camaraderie and spirit: “Today the world lost a truly special soul. For the last two years, Michael has fought the fiercest battle anyone could: stage 4 brain cancer. He will forever be one of the toughest and bravest men I have ever met. His legacy will live on in all our hearts, and he will forever be a part of the Penn football family. On behalf of the staff and team, I offer my deepest condolences to the Gavin family and to all of those who had the honor to know and love Michael.”

Penn student-athletes who are seeking support are encouraged to reach out to Dr. Liz Nobis, athletics psychologist in the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics.

Additionally, Student Health and Counseling’s Let’s Talk program will have staff available for free and confidential drop-in conversations throughout the week.

Penn is a supportive community, and we are here for each other through challenging situations. We know that grief can affect people in various ways. Now and always, Penn stands with you, and we want to comfort you. Please use the resources below if you need support.


If you have a personal or academic concern and want to talk to someone at Penn:

  • The University Chaplain’s Office (215-898-8456) provides pastoral support, informal advising, and counseling to students in need of care and comfort. Chaplain’s Office staff are here “to be a shoulder, to be an ear, to be a friend, to be a fellow sojourner, to be an advocate, and a faithful presence.” The Chaplain’s Office works with faith communities and campus ministers who also provide spiritual support. Students of all faiths are warmly welcomed.
  • School advising offices:
    • College of Arts and Sciences (215-898-6341)
    • School of Engineering and Applied Science (215-898-7246)
    • School of Nursing (215-898-6687)
    • Wharton Undergraduate Division (215-898-7613)
  • Additional supports include your house director, the faculty director and fellows in your college house, your RA, student organization advisors, and other staff and faculty you know and trust.


If you don’t feel well:

Student Health and Counseling (215-746-3535) offers comprehensive primary care, including services to help you eat well, sleep well, and reduce stress. Please call 215-746-3535 to schedule an appointment with a provider or speak to a nurse who can help with your care. You may also schedule an appointment through the Wellness portal.


If you aren’t sure where to go or you’re concerned about a friend:

  • The Division of Public Safety’s HELP line (215-898-HELP/215-898-4357) is a 24/7 service that connects Penn students, staff, faculty, and families with appropriate resources.