New Year Message: Hearing, Healing, Honoring One Another

Welcome to a new semester and a new year at Penn!

As I begin my role as Interim President, people within our University and beyond are sharing with me their deep affection for Penn. They believe in Penn’s extraordinary work and our boundless potential.

I believe in Penn, too. Over the years, I have witnessed what we can do to make the world a better place.

Our campus and alumni communities have also expressed to me concerns about a range of timely and complex issues. I understand these feelings. The last few months have been deeply difficult in the world. Indeed, the last few years have been challenging overall. Yet, times like these also offer opportunities for leadership. The choices Penn makes now will not only help shape our future but will help define the place and purpose of higher education in our society.

Penn’s values and missions have served us well for nearly three centuries and will continue to guide us. However, we cannot be complacent and rely upon our impressive history. The world around us changes and the pace of change is accelerating. We can, and we will, adapt, whether the issue is cultural, climate-related, health-related, or the implications of AI. Penn has always tackled hard problems and with our 12 extraordinary Schools, we are well positioned to find solutions.

Today, I will highlight three ways in which Penn is actively moving forward, with more to share in the coming weeks.

We will begin implementing In Principle and Practice, Penn’s strategic framework.

In the coming year, I will ask every School and Center to consider how their unique and complementary skills can be leveraged to help Penn lead in a changing world. Working with our Deans and other institutional leaders, Provost Jackson and I will look for ways to support new initiatives that align with this exciting strategic vision for Penn’s future. For all of us—faculty, students, and staff—it is a great privilege to be at this University. We must make the most of it, together.

We are accelerating the important work of Penn’s Action Plan to Combat Antisemitism, as well as that of the Task Force on Antisemitism and the Presidential Commission on Countering Hate and Building Community.

These dedicated groups are hard at work, and I have asked them to provide interim updates with actionable steps we can take now, as well as recommendations that will serve Penn for the long term. Penn cannot, and will not, be a harbor for hate. At Penn, we hold ourselves to high standards—of excellence, respect, critical thinking, and the search for truth. Our community does, and should, hold different viewpoints. These can coexist with mutual respect, support, and engagement, exemplified by Penn initiatives, such as Conversations for Community.

We are ensuring a safe and secure campus for everyone at Penn.

Increased Penn Public Safety staffing, heightened campus presence, and extensive safety checks will continue. In addition to physical safety, it is important that every member of our community feels safe. This is essential for an effective learning and scholarly environment. It is the foundation for a positive Penn experience.

We will communicate frequently on these and other important efforts in the semester ahead, and we will seek your input and views. Most recently, I went into detail on a range of timely topics in an interview with Penn Today, which I encourage you to read.

In the spirit of the new year, I want to leave you today with one of my own resolutions—and one I hope everyone at Penn will share. Let us resolve to make this year one of hearing, healing, and honoring one another. In doing so, we will ensure that every member of our community knows that they truly belong.

As we address and manage many challenges, we should also celebrate the things that brought us to Penn. We came to Penn to learn and discover. To grow as individuals and as part of a community and to find joy in the experience. To make friends from across the country and around the world and to have fun. I know we can model the mutual respect, tolerance, and excellence that are the bedrocks of this exceptional place.

In this new year, let us stand together and do things that will amaze the world.


J. Larry Jameson
Interim President
University of Pennsylvania