Aiming to build community on campus, new Presidential Commission takes shape

Reporting to Interim President J. Larry Jameson and co-chaired by deans Vijay Kumar and Katharine Strunk, the Presidential Commission on Countering Hate and Building Community unveils its charge and members.

The new Presidential Commission on Countering Hate and Building Community, launched during the fall semester and convened by Interim President J. Larry Jameson before winter break, has announced its charge and members. With an overarching goal to address the interconnectedness of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate, discrimination, and bias, and to determine ways to help build community on campus, this Commission complements the work being undertaken by the University’s Task Force on Antisemitism.

“We convened the Presidential Commission to take the lead on bringing our broad Penn community together to undergo the essential, healing work that this moment requires,” said Jameson. “Hate has no home here, and we are committed to rooting it out in all its forms.”

Co-chaired by Vijay Kumar, the Nemirovsky Family Dean of Penn Engineering and Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, and Katharine Strunk, dean of the Graduate School of Education and George and Diane Weiss Professor of Education, the Presidential Commission on Countering Hate and Building Community is charged to:

  • Listen and Understand: Engage broadly and deeply to better understand how Penn students, staff, and faculty experience hate and discrimination and how they believe Penn can move toward being a broadly inclusive community.
  • Consider What it Means to be a Penn Citizen: Examine what it means to be a responsible and engaged Penn Citizen and recommend strategies for how to foster such behaviors and norms.
  • Recommend Strategies to Build and Strengthen Community: Recommend strategies for how to strengthen Penn’s sense of community through education and engagement.
  • Recommend Strategies to Address and Counter Hate: Recommend strategies for how to support Penn community members who have been impacted by hate and how best to counter hate on campus.

The Commission’s members, listed below, will consult with campus leaders and local, regional, and national subject matter experts, and are expected to serve as a resource on campus to counter discrimination in all its forms. An interim report with recommendations from the Commission is expected this spring semester.

“We are proud to work with such a dedicated, diverse team making up this Presidential Commission, and we welcome the entire University community’s input in the days and months ahead,” said Kumar and Strunk. “Penn is strong and resilient, and we remain united by our care for one another and our love for this great institution. Together, we will listen, we will learn, and we will work to make our community even stronger and ensure Penn remains a place where everyone feels empowered to thrive.”

Commission members, in addition to the co-chairs, include:

Ranim Albarkawi
Vice President of the Undergraduate Assembly, fourth-year student at the School of Arts and Sciences

Tonya Bennett
Director of Educational Technology at the School of Veterinary Medicine

Sigal Ben-Porath
Faculty Director of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Paideia Program and MRMJJ Presidential Professor at the Graduate School of Education

Joretha (Jerri) Bourjolly
Associate Dean for Inclusion and associate professor/clinical educator at the School of Social Policy & Practice

Ezekiel J. Emanuel
Diane v.S. Levy & Robert M. Levy University Professor, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, and Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School

Adina Goldstein
Ed.D. Candidate in the Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education division at the Graduate School of Education

Martine Haas
Anthony L. Davis Director of the Joseph H. Lauder Institute for Management & International Studies, and the Lauder Chair Professor and professor of management at the Wharton School

Osagie Imasogie
Member of the Board of Trustees, chair of the Penn Carey Law’s Board of Advisors, and Penn Carey Law School alumnus

Sara Jacoby
Associate professor of nursing and assistant professor of nursing in surgery at the School of Nursing

Fariha Khan
Co-director of the Asian American Studies program at the School of Arts and Sciences

Steve Kocher
Senior associate chaplain and director of the Spiritual & Religious Life Center

Hikaru Kozuma
Vice Provost for University Life

Harun Küçük
Associate professor in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the School of Arts and Sciences

Joan Lau
Member of the Board of Trustees and a School of Engineering and Applied Science and Wharton alumna

Joseph E. Lowry
Associate professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the School of Arts and Sciences

Joann Mitchell
Senior vice president for Institutional Affairs and chief diversity officer

Josephine Park
School of Arts and Sciences President’s Distinguished Professor of English

Harlan Stone
Member of the Board of Trustees and a College of Arts and Sciences alumnus

Barbie Zelizer
Director of the Center for Media at Risk and the Raymond Williams Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication

Ex Officio members include Wendy White, senior vice president and general counsel, and Mark Wolff, Morton Amsterdam Dean of the School of Dental Medicine and chair of the Task Force on Antisemitism.

Jennifer Bieter and Rebecca Hayward are staff to the Commission.

Visit for more information on the Presidential Commission, and email to share your ideas, experiences, and perspectives.