Challenge and Progress

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Penn can truly lead in this moment, and emerge better and stronger than before.

By J. Larry Jameson

In early December, I accepted the position to become Penn’s interim president in the wake of some of the most challenging times our University has ever faced. I am honored that the board of trustees asked me to serve in this role and embrace the responsibility clear-eyed about the difficulties facing Penn at this time.

Like you, I love Penn.

I have dedicated many years of my life to this amazing institution. I have been fortunate to serve as executive vice president of our health system and dean of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine for more than 12 years.

In the coming weeks and months, I look forward, with curiosity and an open mind, to learning from the Penn community and to sharing my own views. I am trained as a physician—healing is in my nature and skill set. I also trained as a scientist—hard-wired to ask challenging questions, pursue rigorous inquiry and debate, and ready to be proven wrong. I am a Penn parent, and I have had the pleasure of watching incredible students grow, explore their passions, and chart a path to make an impact on the world. My leadership role at Penn has exposed me to its unparalleled breadth of expertise and diversity of thought. It is humbling but invigorating to consider how I, along with other leaders at Penn, can serve the broad Penn community of faculty, students, staff, caregivers and, not least, alumni.

The last few months have been a profoundly painful chapter for our institution, for higher education, and for the world. Our recent leadership transitions have been distressing and destabilizing for all of us. There is pain, fear, and uncertainty in our community. I want to reiterate that every person at Penn should feel safe and be secure in the knowledge that hate has no home here. This is fundamental, but it is not enough. Together, we create and share values that make the University of Pennsylvania an institution where creativity flourishes, innovation creates new tools and medicines, civil debate poses and addresses challenging societal questions, and learning prepares us all to make the world a better place.

Our entire community—faculty, students, staff, alumni, caregivers, and the many friends of this University—can contribute to a new chapter in Penn’s nearly 300-year history. I have experienced the strength and solidarity that defines this remarkable place. With respect for one another, support for one another, and adaption to our changing world, Penn can truly lead in this moment, and emerge better and stronger than before. I hope you will join me in this important work and come together to support one another and the University we love. 

J. Larry Jameson is the interim president of the University of Pennsylvania.

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    1 Response


      Lots of good luck in your new role. As an “interim” you are in a great place to initiate major change to get the University and its faculty back on track. In the past 2-3 years, the DEI framework has emboldened those who would bring bigotry and hate to Penn. Even faculty are part of the bigotry network. Just read the Penn Gazette and the statements and actions of some faculty. A Biology professor asked why so many “old white men” had their photos hanging in the hallways. That set off a semester effort to get rid of whites and the department announced their work was done when, of 17 new photo portraits, one old white man was left — and I won’t even touch the anti-Semitism issue. I have written my concerns to the dean of A&S and the alumni representative on the Trustees board. No responses, of course, so I hope you can bring real change. Penn is clearly damaged.

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