Messages from Vice Provost Dr. Mamta Motwani Accapadi
It warms my heart to be in community with all of you as we enter the Spring 2021 semester. I know the past year has been very tough for so many of you. Your courage, vulnerability, and perseverance has moved me so deeply, and I am in awe of your collective and individual journeys. The past year felt very much like a calling: a calling for how we show up for ourselves and one another across the intersections of our identities; a calling for how we use our voices politically; a calling to be fully present and own our shared responsibility to racial justice; and a calling to be radical in how we love and care for ourselves fully.
A little about me… I joined the Penn community in August, as the Vice Provost for University Life. My colleagues and I are here for one reason- and that reason is you. I cherish the opportunity to serve and support your flourishing and success here at Penn. My greatest joy is working alongside all of you to co-create transformative experiences for our diverse student community.
I cannot even imagine how last semester (and several months) has impacted you. I found myself in a set of complicated emotions- confusion, grief, optimism, guilt, and so much more. Moving into this new community with a limited opportunity to connect with new people and make new friends took a toll on my well-being. While I feel hopeful, I am deeply aware that the coming semester will still be tough. I have had to ask for help during my own transition, and I hope you know it is okay for you to ask for help, too. The most beautiful thing we can do is be present for one another right now.
Some of you will still be working and learning from your home geographies outside of Philadelphia and, in some cases, outside of the United States. I want you to know that we are here for you, and we are committed to making sure you have access to the support services and community you need to center your well-being. Others of you may live in our College Houses or Greek chapter houses, or off campus in an apartment or house locally. I know this in-person experience will be radically different from what we have all known in the past. Thank you for your continued patience as we unfold into new ways of being in community while following the rapidly evolving public health guidelines and the Campus Compact.
In partnership with many student leaders, including the Undergraduate Assembly (UA) and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA), we hope to provide meaningful, socially distant opportunities to socialize, exercise, and unwind in person outdoors as public health guidelines allow. While this will be a different semester, I am deeply grateful for your creativity and compassion as you to develop new routines, make friends, deepen relationships, and center your joy.
I have a tradition with my daughter that I would like to share with all of you. When I drop her off to school, I say to her, “You are my heart and soul, and I love you very much.” I want you all to know, that you all are the heart and soul of our community, and I love you very much. I look forward to the time when we can be in community together physically and in-person.
With deep love,
AAPI Voices Spotlight Series
AAPI Voices Spotlight Series
Join Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH) for a conversation with Penn’s new Vice Provost for University Life, Dr. Mamta Accapadi, to learn about her experience as a Desi-American in higher education, her role in the Penn community, and how her identity informs her work.
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
7 pm – 8 pm
Speaker: Dr. Mamta Accapadi | Vice Provost for University Life
Registration for this event is required due to the limited number of guest participants.
Coming Together to Share a Story: Finding Strength in Vulnerability
Coming Together to Share a Story:
Finding Strength in Vulnerability
Come experience personal stories from members of the Penn Community who display grit and resilience in times of adversity.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Speaker: Dr. Mamta Accapadi | Vice Provost for University Life
Dr. Mamta Accapadi is Penn’s new Vice Provost for University Life. An experienced student affairs professional, she has been recognized for her sustained focus on leadership pipeline development and mentorship opportunities for historically underrepresented communities. Come hear about Dr. Accapadi’s recent journey from Rollins College to Penn and how she continues to focus on social justice education and issues impacting women of color.
*Registration for this event is required due to the limited number of guest participants. Please email Mariel Featherstone to attend.
Take time to vote: A message to the Penn community
Amy Gutmann, President; Wendell Pritchett, Provost; Craig Carnaroli, executive vice president; and Mamta Accapadi, vice provost for university life
Perhaps never before in our nation’s history has your vote been more important. This has been an unusually long and stressful campaign season. As it draws to an end, with Election Day just two weeks away, we write to encourage everyone in the Penn community to take the time to vote. Our democracy depends on all Americans making their voices heard.
Because Pennsylvania regulations mandate the necessary length of the semester, we are unable to declare a holiday for November 3. As we have previously announced, we are encouraging flexibility by supervisors to allow time for staff to vote, and we strongly support the recent Faculty Senate resolution calling on all faculty and instructors to accommodate students who wish to engage in election-related activities on Election Day. We encourage faculty to avoid tests on that day and to make as many accommodations as possible to ensure that there is no penalty to any student who may miss class to participate in the election process.
Whatever the outcome of the election, some members of our community will see their candidate lose, and we may not know the result until after November 3. We ask all of you to take particular care with each other in those days after the election and to model the empathy and civility at the heart of Penn culture. There are many resources available to those of you who may experience added stress or anxiety, which are listed at the bottom of this message. All of these resources are fully available online.
Democracies survive only if they are not taken for granted. They depend on the support of citizens. Elections determine their fate. Please take the opportunity to make your voices heard.
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.
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
A Message to Penn Students
Mamta Accapadi, PhD, Vice Provost for University Life
Benoit Dubé, MD, Associate Provost and Chief Wellness Officer
Beth A. Winkelstein, PhD, Deputy Provost
As we move into this long weekend, we want you to have all the tools and information you need to make safe and informed decisions for yourselves and each other. For those of you living on or near campus, please note that the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has issued new guidelines for college students, asking them to avoid social gatherings with people outside their households. This is a change from previous recommendations, and we ask you, whether you are living on or off campus, to follow this data-based guidance to help stop community transmission of the virus. This means limiting guests in our residential spaces and limiting our face-to-face social interactions, regardless of where and with whom we live and socialize. Since we are noticing that community spread of the virus is happening in smaller, intimate gatherings, we should as a Penn community do our part to help minimize risk that the virus will spread.
Moving forward, you may consider creating limited ‘social pods’ to minimize your own exposure to the virus and exposure to others. As members of our local community, let’s be good neighbors and remember our commitment to keeping our local community safe. We remain grateful for the choices you are making to care for one another during this time. The most powerful thing we can all do together is protect ourselves and one another through the simple actions of washing our hands regularly, wearing masks/facial coverings, and practicing physical distancing. You have done a great job of limiting larger gatherings, and we thank you for taking this seriously. As always, you have access to testing on campus, so please make use of that service, and please share with your friends.
We are here for one reason: your holistic well-being as you pursue your academic goals and personal dreams. There are many resources and community supports available to you to build community, to get involved, and to take care of yourselves. Your courage, leadership, and strength during this unprecedented start to the school year are an inspiration for us, and we are thankful for the flexibility, patience, and compassion you have demonstrated as we begin the academic year differently from how many of us hoped or imagined.