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Penn Integrates Knowledge professor Ezekiel Emanuel is a globally renowned bioethicist.

Credit: Alexandra Fleischman

For Penn President Amy Gutmann, Ezekiel Emanuel is “a man who wears many hats.”

Emanuel, a globally recognized bioethicist, joined the Penn community this semester as its 13th Penn Integrates Knowledge professor.

In his position as a PIK professor, he holds a joint appointment between the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, a new Perelman School of Medicine program that he chairs, and the Health Care Management Department in the Wharton School.

However, his list of responsibilities doesn’t end there. At Penn, Emanuel also serves as the vice provost for global initiatives.

He’s also the brother of Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, as well as Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood talent agent and the inspiration for the character Ari Gold on the HBO series Entourage.

The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with Ezekiel Emanuel to discuss his time so far at Penn.

Daily Pennsylvanian: What drew you to Penn?

Ezekiel Emanuel: The possibility of pursuing a lot of my interests. From domestic health policy to bioethics to global health issues, there are very few places in the country that would allow someone like me to integrate these things together.

Most of my scholarship is interdisciplinary, and the ability to collaborate with people from different fields, along with the ability to teach students from a variety of schools, is extremely exciting to me.

DP: What are some of the responsibilities that one of your new positions here at Penn, vice provost for global initiatives, entails?

EE: One of the big questions Penn is facing is how to engage with the world. Over the past 20 years, I think Penn has had a number of great ideas and platforms for global engagement, but there hasn’t really been a point person to push them forward. I think this provostship is a great starting point for us to build momentum around the world.

DP: What are some of your immediate goals to bolster Penn’s international initiatives?

EE: We’re going to be doing two things. First, we’re going to be taking a sort of inventory of exactly what Penn is doing overseas. With so many faculty and so many students abroad, the scope can be a bit hard to get your arms around.

Second, we want to develop a strategic plan, in conjunction with a number of people on campus, with a range of options so the University can make educated choices about where to invest its time moving forward.

DP: And your longer term goals? What is Penn currently doing right with its global engagement and what do we still need to improve on?

EE: The heartening news is that there’s a huge amount of interest [in global engagement] at Penn, both among faculty and students. I think what we could better is provide a more coherent set of opportunities to our students.

One of the things I’m particularly interested in promoting is the post-graduation year abroad. Once someone finishes college, I don’t think Penn has actually been a leader in getting students to go overseas for a year or two. That’s something I’d like to see change.

DP: Shifting gears a bit, what’s it like to be able to be able to say that Rahm Emanuel is your brother? Do you two share most political views, or do you clash over certain things?

EE: If the question is about putting a Republican in the room, then from that perspective we both agree. But he and I have different views about something like healthcare reform, as well as a lot of things … Sometimes we end up just having to agree to disagree, but we’re constantly discussing and considering what’s going on in the world.

DP: So you two still remain in close contact?

EE: Absolutely, we talk four, five, six, seven times a week.

DP: Overall, how have you found your time so far at Penn?

EE: Wonderful and intense are the two words that come to mind. Wonderful because I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interact with a tremendous number of people.

But it is intense because there’s a lot on the plate. With the exception of the first few months when I went to serve in the Obama administration, I probably haven’t worked this hard before. I’m just trying to juggle faster and faster … and keep my head above water.


Bioethicist named 13th PIK professor

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