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The Penn Women's Center

Credit: Luke Chen

After a decade serving as director of Penn Women's Center, Felicity "Litty" Paxton has left her role to become the associate dean for undergraduate studies at the Annenberg School for Communication. 

The Penn Women's Center weekly newsletter announced Paxton's new position, which she officially assumed on Aug. 13. She is replacing former Associate Dean Amy Jordan, who left Penn after 21 years at the end of 2017 to be a professor at Rutgers University.

Jessica Mertz

Jessica Mertz, the director of PVP and former associate director of PWC, will serve as the interim director of the center for the semester as Penn "undertakes a national search for a new director," the newsletter wrote. Mertz added in an email that she will continue to serve as PVP director while heading up the women's center. 

"I am excited to provide support and leadership to the Penn Women's Center while VPUL conducts a national search for a new Director," Mertz wrote. "I have had the privilege of working closely with the PWC staff and many of the groups they advise over the years and am personally invested in it's continued success."

Paxton taught a number courses for the Critical Writing Program, the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program, in addition to serving as a residential faculty member for 12 years, the Penn Almanac reported. She has served as a lecturer in communications for a large portion of her time at Penn and was awarded the University of Pennsylvania Provost's Award for Teaching Excellence in 2018. 

Vice Provost for University Life spokesperson Monica Yant Kinney did not respond to immediate request for comment.

“I’m delighted to be transitioning to a full-time role in Annenberg and to have this opportunity to build on the great work of past Associate Deans,” Paxton said, according to the Almanac

Paxton received a graduate certificate in Women's Studies as well as a Ph.D. in American Civilization from Penn. She was named PWC director in September 2008, after serving as its assistant director. 

She oversaw the establishment of Penn Violence Prevention, a program providing education and advocacy about interpersonal violence, as well as the center's first lactation room, and the University's first Environmental Education Kitchen. 

Correction: A previous version of this article wrote that Paxton said she she will continue to serve as PVP director while heading up the women's center. It was in fact Mertz who wrote that. The DP regrets the error. 

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