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President Amy Gutmann (middle) honored Gregory Eells at the University Council Meeting. She is flanked by Provost Windell Pritchett (left) and moderator Emily Steiner, an English professor (right).

Credit: Mira Shetty

Penn President Amy Gutmann called on student leaders to publicize mental health resources following the death of Gregory Eells, the executive director of Counseling and Psychological Services, at a University Council meeting Wednesday evening.

Gutmann began the meeting with a moment of silence for Eells, who died on Monday.

“I want to say that in the tradition I come from, saving a life is saving a world, and losing a life is losing a world. We lost a world when we lost Dr. Greg Eells,” Gutmann said. 

Gutmann urged students to look out for one another's wellness and pushed student leaders to inform their peers about the available mental health resources on campus. 

"If you or anyone you know needs help of any kind, do not hesitate to reach out. We must look out for one another," Gutmann said. "And, as you all are leaders in this University community, you can play a special role in in spreading the word even further about available resources and about our all caring for one another. That is what a community is about."

Gutmann said that Penn is committed to mental health resources for students, faculty, and staff.

“We are absolutely committed ensuring that our students, faculty and staff have the resources they need, Gutmann said. “As you know, CAPS and Penn's other health and wellness resources are available."

Credit: Mira Shetty

Natasha Menon (left) is the president of Penn's Undergraduate Assembly and Greg Callaghan (middle) is the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.

The University Council meetings, which take place on seven Wednesdays throughout the year, bring together students and faculty leaders from across the University to discuss issues and events on campus at its meetings. Anyone is welcome to attend the meetings, and members of the community can submit proposals or questions to the Council. 

After Gutmann's message, David Fox, the director of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives, gave a presentation about academic themes, which was on the agenda before the meeting. The 20-minute meeting also included an announcement of the four focus issues for each of the University Council meetings this academic year. 

The issues are Penn’s Climate Action Plan, student research opportunities, campus security and emergency response plans, and the Power of Penn Campaign, said Stephen Kimbrough, Wharton professor and chair of the Council's Steering Committee.

Fox gave an introduction to the Year of Data, the academic theme year, and announced that the theme for 2020-2021 will be the Year of Jazz. He said that the Penn Reading Project for next year will center around "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," a play written by August Wilson. The work was first performed in 1984 and chronicles the 20th century African American experience.

Fox also told students attending the meeting that they are welcome to help develop events related to the themes this year and next year.