Penn Provost Wendell Pritchett announced on June 29 that Mamta Motwani Accapadi will serve as Penn’s new Vice Provost for University Life. Accapadi, the former Vice President for Student Affairs at Rollins College, will replace Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum beginning Aug. 17.
Accapadi has been an advocate for first-generation and low-income students, as well as children of immigrants, Pritchett wrote in his announcement. Accapadi is the child of immigrant parents herself and is a highly experienced national leader who is committed to goals of inclusion, community, and social justice, the announcement read.
Accapadi will leave her current role at Rollins after working there since 2013. Prior to her time at Rollins, she served as Dean of Student Life at Oregon State University for four years.
Pritchett wrote that he believes Accapadi will be a valuable asset to the Penn community in the "highly unusual" fall semester, which University administration announced on June 25 will be conducted in a hybrid of online and in-person instruction, in efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
As VPUL, Accapadi’s responsibilities will include advancing student care and wellness, developing student-led multicultural initiatives, leading conflict resolution, and creating diversity education programs and workshops at Penn.
“As we enter a highly unusual year for our students, Mamta’s insight, sensitivity, and experience — across every part of student life and including both large and small campus environments — will be a tremendous asset to our students and our entire campus community,” Pritchett wrote in the announcement.
Accapadi will come to Penn after years of experience serving many roles at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, including Diversity Education Coordinator, Advisor to Greek Life and Education, Coordinator of the International Teaching Assistant Program, Assistant Director of the Multicultural Information Center, and University Ombudsman.
She holds a Ph.D. and M.Ed. in higher education administration, as well as a B.A. in microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin.
After serving as VPUL for 25 years, McCoullum is leaving her position at the end of June. She will become the University’s inaugural Vice Provost for Student Engagement, as well as the Provost’s Distinguished Senior Fellow of Student Engagement in the Graduate School of Education.
McCoullum told The Daily Pennsylvanian earlier this year that in her new role, she will be able to focus more on Penn’s pipeline and college preparatory programs for high school students in Philadelphia, and will partner with the city's community leaders to better understand the public school system and identify areas where Penn can partner with students who wish to pursue post-secondary education.
Prior to becoming the VPUL, McCoullum, who came to Penn in 1977, served as the assistant to the VPUL, faculty director of Du Bois College House, and associate vice president at the University.
Pritchett said that he is grateful to the consultative committee that helped find the new VPUL as well as to McCoullum for her “landmark work” throughout her decades in the role.