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Roberto Gonzales will begin his role at Penn on July 1, 2021.

Roberto Gonzales, a scholar of the lives of immigrants in the United States, has been appointed the 25th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett announced.

Gonzales will be the Richard Perry University Professor with joint appointments in the department of Sociology in the School of Arts and Sciences and in the Graduate School of Education. He will begin his role on July 1, 2021.

"It is an immense honor to join the community of esteemed scholars at Penn and to be in the company of the University’s renowned Penn Integrates Knowledge Professors," Gonzales said. "I’m also thrilled to join Penn’s storied Sociology department and to become the first Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor in the Graduate School of Education."

The Penn Integrates Knowledge program, which Gutmann launched in 2005, seeks out faculty members with appointments in at least two schools whose research and teaching incorporate multiple disciplines. The Richard Perry Professorship is a gift from 1977 Wharton graduate and trustee Richard Perry and his wife Lisa, who gave $10 million in 2005 to launch the Penn Integrates Knowledge program.   

“Roberto Gonzales’ highly respected and celebrated work on immigration — on the experiences of people who cross bridges and borders in search of a better life — has never been more timely or important,” Gutmann told Penn Today. “By uniting sociology, education, and other social science disciplines, Roberto helps us to understand the lives and experiences of some of our nation’s most vulnerable people: immigrant and undocumented youth.

Gonzales is currently a professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the director of the Immigration Initiative at Harvard University. His scholarship focuses on how immigration policy shapes the ways immigrant youth adapt, come of age, and experience life in their receiving countries, Penn Today reported. 

His book, Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America follows 150 young adults living in Los Angeles without legal permission for 12 years. It has won eight major book awards and is commonly read by students in universities and school districts across the U.S., Penn Today reported.

Gonzales has also conducted extensive research on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to Penn Today.

"Considering more than a quarter of the city’s residents are either foreign born or the children of immigrants, immigration has played a significant role in Philadelphia’s past and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future," Gonzales said. "I’m interested in the role immigration is playing in communities undergoing change and how these changes are playing out in neighborhood spaces like schools, community organizations, and local businesses."