In February 2018, The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement officially opened, nearly a year after President Joe Biden was named as a Benjamin Franklin presidential practice professor.
Penn First Plus announced plans in May to open an office to better support first-generation, low-income students. The office launched as a place for FGLI students to form a community after an increased number of first-generation students enrolled as part of the Class of 2022.
After the death by suicide of seven students in 2017, Penn administrators and student leaders committed to strengthening mental health resources on campus. The University held a “Campus Conversation” to discuss resilience in times of tragedy, while Penn’s chapter of the nationwide nonprofit organization Project Let’s Erase the Stigma encouraged dialogues around mental health.
In August 2017, Penn Law professor Amy Wax co-authored a now-infamous op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer, arguing that white Anglo-Protestant culture is superior to non-white cultures. The controversial piece sparked outrage across campus, and Wax was ultimately barred from teaching a mandatory first-year law course.
In April, multiple students accused then-Psychology professor Robert Kurzban of sexual misconduct. Kurzban allegedly had romantic relationships with undergraduate students he directly oversaw, violating University policy that prohibits sexual relationships between faculty and students for whom they have a "supervisory academic responsibility." Following University investigations, Kurzban resigned in July. In March, University policy was modified to prohibit all sexual relationships between current undergraduates and faculty, beyond just the period of the teacher-student relationship.
On Feb. 4, the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl title, winning 41-33 against the New England Patriots. Following the victory, Penn students who had gathered on and off campus to watch the game rushed to the streets to celebrate with other fans.
Penn football wide receiver Justin Watson was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round of the NFL draft as the 144th overall pick. Watson was the first Penn player to be drafted since 2002, when former Penn football offensive lineman Jeff Hatch was drafted.