1981 Penn Law School graduate David Cohen ended his term as Chair of the Board of Trustees on June 30.
Cohen — who served on the Board of Trustees for almost 12 years — will be replaced by 1981 College and Wharton graduate, 1984 Penn Law graduate, and investment banker Scott Bok, who began his appointment as chair of the Board of Trustees on July 1. Cohen currently serves as the Senior Advisor to the CEO at Comcast and has worked closely with the University and Penn President Amy Gutmann since 2004.
“Penn has become my No. 1 philanthropic and civic passion,” Cohen told Penn Today.
Cohen’s affiliation with Penn began when he did legal work for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. After serving on multiple Health System boards, he helped establish Penn Medicine, the umbrella organization of both the Health System and the Perelman School of Medicine. Cohen was asked to be the inaugural chair of Penn Medicine, which automatically made him a University trustee.
Former Board of Trustees Chair Jim Riepe later asked Cohen to be his successor, with the formal transition occurring in November 2009.
According to Penn Today, Cohen’s biggest challenge as chair of the Board of Trustees was responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and his role in discussing decisions, such as the University's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, with Gutmann.
“I will stack our performance up against any college or university in the country, and I think one of the reasons we exit COVID[-19] in as strong of a position [as] we are is because of [Gutmann’s] leadership and the plan that was put in place, and the plan that was executed,” Cohen told Penn Today.
Cohen credited multiple factors for his strong attachment to Penn, one being the relationships he has with other people involved in the University’s leadership, such as Gutmann and former Penn President Judith Rodin.
“Those personal relationships at the leadership level have certainly helped to bind me to the University,” he told Penn Today.
Another reason for his attachment to Penn is his involvement with organizations in the Philadelphia area, such as the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the National Urban League. Cohen credits his experience at Comcast, which is headquartered in Philadelphia, for strengthening his bond to the city.
“There's a symbiosis there that would make it hard to separate my passion and my commitment to all of those institutions as incredibly valuable contributors to life in Philadelphia,” he told Penn Today.
In light of his term as chair of the Board of Trustees ending, some speculate that Biden will appoint Cohen to be the United States ambassador to Canada. On July 2, Biden officially nominated Gutmann to be the next United States ambassador to Germany.