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Vice President Maureen S. Rush joined Penn's Division of Public Safety in 1994.

Credit: Joyce Lin

Vice President for Public Safety and Superintendent of Penn Police Maureen Rush will retire from Penn at the end of December.

Rush has been at Penn since 1994, during which she launched several public safety initiatives on campus and faced criticism from University and Philadelphia community members. Penn has not yet named a replacement but will soon launch a search to recruit Rush's successor, Senior Executive Vice President Craig R. Carnaroli wrote in an email announcing Rush's impending departure.

Rush joined the University's Division of Public Safety in 1994 as the Director of Victim Support & Special Services, and two years later was named Chief of Penn Police before becoming Vice President in 2001, according to the email. In 2013, Rush was named Superintendent of the University's police department. 

Carnaroli commended Rush for overseeing a 63% reduction of crime in the Penn police boundary during her tenure and serving on the University’s Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare, which created the 898-HELP line and the Alternative Response Unit with the Philadelphia Fire Department for assisting Penn students who are in emergency situations. 

During Rush's tenure, DPS launched Closed Circuit Television and the PennComm center, which allows public safety experts to monitor Penn's campus without additional safety personnel, contactless PennCard entry to campus facilities, as well as the UPennAlert Emergency Notification System, Penn Guardian, and Penn Siren Outdoor System, Carnaroli wrote in the email.

These initiatives were "designed to enhance communication, in the event of a threat, among our community of 50,000 individuals living and working across 200 buildings set in a 300-acre campus," Carnaroli wrote.

"Throughout her 27-year Penn career, [Rush's] consistent motto has been 'it’s all about relationships.' Reflecting on her remarkable career, I can say that this philosophy has paid dividends for our university," Carnaroli wrote.

Rush has received heightened criticism from University and Philadelphia community members in recent years. The police murder of George Floyd in May 2020, which prompted nationwide protests against police brutality, sparked scrutiny of Rush and of Penn's police presence on campus and in West Philadelphia.

In July 2020, campus groups Police Free Penn and Penn Community for Justice demanded the University defund DPS and fire Rush. Police Free Penn also criticized Rush for her role as president of the Philadelphia Police Foundation, which has funded the purchase of militarized equipment used by the Philadelphia Police Department, according to database LittleSis.  

In Dec. 2020, Rush again drew criticism from community members after interrupting a Penn student's virtual University Council Open Forum speech with an expletive-laced comment: "F*** you, bitch." The University declined to pursue disciplinary action, and Rush said the comment was not directed at the student, who was advocating to give students, faculty, and staff Election Day off, but instead at Penn Police colleagues while being briefed on a COVID-19-related emergency. 

Police Free Penn also leveled criticism against Rush for creating an unsafe environment for students on campus. Some Black community members have alleged a pattern of racial profiling by Penn Police officers, and in a hearing on DPS conducted by the Penn Public Safety Review and Outreach Initiative, some students said police presence can be physically and emotionally traumatizing for people of color.

Carnaroli praised Rush's character and achievements at the University in the email. 

"By virtue of [Rush's] portfolio and long career, her impact as a great Penn citizen is in many ways unparalleled in helping shape the vibrant campus enjoyed today by our faculty, students, staff, visitors, and alumni," Carnaroli wrote in the email. "Most importantly, [Rush] has been a terrific friend and colleague and we will miss her hands-on, indefatigable leadership, collaborative spirit, work ethic, and passion for Penn."  

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