Tamara Greenfield King was named Interim Vice Provost of University Life on June 14 after Mamta Accapadi resigned from the position she had held since July 2020.
University Life serves to foster an inclusive campus to help students grow and prepare for a life of meaning and purpose.King – following Accapadi – will supervise six departments: Career Services, Civic House, Penn’s Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, the Office of Student Affairs, and Platt Student Performing Arts House.
King’s vision for the future focuses on connecting students through different spaces, centers, and interests.
“One of our really big strategies is interconnectedness and cross-campus collaborative initiatives and strategies,” King said to The Daily Pennsylvanian. King added how the University Life team wants to partner with other divisions – such as Student Health and Wellness – to provide students with a more positive, holistic experience.
At the end of July, University Life, along with campus partners, is hosting a full-day event dedicated to new mental health initiatives. The discussion will focus on how to “ensure student success, student thriving, positive student health, and positive initiatives as we open up the new school year,” King said.
Accapadi is looking forward to seeing University Life at Penn continue to flourish, now from the sidelines.
“It is going to be exciting to cheer on the University Life team as they champion the continued elevation of the student experience as aligned with the vision set forth by President Magill,” Accapadi said in a written statement to the DP.
Prior to being Interim Vice Provost of University Life, King was the Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs, working closely with Accapadi.
“Interim Vice Provost Tamara Greenfield King is a phenomenal educator and partner. She has always centered student care, dignity, relationships, and love as her core values,” Accapadi said in a written statement. “Penn students are lucky to have this opportunity to work with her.”
The University Life team already has a slate of events scheduled throughout the first semester, including the reopening of the ARCH on September 7; the building houses three cultural centers in its basement including Makuu: The Black Cultural Center, La Casa Latina, and the Pan-Asian American Community House. The reopening of the ARCH building is a continuation of Accapadi's prior efforts to expand the influence of cultural houses on campus.
“Students are at the table [helping make decisions], [there are] lots of working groups and lots of energy with our students around what that space will look like,” King said.
Members of Penn's minority coalition, the 7B, such as the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, the Latinx Coalition, and UMOJA have pushed for more cultural center space for many years. The 7B's primary goal has been to establish an individual building for each cultural center on Locust Walk.
UMOJA, the umbrella organization for Black student groups on campus, serves as a liaison between Black undergraduates and university administrators, including the University Life team.
UMOJA Finance Chair and College Junior Taussia Boadi is one of the students active in the conversations surrounding the ARCH building and a separate Black cultural house on Locust Walk.
“The goal for us was to move out of the basement and inhabit our own space just for Black students. That is not what happened,” Boadi said to the DP. “The cultural centers have access to the entire [ARCH] building now, but the actual hubs, that are the cultural centers, are not moving.”
With the expansion of space for cultural centers in ARCH, Boadi is hopeful that University Life will listen more to Black students and Black student-led organizations as UMOJA and other minority coalitions highlight their demands.
“We're trying to use the space in all different ways, so that it's a welcoming space,” King said. Multiple student welcoming events and a resource fair for the 7B will also be hosted in the added space.
“I am a very transparent leader. I welcome students coming to the table in a positive light,” King said. “We work for the betterment and the good, not just for the institution, but for the student experience, because that's really why we exist,” King said.