The director of the Pan-Asian American Community House has suddenly left the University with no current plan announced to replace him.
College senior and Asian Pacific Student Coalition Chair Jeffrey Yu wrote in an email to PAACH student leaders that Peter Van Do, PAACH's former director of 10 years, is "no longer employed at Penn." Yu told The Daily Pennsylvanian on Thursday that no further information was provided to him on Van Do's departure by University Life. Van Do has not yet responded to multiple requests for comment.
In response to a request for comment, University spokesperson Ron Ozio directed the DP to Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives at University Life Mike Elias. Elias did not respond to an immediate request for comment.
Yu said that he was informed of Van Do's departure on Tuesday by Associate Vice Provost for University Life Will Atkins, and added that he was was cleared to share the news with the APSC's constituents on Wednesday.
APSC is in communications with Atkins in order to "elevate student voices" and concerns, according to Yu. He wrote that APSC's current top priority is to provide support to student groups which were previously supported by Van Do in the wake of the director position's vacancy.
Cindy Au-Kramer, PAACH's finance, operations, & program coordinator, is also filling in to answer questions about upcoming PAACH programs and events, according to an automatic reply from Van Do's email. Yu said that Au-Kramer has "stepped up" to support the student groups which previously worked with Van Do.
PAACH, which opened its doors in November 2000, supports over a dozen API student groups on campus, providing funding, mentoring, and work-study opportunities to Asian and Pacific Islander students at Penn. Van Do joined PAACH as its director in July 2012, coming from Cornell University — where he served as assistant director and program director for community center programs in the Student Activities Office.
Yu told the DP that many groups and student leaders that were supported by PAACH and Van Do have approached him and expressed frustration and sadness at Van Do's departure.
"I think a lot of people are in shock. This is not something that people saw coming at all," Yu said. "Peter was such a public figure for PAACH and the wider AAPI community at Penn."
Yu said that APSC's second priority is filling the PAACH director position as soon as possible. Currently, there is a search underway for an associate director of PAACH — a position which has remained unfilled for over three years — but Yu wrote that this process may be paused by University Life. There is currently no timeline for when the director position will be filled, according to the email.
Yu added that Atkins promised that APSC will have be able to provide input during the search process for a new PAACH director.
"This has been a pretty big shock for the API community at Penn, so I think a lot of people are still trying to navigate it and find a clear path forward," Yu said. "With a lot of the visions and dreams of APSC and the rest of the 7B and cultural resource centers starting to become realized, this seems like a big step backwards."
Senior reporter Jared Mitovich contributed reporting to this article.