This story is developing and will continue to be updated.
Penn's Board of Trustees has appointed J. Larry Jameson — executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and dean of the Perelman School of Medicine — to serve as the University's interim president following the resignation of Penn President Liz Magill on Saturday afternoon.
Jameson, the University's longest-serving dean, was approved as interim President during a virtual meeting of the Executive Committee of the University Board of Trustees on Tuesday afternoon. All those assembled at the meeting — led by Interim Board of Trustees Chair Julie Platt — voted in favor of Jameson.
The appointment was listed in the Trustees' Executive Committee meeting agenda for a scheduled meeting at 2 p.m. His appointment will be effective today until a permanent president is appointed.
"Before I present the resolution, I want to thank Liz Magill for her service to our university, and now with her resignation as president, the trustees wish to appoint Dr. Larry Jameson as interim president, a position which he will hold until a permanent president is appointed," Platt said.
Jameson introduced himself to the University community in an email on Tuesday evening.
“In the coming weeks and months, I look forward, with curiosity and an open mind, to learning from you and to sharing my own views with you,” Jameson wrote in the email.
He addressed the recent “profoundly painful chapter” for the University, referring to recent leadership transitions as “distressing and destabilizing.”
“I want to reiterate that every person at Penn should feel safe and be secure in the knowledge that hate has no home here,” Jameson wrote. “Together, we create and share values that make the University of Pennsylvania an institution where creativity flourishes, innovation creates new tools and medicines, civil debate poses and addresses challenging societal questions, and learning prepares us all to make the world a better place.”
Several University administrators expressed support for Jameson in statements to The Daily Pennsylvanian following his appointment.
School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Vijay Kumar referred to Jameson as “the best candidate for this job,” adding that he is “relieved" Jameson has taken on the responsibility during this “critical juncture.”
Wharton School Dean Erika James also told the DP that Jameson’s experience makes him an ideal candidate for the role.
“I am confident he will be a unifying force as we focus on the urgent challenges at Penn and advance our academic mission,” James wrote.
Provost John Jackson Jr. described Jameson as a “deeply collaborative, strategic, and experienced leader” who knows the University community well.
“We are all indebted to him for so graciously agreeing to take on this role — as we are to Liz Magill and Scott Bok for their great service to Penn during these challenging months,” Jackson wrote.
Similarly, School of Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel cited Jameson’s “proven track record at Penn Medicine” as a reason why he is the “ideal person to lead” the University, and University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Dean Sophia Lee praised Jameson’s “experienced leadership.”
Jonathan Epstein, the executive vice dean and chief scientific officer of the Medicine School, will serve as the school's dean and the system's executive vice president in an interim capacity while Jameson is interim president, according to a message from Platt to the University community following the meeting.
All leaders of the Perelman School of Medicine are expected to meet later today to discuss Jameson's appointment, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The announcement of Magill's resignation came after growing scrutiny over Magill's remarks at a congressional hearing of the United States House Committee on Education and the Workforce and almost two months after several alumni and donors called for her resignation following the Palestine Writes Literature Festival and Hamas' attack on Israel. Magill is the first president to resign from the Penn presidency for reasons other than a government appointment.
Scott Bok also stepped down from his position as the chair of the University Board of Trustees. Platt, formerly vice chair, is now serving as interim chair until a successor is appointed before the start of the spring semester.
"A consummate University citizen and the longest serving current dean, Dr. Jameson is a collaborative, innovative and visionary leader with extensive engagement with each of Penn's 12 schools," Platt said at the meeting.
Jameson has served as executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and dean of the Medical School since 2011. He previously served as dean of the Feinberg School of Medicine and vice president of medical affairs at Northwestern University.
Jameson has served in several advisory roles with other schools in the University, including sitting on the Consultative Committees for the selection of the Provost and the Dean of the Wharton School. He also previously served on the Presidential Selection Committee.
Under Jameson's tenure as dean, the Perelman School rose to No. 3 in Research in the U.S. News and World Report Medical School rankings, before ending its participation on Jan. 24 -- three days before the deadline to submit data for the coming year.
After ending its participation on Jan. 24 — three days before the deadline to submit data for the coming year — the Medical School rose to No. 2 on the 2023-2024 U.S. News Best Medicine School Rankings.
"Dean Jameson is the best candidate for this job," Engineering Dean Vijay Kumar said in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian. "We are a critical juncture and I am so relieved that Dean Jameson has agreed to taken on this responsibility."
This year, Katalin Karikó, an adjunct professor of neurosurgery at the Medical School, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for her research into mRNA technology alongside Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research at the Medical School Drew Weissman. Karikó had previously been mistreated by the University due to a lack of grant funding, and left Penn's campus in 2013 — two years after Jameson started his tenure — to work at BioNTech, a German company that focuses on mRNA-based technologies.
Jameson presented Karikó and the Weismann Lab with the Dean's Distinguished Award on Nov. 12. Numerous other research-related breakthroughs were made at the Medical School during Jameson's tenure, most notably the development of chimeric antigen receptor T cell immunotherapy — for which Medical School professor Carl June received the 2024 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
Jameson also spearheaded the construction and opening of the Pavilion, Penn Medicine's 1.5-million-square-foot, 17-story facility which opened to patients in fall 2021.
On Dec. 7, Jameson and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System Kevin Mahoney released a statement denouncing calls for genocide as a form of hate. The letter stated that Penn Med will not tolerate antisemitism or other forms of hate, adding that the leadership has heard inquiries about how Penn Med is working "to ensure safety and provide patient care that is free of bias."
Jameson and Mahoney also wrote to the Penn Medicine community Monday following Magill and Bok's resignations, where they expressed support for Platt and the soon-to-be-named interim president.
"The University of Pennsylvania is centuries old and has witnessed innumerable challenges, only to emerge ever stronger, and positioned to spread the light of knowledge and truth throughout the world," Jameson and Mahoney wrote.
Magill is the first president to resign from the Penn presidency for reasons other than a government appointment. The announcement comes less than two years into Magill's tenure, which began on July 1, 2022. Magill was nominated as Penn's ninth president on Jan. 13, 2022 and was formally inaugurated in October.
Per the Penn Faculty Handbook, “When it becomes necessary to elect a new President, the Chair of the Board of Trustees shall convene a Consultative Committee, composed of trustees, deans, faculty, staff, and students, to advise in the selection process.” The chair is also responsible for creating a search committee.
A final candidate for the permanent president position is then brought forth by the Executive Committee to be voted on by the full board. A candidate must receive an affirmative vote from two-thirds of the trustees to be elected president.
"On behalf of the trustees and the entire Penn community, I would like to thank Dr. Jameson for his willingness to serve in this important role," Platt said. "Penn is fortunate to have the benefit of his experience and leadership during this time of transition."
Jameson received his medical degree and Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of North Carolina in 1981. He completed his clinical training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, focusing on internal medicine and endocrinology.