New acting vice-rector for university life aims to strengthen cultural groups on campus

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Acting Vice Provost for University Life Tamara Greenfield King (left) and Acting Vice Provost Beth Winkelstein (right) on July 5, 2022. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Tamara Greenfield King was appointed Acting Vice-Rector of University Life on June 14 after Mamta Accapadi resigned from the post 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 oversee six departments: Career Services, Civic House, Penn’s Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, Office of Fraternity and Sorority, Office of Student Affairs, and Platt Student Performing Arts House.

King’s vision for the future focuses on connecting students across different spaces, centers and interests.

“One of our very big strategies is interconnection and cross-campus collaboration initiatives and strategies,” King told the Daily Pennsylvanian. King added that the University Life team wants to partner with other divisions — such as student health and wellness — to provide students with a more positive and holistic experience.

At the end of July, University Life, in collaboration with campus partners, organizes a one-day event dedicated to new initiatives in mental health. The discussion will focus on how to “ensure student success, student growth, positive student health, and positive initiatives as we usher in the new school year,” King said.

Accapadi looks forward to seeing college life at Penn continue to thrive, now on the sidelines.

“It’s going to be exciting to cheer on the University Life team as they champion the continued elevation of the student experience in line with the vision set forth by President Magill,” Accapadi said in a written statement to the DP.

Prior to serving as interim vice-president of university life, King was associate vice-president of student affairs, working closely with Accapadi.

“Acting Vice-Rector 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 list of events scheduled throughout the first semester, including the reopening of the CAMBER 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 previous efforts to expand the influence of cultural houses on campus.

“The students are at the table [helping make decisions], [there are] lots of group work and lots of energy with our students around what this space will look like,” King said.

Members of Penn’s minority coalition, the 7B, such as the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, Latinx Coalition, and UMOJA have lobbied for more space in cultural centers for many years. The main objective of 7B 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 undergraduate students and university administrators, including the University Life Team.

UMOJA and College Junior Finance Chair Taussia Boadi is one of the students active in conversations around the ARCH building and a separate black cultural house on Locust Walk.

“The goal for us was to get out of the basement and inhabit our own space just for black students. That’s not what happened,” Boadi told the DP. “Cultural centers have access to all [ARCH] built now, but the real centers, which are the cultural centers, are not moving.

With the expansion of space for cultural centers in ARCH, Boadi hopes that university life will listen more to black students and black student-led organizations as UMOJA and other minority coalitions highlight their demands.

“We try to use the space in different ways, so it’s a welcoming space,” King said. Several student welcome events and a resource fair for 7B will also be held in the added space.

“I am a very transparent leader. I welcome students who come 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 what we exist for,” King said.

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