After hiring second diversity czar, Penn limits Ph.D. admissions amid financial woes

The University of Pennsylvania will pause admissions of Ph.D. students who receive university funding.

Despite previously expressing concerns about finances, Penn recently added a Vice President of Social Equity position.

Citing budgetary concerns, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences will halt admissions for school-funded Ph.D. programs during the 2021-2022 school year.

School of Arts and Sciences Dean Steven Fluharty and Associate Dean for Graduate Students Beth Wenger said in an email to staff that the effects of COVID-19 on the university’s finances led to the decision, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

“While we recognize that this news is disappointing, we also believe that this is the most responsible course of action in these unsettled times,” read the email. "We hope to accept applications in the fall of 2021 and welcome a new cohort of graduate students in the 2022-23 academic year."

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Penn will instead reallocate funds to students who require additional time to finish their graduate work.

Campus Reform previously reported that the University of Pennsylvania hired a second administrative position — the “Vice President for Social Equity” — charged with focusing on diversity, despite previously expressing concerns about the university’s finances.

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According to UPenn’s IRS filings, the university’s current Chief Diversity Officer earned more than $580,000 for the fiscal year ending June 2018. When Campus Reform asked about the salary of the Vice President for Social Equity, the university did not respond.

In April, the university posted a message to its website explaining potential furloughs and layoffs due to COVID-19: “As the impact of COVID-19 is uneven across the University, each School and Center will need to develop a plan that addresses its unique circumstances."

Harvard University also announced that it would pause doctoral admissions at its Graduate School of Education, citing financial difficulties related to COVID-19. In a statement, School of Education spokesman Bari Walsh wrote that “the proactive decision-making has put us on confident ground and helped us prioritize the highest-quality learning experience and the continued academic progress of our students.”

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