Message to the Penn Medicine Community

October 28, 2020

Dear Penn Medicine Colleagues,

We are standing with you all today, as citizens of Philadelphia and of our nation, with a vow to continue the vital work of dismantling systemic racism and hold up those among us who are hurting.

This week’s tragic death of Walter Wallace, Jr. – a young man of color living just blocks from our West Philadelphia campus – is superimposed on many other stresses, including the continued impact of COVID-19 and the extensive coverage of next week’s election. We are keenly aware of the acute pain that events like the death of Mr. Wallace causes in our communities, among our colleagues as well as the patients and families we serve.

Throughout Penn Medicine, we share a commitment to supporting those who suffer from mental illness and their families, and we will continue to invest in efforts to expand outreach and compassionate care for those in crisis. This is an issue that touches many of our own lives in different ways which makes this week’s tragedy even more painful.

Below, we share a message from Penn President Amy Gutmann, Provost Wendell Pritchett and EVP Craig Carnaroli, expressing support and concern below for those who are grieving across our entire University community. We, and other leaders at Penn Medicine, share their calls for action and compassion for one another in this difficult time.

 Resources are available to our faculty, staff, and their families through Penn COBALT and Penn Medicine Together, and through our Employee Assistance Programs. Penn’s HELP Line is also available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, at 215-898-HELP.

J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD

Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System

Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine

Kevin B. Mahoney

Chief Executive Officer, University of Pennsylvania Health System

A Message To The Penn Community

Regarding The Death Of Walter Wallace, Jr.


Amy Gutmann, President

Wendell Pritchett, Provost

Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President

Our community is grieving the loss of Walter Wallace, Jr. His death is a tragedy on so many levels, and a stark reminder of the life and death struggles faced by so many Black Philadelphians. This has been a year where we have witnessed the repeated violent deaths of people of color, and struggled with the emotions and rage that stirred. But Walter Wallace’s death is particularly hard for all of us at Penn, because it occurred in our West Philadelphia community. He was our neighbor. And his loss is felt profoundly.

It is at times like this that we need to be particularly mindful of taking care of each other, and remembering our common bond as a community here in West Philadelphia. We know that this is a particularly fraught time for students, faculty and staff of color. Words alone will not soothe their anguish, but we want them to know of our unequivocal support in this difficult hour.

We are also mindful of the needs of our West Philadelphia neighbors. Recently we announced Penn Medicine’s commitment to help transform Mercy Catholic Medical Center to ensure the continuity of care for the West Philadelphia community. It is an initiative that will, among many other things, provide important behavioral health services for the neighborhood.

We also want to remind the campus community of the mental health and support services available here at Penn. There are many places to turn for help in times of stress and grief. In addition to those formal channels, we urge you to look out for each other. There has never been a more important time to be personally supportive of friends, colleagues and classmates.

These are difficult times, where there are no easy solutions. Our thoughts are with the family of Walter Wallace, Jr., and our hope is that no other families suffer as they have this week.