Retirement of Barbara Williams

December 14, 2021

To:Department Chairs and Directors of Centers and Institutes

From:J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, EVP/Dean
Jon Epstein, MD, EVD/CSO

With profound gratitude, we announce that Barbara C. Williams, who has admirably served the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Medicine for over 44 years, will be retiring at the end of the academic year.  In a career that has touched every aspect of our organization, we thank Ms. Williams for her four decades of invaluable contributions, which have significantly supported Penn Medicine’s rise on the world’s stage, in particular through her outstanding stewardship of our Committee on Prestigious Awards and Honors.

Barb, as she is fondly known by her colleagues, began her career at Penn Medicine in 1977 in the Department of Neurology, serving in a number of integral roles, including Neurology residency training program coordinator, departmental faculty affairs coordinator, and executive assistant to two department chairs – Drs. Arthur K. Asbury and Donald H. Silberberg.  In 1993, she moved to the Dean’s Office as the executive assistant to then-CEO/Dean, Dr. William N. Kelley. In that capacity, Barb designed a comprehensive database, which she still maintains in support of Penn Medicine Leadership and the Penn Medicine and Entity Boards.

Since 2005, Barb has served as our administrative lead for the School’s Awards Committee, chaired by Dr. Kelley. The mission of the Awards Committee is to identify the School’s most outstanding faculty deserving of recognition and submit nominations each year for every eligible award. The Committee currently manages nominations for 91 selected major national and international awards, as well as facilitates and tracks nominations for six multidisciplinary learned societies: the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), Association of American Physicians (AAP), National Academy of Medicine (NAM), National Academy of Sciences (NAS), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S), and the American Philosophical Society (APS). Barb provides the support necessary from start of the awards nomination process to the finish. Her masterful coordination allows for a seamless process, which has resulted in submission of 1,137 award nominations and receipt of 117 awards to date, a 10.2% cumulative success rate.  

We are fortunate that Barb is providing ample time for us to consider thoughtfully this transition, and we hope to provide some overlap with her to ensure a smooth one.  Ideal candidates for this role in supporting the Awards Committee should be highly organized and able to multi-task. Close attention to detail is necessary, as well as the ability to track multiple deadlines and schedules and interact with a wide range of individuals in a confidential and professional manner. Familiarity with Penn Medicine is a plus, and therefore we are sending this note now to see if there are any staff in your departments who may have interest in and the skills for this position.

We anticipate posting this job officially via WorkDay early in the new year.  If you have any recommendations before then, please contact

Thank you for your consideration.