GSWS Care Work Recommendations for University of Pennsylvania

August 11, 2020

The following message was sent to President Gutmann and Provost Pritchett on August 11, 2020


Dear President Gutmann and Provost Pritchett, 

We, faculty, staff, and students of the University of Pennsylvania, are writing today to call attention to the extreme circumstances of our work lives since the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Many of us have been engaged in synchronous work as parents, teachers of our own children, child care providers, and full-time employees and/or students of Penn, without pause, since March. In most cases our workloads have actually increased from our home “offices”, as faculty struggle to meet the demands of transferring courses and advising to online formats, and staff learn new technological skills to move programming online, while also dealing with new reporting requests to document the numbers of attendees and students supported each week. We have been laboring at home, using our own computers and other office supplies, with our children, elderly parents, and other dependents present, in the ultimate entanglement of work and home life. Many of us do not feel that our material conditions have been sufficiently acknowledged, nor has our plight been addressed in any meaningful way, by the University. To date, those of us who have reached out for support have been informed that there is nothing that the University can do to address our situation as caregivers, suggesting instead that we find individual solutions to what is a well-documented structural issue; one that pre-dates the pandemic, and one that, if no immediate action is taken, will surely deepen. Below, we have outlined ten recommendations that, if taken seriously by the University, will help to alleviate some of the pressure many Penn employees and students have felt keenly over the past several months during the “work from home” period, while also supporting local educational facilities. As we prepare for the fall, it is critical that Penn take a leadership role amongst its peers by addressing these issues in a structural, comprehensive, and timely way.

We recognize that Penn employees and students are not alone in their plight. The caregiving crisis exposed by the global pandemic has been the topic of discussion in national forums for months. But we also recognize that the University of Pennsylvania enjoys resources and a privileged location in the community that could enable us not only to meet the demands of this current moment, but to be forward-looking about how we address the care work needs of our employees, students, and the surrounding Philadelphia community in the future.

We recommend the following:

  1. The University should create a fund available to graduate students/faculty/staff who are facing increases in child care as a result of COVID procedures/increases in fees, or who need additional dependent care support because of school/day program/other closures. This should be a blanket fund given to all care takers with the possibility for well-remunerated caregivers to opt out. 

  2. The University should restructure the arrangement with the program “BackUpCare” to be by the hour not by the day. Currently, it is specified at 10 days for the year for faculty and staff (7 days for postdocs and students) and up to 10 hours in one day, but it is based on daily not hourly use. The arrangement needs to be restructured by the hour in order to maximize on the needed time throughout the year and it should be substantially increased in response to the austere work conditions of the pandemic. 

  3. The University should make targeted and substantial donations to quality child care centers (starting with those in zip code 19104), offsetting the costs of implementing COVID prevention recommendations and contributing to the local community. 

  4. The University should pay PILOTS in support of the Philadelphia Public School system, a chronically underfunded school system. This will help the district to provide instruction safely to students during the COVID period and beyond.

  5. The University should immediately pause all performance appraisals for staff, allowing staff members to opt in if they choose. 

  6. For Academic Departments: all tenure clocks should be extended by at least one year. This should not be an opt-in extension, but a blanket extension that people can choose to decline. (Our current understanding is that this has varied by School. It should be universal and blanket.) 

  7. For Academic Departments: service obligations that do not have teaching releases should be re-allocated or more evenly distributed.

  8. For Academic Departments: when deciding which classes to cancel because of low student enrollment or the instructor’s inability to teach in person, instructors with care burdens should be prioritized. 

  9. For Academic Departments: prioritize co-teaching so that faculty members can share the burden of course development and teaching, and enjoy the security of backup instruction should one faculty member fall ill and/or experience a loss of caretaking support.

  10. For Academic Departments: departments should adopt a 'sliding scale' of what is required to secure any given grade in any given class proportionate to how much work time was lost as a result of covid-19/unexpected care work and other acute challenges (such as those posed to Black and international students dealing with the effects of racism and a hostile political situation on top of COVID-19). This would help equalize outcomes and support students through this unprecedented time. 

We urge you to give these recommendations your fullest consideration. Thank you for your attention.


  1. Alexander Adames, PhD Student, Sociology

  2. Shoshana Adler, Graduate Instructor, English/SAS

  3. Julia Alekseyeva, Assistant Professor of English/Cinema and Media Studies

  4. Nikhil Anand, Associate Professor, Anthropology

  5. Rachel Appel, Penn Libraries, Digital Preservation Librarian 

  6. David S  Azzolina, Penn LIbrarians, GSWS

  7. Shana Bahemat, Program Coordinator, APC & GSWS

  8. Regina Baker, Assistant Professor, Sociology

  9. Apurva Bamezai, PhD Student, Political Science 

  10. Catherine Bartch, Associate Director, Latin American and Latino Studies 

  11. Tayeba Batool, PhD Student, Anthropology

  12. Sarah Bauman, Library Assistant, Penn Libraries 

  13. Herman Beavers, Professor of English/Africana Studies

  14. Gwendolyn Beetham, Associate Director, Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies

  15. Nicholas Bell, PhD Candidate, Political Science

  16. Nancy Bentley, Professor, English

  17. Siarhei Biareishyk, Visiting Assistant Professor, German/REES

  18. Julia Bloch, Director, Creative Writing Program

  19. Courtney Boen, Assistant Professor, Sociology

  20. Stephen Bonett, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Nursing

  21. Toni Bowers, Professor, English

  22. Ricardo A. Bracho, Artist-in-Residence, GSWS/APC

  23. Pearl Brilmyer, Assistant Professor, English 

  24. Ashley Brock, Assistant Professor, Romance Languages

  25. Jamiella Brooks, Associate Director, Center for Teaching and Learning

  26. Kathleen Brown, David Boies Professor of History

  27. Loretta Brown, Staff Member, PENN Libraries

  28. Veronica Brownstone, PhD Student, Hispanic Studies

  29. Robert C. Bryant, PhD Student, Department of Anthropology

  30. Ellen Bryer, PhD Student, Sociology 

  31. Clarissa Busch, PhD Student, Philosophy

  32. Randall C. Burson, MD-PhD Student in Anthropology and Medicine

  33. Elizabeth Bynum, PhD Candidate, Music and Anthropology 

  34. Kimberly Cardenas, PhD Candidate, Political Science

  35. Sarah Carson, PhD Candidate, Anthropology

  36. Max Cavitch, Associate Professor, English

  37. Kennan Cepa, PhD Candidate, Sociology

  38. Chetan Cetty, PhD Candidate, Philosophy

  39. Linda Chance, Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations

  40. Hsiao-wen Cheng, Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations

  41. Rosemary Clark-Parsons, Associate Director, Center on Digital Culture and Society

  42. Jean-Christophe Cloutier, Associate Professor, English

  43. Chelsea M. Cohen, PhD student, Anthropology

  44. Thomas Collins, PhD student, English

  45. Thomas Conners, PhD Candidate, Hispanic Studies

  46. Timothy Corrigan, Professor Emeritus, English/Cinema and Media Studies

  47. Manuel de la Cruz Gutiérrez, Staff Member, Penn Libraries

  48. Anat Dan, PhD Student, Comparative Literature

  49. Hadja Diallo, lecturer, Nursing 

  50. Agustin Diaz, PhD student, Economics

  51. Ezekiel Dixon-Román, Associate Professor, SP2

  52. Ivan Drpić, Associate Professor, History of Art

  53. Allison Dunatchik, PhD Student, Sociology

  54. Abigail Dym, PhD student, Political Science & Education 

  55. Jamal J. Elias, Professor, Religious Studies

  56. Tomas Elliott, Comparative Literature

  57. David L. Eng, Richard L. Fisher Professor, English

  58. James English, John Welsh Centennial Professor of English

  59. Jane A. Evered, Adjunct Instructor, Nursing

  60. Zahra Fakhraai, Associate Professor, Chemistry

  61. Huda Fakhreddine, Associate Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

  62. Tulia G. Falleti, Class of 1965 Term Professor Political Science, Director LALS.

  63. Siyen Fei, Associate professor, Department of History 

  64. Marcia Ferguson, Theatre Arts Program

  65. Kim Fernandes, PhD student, Graduate School of Education and Anthropology

  66. Arlene C. Fernández, PhD student, Annenberg School for Communication

  67. Lauren Ferreira Cardoso, PhD Candidate, SP2

  68. Sebastián Figueroa, PhD Student, Hispanic Studies

  69. Dalmacio Flores, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

  70. Mike Gadomski, PhD candidate, Philosophy

  71. Alba Solà Garcia, PhD Student, Hispanic Studies

  72. Samantha Gillen, PhD Candidate, Romance Languages 

  73. Sebastián Gil-Riaño, Assistant Professor, History and Sociology of Science

  74. Juliet Glazer, PhD Student, Departments of Anthropology and Music

  75. Loren Goldman, Assistant Professor of Political Science

  76. Marie Gottschalk, Professor of Political Science

  77. Pilar Gonalons-Pons, Assistant Professor of Sociology

  78. Linda Grabner Travis, Lecturer, SPAN & Managing Editor, Hispanic Review

  79. Kendra Grimmett, PhD Candidate, History of Art

  80. Chao Guo, Associate Professor, SP2

  81. India Halstead, Teaching Associate / Graduate Student, SAS

  82. Sa Min Han, PhD Candidate, Stuart Weitzman School of Design

  83. Hanne Harbison, Lecturer, School of Nursing

  84. Shaquilla Harrigan, PhD Student, Sociology

  85. Lauren Harris, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology

  86. Katelyn Hearfield, PhD Student, Department of Music

  87. Taylor Heath, PhD Student, Sociology

  88. Kathryn Hellerstein, Professor, GRMN & Director of Jewish Studies, SAS

  89. Matty Hemming, PhD Student, Department of English

  90. Paul Hendrickson, Senior Lecturer, Department of English

  91. Amy Hillier, Associate Professor, School of Social Policy & Practice

  92. Sukaina Hirji, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy

  93. Frances Hoenigswald, Library Clerk, Van Pelt Library

  94. Sophie Hochhäusl, Assistant Professor, Architecture 

  95. Caroline Hodge, PhD Candidate, Anthropology

  96. Morgan Hoke, Assistant Professor, Anthropology & Population Studies

  97. Amey Hutchins, Librarian, Kislak Center, Penn Libraries

  98. Roberta Iversen, Assoc. Prof., Social Policy & Practice

  99. Sarah J. Jackson, Annenberg School for Communication

  100. Jasmine Johnson, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies

  101. Grace Sanders Johnson, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies

  102. Richard James, Penn Libraries, Nursing Liaison Librarian

  103. Margaret Janz, Penn Libraries

  104. Audrey Jaquiss, PhD Student in Political Science 

  105. Jeff T. Johnson, Lecturer, English

  106. Sanjay Jolly, Penn Law JD ‘21, Annenberg School for Communication PhD Candidate

  107. Gillian Maris Jones, PhD Student, Anthropology and Africana Studies

  108. Staci Jones, PhD Student, Annenberg School for Communication 

  109. Indivar Jonnalagadda, PhD Student, Anthropology and South Asia Studies

  110. Sarah H. Kagan, Professor-CE of Gerontological Nursing, School of Nursing

  111. Archana Kaku, PhD Candidate, Political Science

  112. Ayako Kano, Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations/GSWS

  113. Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, Professor, History

  114. Jonathan D. Katz, Interim Director, GSWS/APC, Associate Professor of Practice, History of Art

  115. Jeffrey J. Katzin, PhD Candidate, History of Art

  116. Suvir Kaul, A M Rosenthal Professor of English

  117. Amanpreet Kaur, Staff Member, Penn Libraries

  118. David Kazanjian, Professor of English and Comparative Literature

  119. James Ker, Associate Professor of Classical Studies

  120. Fariha Khan, Associate Director, Asian-American Studies 

  121. Dana Khromov, PhD student, Romance Languages

  122. Regan Kladstrup, Kislak Center, Penn Libraries

  123. Davy Knittle, PhD Candidate, English 

  124. Hilah Kohen, PhD Student, Comparative LiteratureCandidate

  125. Ann Kuttner, Associate Professor, History of Art

  126. Shaleigh Kwok, Lecturer, Critical Writing Program

  127. Yingchen Kwok, PhD Student, History and Sociology of Science

  128. Nathalie Lacarrière, PhD , Romance Languages

  129. Chris LaMack, PhD. Student, Anthropology

  130. Andrew T. Lamas, Faculty, SAS & SP2

  131. Isabelle Langrock, PhD student, Annenberg School for Communication

  132. Kirsten Lee, Ph.D. Candidate/Graduate Instructor, English

  133. Anna Lehr Mueser, PhD Candidate, History and Sociology of Science

  134. Robin Leidner, Associate Professor of Sociology

  135. B. Tyler Leigh, PhD student, Communication and Political Science

  136. Michael Leja, Professor and Chair, History of Art

  137. Lidia León-Blázquez, PhD, Lecturer in Foreign Languages, Department of Romance Languages (Hispanic & Portuguese Studies)

  138. Elisheva Levy, PhD. Student, Architecture

  139. Jeanne Lieberman, PhD Student, Anthropology

  140. Jessa Lingel, Associate Professor, Annenberg School for Communication

  141. Ania Loomba, Professor, English.

  142. Heather Love, Professor, English

  143. Samantha Love, Phd Student, Sociology

  144. Mili Lozada, Lauder Institute 

  145. David M. Lydon-Staley, Assistant Professor, Annenberg School for Communication

  146. Brendan Mahoney, PhD Student, Annenberg School for Communication

  147. Casey Mahoney, PhD candidate, Political Science

  148. Zain R. Mian, PhD Student, Comparative Literature

  149. Megan Matthews, Assistant Professor, Chemistry

  150. Autumn Melby, PhD Student, Anthropology 

  151. Meredith Methlie, Administrative Director, Organizational Dynamics

  152. Alicia Meyers, Ph.D. Candidate, English

  153. Lisa Miracchi, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

  154. Kristina Mitchell, PhD Candidate, Hispanic and Portuguese Studies

  155. Daniel Morales-Armstrong, PhD student in Africana Studies and History

  156. Sheila Murnaghan, Professor of Classical Studies

  157. Maria Murphy, Interim Associate Director, Alice Paul Center

  158. Megan Murray, PhD Student, Political Science 

  159. Paul Musso, PhD Student, Philosophy

  160. Robert Naborn, Lecturer, Dutch Studies, Germanic Languages and Literatures

  161. Pris Nasrat, PhD Student, Annenberg School for Communication

  162. Olga Nechaeva, PhD Student, Comparative Literature and Literary Theory

  163. Julie Nelson Davis, Professor, History of Art

  164. Laura Nickrosz, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships, Annenberg School for Communication

  165. Elizabeth Oakley, PhD Candidate, Anthropology

  166. Amy C. Offner, Associate Professor, History, SAS

  167. Josephine Park, Professor, English and Asian American Studies

  168. Litty Paxton, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies, Annenberg School for Communication

  169. Victor Pickard, Professor, Annenberg School for Communication

  170. haley pilgrim, PhD Candidate, Sociology

  171. Kevin M. F. Platt, Professor, Russian and East European Studies

  172. Sara Purinton, PhD student, Philosophy

  173. Isaac Rabbani, PhD Student, Economics

  174. Ken Raining, Circulation Desk Administrator, Van Pelt Library

  175. Karen Redrobe, Professor, History of Art

  176. Emily Regier, PhD Candidate, Political Science

  177. Alejandra Regla-Vargas, PhD Student, Sociology

  178. Elizabeth Rhoades, Professor, Chemistry

  179. Nat Rivkin, PhD Student, English

  180. Nancy Roane, PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature

  181. Megan Robb, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies

  182. Brett Robert, PhD Student, History

  183. Cara Rogers, Administrative and Events Coordinator, Libraries Advancement

  184. Shantee Rosado, GSAS Alum, Sociology

  185. Atenea Rosado-Viurques, Joint PhD Student, Anthropology & Education

  186. Marlen Rosas, PhD Candidate, History

  187. Wendy D. Roth, Associate Professor, Sociology

  188. Angelina Ruffin, PhD Student, Social Welfare

  189. Megan Ryerson, UPS Chair of Transportation, Associate Professor, City and Regional Planning/Weitzman, Electrical and Systems Engineering/SEAS

  190. Rashi Sabherwal, PhD Student, Political Science

  191. Paul K. Saint-Amour, Professor, English

  192. Gabriel Salgado, PhD Candidate, Political Science

  193. Melissa E. Sanchez, Donald T. Regan Professor of English

  194. Utpal Sandesara, PhD Alum, Anthropology

  195. Adam Sax, PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature and Literary Theory

  196. Rachael Schechter, staff, Fisher Fine Arts Library

  197. Raka Sen, PhD Student, Sociology

  198. Michael Martin Shea, PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature and Literary Theory

  199. Jess Shollenberger, PhD Candidate, English

  200. Maja Sidzińska, PhD student, Philosophy

  201. Troels Skadhauge, PhD Candidate, Political Science

  202. Miranda Sklaroff, PhD Student, Political Science

  203. Zachary Smith, PhD Candidate, Political Science

  204. Eva Del Soldato, Associate Professor, Romance Languages

  205. Emily Steinlight, Associate Professor, English

  206. Helen Stuhr-Rommereim, PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature and Literary Theory

  207. Mary Summers, Senior Fellow, Fox Leadership Program; Lecturer, Political Science

  208. Jeanna Sybert, PhD Student, Annenberg School for Communication

  209. Genevieve Tan, PhD Student, History 

  210. Martine Tchitchihe, Comparative Literature

  211. Dawn Teele, Associate Professor of Political Science

  212. Jorge Tellez, Assistant Professor of Romance Languages

  213. Deborah A. Thomas, R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology

  214. Jolyon Thomas, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

  215. Evelyn Thomson, Associate Professor, Physics & Astronomy

  216. Julia Ticona, Assistant Professor of Communication

  217. Patrina Sexton Topper, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Nursing

  218. Carolyn J. Trench, Lecturer, Critical Writing Program

  219. Kimberly Trout, Assistant Professor of Women’s Health, School of Nursing

  220. Catherine Turner, Senior Associate Director, Center for Teaching and Learning

  221. Catalina Udani, PhD Student, Political Science

  222. Roopa Vasudevan, PhD Student, Annenberg School for Communication

  223. Robert Vitalis, Professor, Political Science

  224. Heidi Voskuhl, Associate Professor, History and Sociology of Science

  225. Lexi Voss, Staff Member, Penn Libraries 

  226. Kathryn Watterson, Lecturer, Creative Writing Program

  227. Anna Weesner, Weiss Professor of Music

  228. Alex Weisiger, Associate Professor/DGS, Political Science

  229. Steven Weitzman, Professor, Religious Studies and Jewish Studies

  230. Stephanie Wesson, PhD student, Philosophy

  231. Hilary Whitham Sánchez, PhD Candidate, History of Art

  232. Melissa Wilde, Professor, Sociology

  233. Emily Wilson, Professor, Classical Studies/Comparative Literature

  234. Yin Ling Irene Wong, Professor, School of Social Policy & Practice

  235. Dagmawi Woubshet, Associate Professor of English

  236. Reut Yarnitsky, PhD Candidate, Weitzman School of Design

  237. Youngbin Yoon, PhD student, Philosophy

  238. Haoxin Zeng, Masters Student, Master of Liberal Arts

  239. Naomi Zucker, PhD Candidate, Anthropology