PAACH director suddenly leaves Penn after 10 years in the role

Former director of the Pan-Asian American Community House Peter Van Do.

The director of the Pan-Asian American Community House suddenly left the University with no current plans announced to replace him.

Jeffrey Yu, a college senior and president of the Asia-Pacific Student Coalition, wrote in an email to PAACH student leaders that Peter Van Do, PAACH’s former director for 10 years, is “no longer employed at Penn”. Yu told The Daily Pennsylvanian on Thursday that no further information was provided to him about Van Do’s departure from University Life. Van Do has yet to respond to multiple requests for comment.

In response to a request for comment, University spokesperson Ron Ozio directed the DP to Executive Director of University Life Strategic Initiatives Mike Elias. Elias did not respond to an immediate request for comment.

Yu said he was informed of Van Do’s departure on Tuesday by Associate Vice Provost for University Life Will Atkins, and added that he was cleared to share the news with APSC voters on Wednesday.

APSC is in communication with Atkins to “raise the voices of students” and their concerns, according to Yu. He wrote that APSC’s current top priority is to provide support to student groups who were previously supported by Van Do following the vacancy of the post of director.

Cindy Au-Kramer, PAACH’s finance, operations and programs coordinator, also answers questions about PAACH’s upcoming programs and events, according to an automated email response from Van Do. Yu said Au-Kramer had “stepped up” to support student groups who previously worked with Van Do.

PAACH, which opened in November 2000, supports more than a dozen API student groups on campus, providing funding, mentorship, and work-study opportunities for Asian and Pacific Islander students at Penn. Van Do joined PAACH as a Director in July 2012, from Cornell University – where he served as Deputy Principal and Program Director for Community Center Programs in the Office of Student Activities.

Yu told the DP that many groups and student leaders supported by PAACH and Van Do have approached him and expressed their frustration and sadness over Van Do’s departure.

“I think a lot of people are in shock. It’s not something people saw coming at all,” Yu said. “Peter was such a public figure for PAACH and the wider AAPI community at Penn.”

Yu said APSC’s second priority is to fill the position of PAACH director as soon as possible. Currently, a search is underway for an Associate Director of PAACH — a position that has been vacant for more than three years — but Yu wrote that this process may be interrupted by university life. There is currently no timeline for when the director position will be filled, according to the email.

Yu added that Atkins had promised that the APSC would be able to provide information during the search process for a new PAACH director.

“It was a pretty big shock to Penn’s API community, so I think a lot of people are still trying to navigate it and find a clear path,” Yu said. “With a lot of visions and dreams of APSC and the rest of 7B and the cultural resource centers that are starting to come to fruition, this seems like a big step backwards.”

Senior reporter Jared Mitovich contributed reporting for this article.

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