Gail Oberton, VPUL

caption: Gail ObertonGail Oberton, director of the Provost’s Summer Mentorship Program at Penn, died on May 29 from breast cancer. She was 59.

Ms. Oberton joined the staff at Penn in 2000 as an administrative assistant in the Division of the Vice Provost for University Life (VPUL). In 2003, she took a position as the office manager for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), then became executive assistant for VPUL’s Equity and Access Programs. From 2008 until her passing in May, she served as director of the Provost’s Summer Mentorship Program (SMP) in VPUL.

According to William Gipson, associate vice provost for Equity and Access, “Her role as director of SMP will be her legacy. She took over the lead of a program that was in its infancy, having begun in 2006, and grew it into a highly sought after college preparatory program for Philadelphia public and charter high school students. Gail was a critical player in adding a year-round component to the program, which emphasized STEM. Further, she developed strong buy-in with key leaders in the five Penn partner schools—PSOM, Dental, Law, Engineering and Nursing—as well as with high school principals and counselors throughout the city. Her leadership embodied one of the best examples of the Inclusion aspect of the Penn Compact 2020. Most important, however, is the fact that over 400 alumni have matriculated at a wide variety of colleges and universities, including Penn, and many are now in masters’ programs.”

Ms. Oberton is survived by her siblings: Kathryn Bazemore (Weldon), Eugene Keenan Jr. (Cornelia), Betty Summerville (Howard), Milton Keenan (Dorothy), and Debra Keenan-Allison (Roberto); her children, Candace M. Braddock and Nicholas K. Oberton, Sr.; grandchildren, Collin Timberlake, and Nalani and Nicholas K. Oberton, Jr.

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