Editor’s note: accessed online at https://penncurrent.upenn.edu/news/silfen-forum-to-address-global-refugee-crisis.

By Lauren Hertzler

January 25th, 2018


A distinguished panel of experts, including Joe Biden, Jeb Bush, Michael Doyle, Dau Jok, and Anne Richard, will join President Amy Gutmann for a discussion at Penn about asylum seekers, refugees, and immigration policy.

 Since its inception, the David and Lyn Silfen University Forum has aimed to take on important contemporary issues. It has fostered conversations—as well as debates—on varying topics, including the economic downturn, the future of higher education, and cancer, a disease that touches so many.

As the world witnesses its highest levels of displacement on record, this year’s focus is “People and Policy Adrift: A 21st Century Framework for Asylum Seekers, Refugees, and Immigration Policy.”

Slated to take place on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 3 p.m. in Irvine Auditorium, the talk, moderated by Penn President Amy Gutmann, will feature a distinguished panel of speakers including Joe Biden, the 47th U.S. vice president, the University’s very own Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor, and the driving force behind the new Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement; Jeb Bush, the 43rd governor of Florida; Michael Doyle, a professor at Columbia University and director of the Columbia Global Policy Initiative; Dau Jok, a Pennalumnus and founder of the Dut Jok Youth Foundation, named after his father; and Anne Richard, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration.

There’s no better time than the present for the discussion, as political debate around the topic floods news cycles, and recent United Nations reports show an extraordinary 65.6 million people around the world currently displaced from their homes. Often fleeing conflict, religious persecution, and extreme poverty, among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees—half of whom are under the age of 18. Combining their diverse experiences and knowledge, the panelists will address ideas for new approaches to the global refugee crisis, and tackle questions that touch on challenging and dynamic policy decisions.

Tickets to the Forum became available for the Penn community on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Can’t make it? Make sure to tune into a live webcast that will be available online.

David and Lyn Silfen have been among Penn’s most generous supporters. In addition to the Silfen University Forum, they’ve funded two Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professorships, the Silfen Student Study Center, a term professorship, and the David and Lyn Silfen Fund to support educational innovation in the School of Arts and Sciences.

David Silfen, who graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1966, was a Penn Trustee from 1998 until his passing in 2015. The chairman of Mayfair Management/Silfen Investment Partners LP, and a senior director of The Goldman Sachs Group, he was vice chair of Penn’s Trustees, and served on its executive, budget and finance, nominating, and development committees. He also was a member of the Penn Investment Board, and served as chair for the Board of Overseers of the School of Arts and Sciences.