In Memoriam: Administrative Coordinator Silvia Pierini Dunn

Silvia Pierini Dunn, an administrative coordinator in the department of religious studies, died on November 15 after a long battle with lung cancer. She was 51. 

Born in Rome, Italy, Ms. Dunn worked in the early 1990s at the Vatican Museums, a position that enabled her to travel widely. In 1996, she and her husband Rick moved to Philadelphia, where they started a family. The bilingual Ms. Dunn spent the early 2000s working as a freelance translator and language tutor, primarily working with families with disabled children that came from Italy for therapy.

In 2002, she became a part-time Italian instructor at Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ. She joined Penn’s department of Student Registration and Financial Services (SRFS) in 2014 as an administrative coordinator. Four years later, Ms. Dunn moved to Penn’s department of Religious Studies, also as an administrative coordinator. 

“Working with Silvia was a pleasure,” recalls her colleague Emily Romanello, academic coordinator in Penn’s department of economics. “She brightened the day. I will never forget our bilingual phone conversations—it turned ordinary room reservation requests into something special.” 

“Silvia was an integral part of our department”, says interim chair Anthea Butler, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies. “She was loved by students and faculty alike, and she was always ready to help us with anything. Silvia was a ray of sunshine for us each day, and our days are less bright without her.”

Ms. Dunn is survived by her husband Rick; her children, Elzo and Giulia; her mother, Adriana Marcucci; and her sisters, Paola and Carla. A memorial will be arranged at a later date; leave a message for Ms. Dunn’s family at