English department administrators at the University of Pennsylvania will meet in January to choose a new location for the large portrait of William Shakespeare that students replaced this week with a photograph of Audre Lorde, a black writer who died in 1992.

Steven J. Fluharty, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, said in a statement Tuesday that the portrait had hung for years on the Heyer Staircase at Fisher-Bennett Hall. The English Department voted a few years ago to replace the portrait, but had yet to do so.

On Monday, some students became impatient for the change and "moved the Shakespeare portrait and replaced it with a temporary portrait of their own," Fluharty said.
"It was not meant to be permanent, and no harm came to William’s visage," he wrote.

The portrait was left in the office of Jed Etsy, an English professor and the department chairman. It was first reported by The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university's student-run news outlet.

Fluharty added that Shakespeare "remains a major figure to be studied and appreciated in the Penn English department."

"He is not leaving; he is merely relocating," he added. "A meeting is scheduled for January to determine a new location in the building for the Shakespeare portrait and to decide on an appropriate set of images for the main entryway of the building."

Born in Harlem in 1934, Lorde was the daughter of Caribbean immigrants.

She described herself as "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," and her writing confronted racism, sexism, and homophobia, according to the Poetry Foundation.

On social media, portrait-gate caused an outpouring of opinions and emotional responses.

Zachary Lesser, a Penn English professor who specializes in Shakespeare's works, took to Twitter to pose a request of the angry masses.

And — as has become customary since the Nov. 8 presidential election — the controversy eventually circled back to President-elect Donald Trump.