NEW YORK — The news that Comcast Senior Vice President David L. Cohen will be stepping back from some of his many duties after almost two decades at the cable giant was all the chatter this weekend at the Pennsylvania Society political retreat in Manhattan.

University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann made what appeared to be the most prominent reference to the news Saturday morning, cracking a joke while Cohen, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, stood next to her.

Speaking at the university’s always-packed breakfast at The Penn Club of New York — perhaps the most high-powered event of the weekend — Gutmann suggested the crowd would have to have “been living in some other universe” to not have heard that Cohen will ”dial back” his duties over the next year. Cohen, a prominent player in local and national politics, is renowned for his work ethic.

“I actually took the liberty of asking our great Penn and Wharton economists: What would it mean for David Cohen to dial back 10%?,” Gutmann told the crowd, drawing laughter. “The answer came back quite quickly that the conservative estimate is that Comcast now has to hire 50 new people.”

Cohen, who laughed along, will remain chairman of Penn’s board.

“Let me just say, if I can get 90% of David L. Cohen, I’ll take it over anybody,” Gutmann said.

Gutmann is this year’s Pennsylvania Society gold medalist.

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