What does Alumni Weekend at Penn mean to you?
Maybe it’s a window into the University’s ever-evolving academic atmosphere; maybe it’s a rush of nostalgia as you pass by College Hall or Franklin Field—buildings that feel as familiar as old friends. Or, maybe distance from campus has kept you from enjoying this annual tradition in the past.
This year, members of the Penn community came together on Saturday, May 16, to reconnect online for Virtual Alumni Weekend. At a time when staying connected is more important than ever, this year’s program offered exciting and engaging experiences that Penn alumni enjoyed from around the world.
“We have developed content to help alumni reflect, rebound, engage and reminisce with fellow members of our amazing Penn community,” said Ann Reese, CW’74, President of Penn Alumni, in advance of the weekend’s events. “Rather than regret our inability to meet on campus this spring, I am hoping we can reframe the narrative to demonstrate how we can be together while needing to stay apart. Penn Alumni are 300,000 strong. Let’s make Virtual Alumni weekend our largest gathering ever!”
Program highlights for the day included:
- A welcome and reflections from University Chaplain Rev. Charles L. Howard, C’00.
- An inspiring talk by Angela Duckworth, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology, exploring “Grit and the COVID-19 Pandemic”—in which she offers lessons of strength and resilience in the face of obstacles, and engages with audience members through a Q&A.
- A discussion on how Penn and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships are stepping up as leaders in civic and community engagement during the COVID-19 crisis—with Ira Harkavy, Netter Center Associate Vice President and Founding Director, and Rita Axelroth Hodges, C’05, GED’15, Assistant Director.
A virtual parade along Locust Walk and a toast to Dear Old Penn recreated some of Alumni Weekend’s proudest traditions. For those who were unable to attend live, or those who wish to watch again, videos of both events are available online.
While reunions for the 0 and 5 classes will be held May 22-23, 2021, we did not want the occasion of Alumni Weekend to go by without offering a virtual celebration where we can learn, connect and all come together as the Penn Alumni Family”F. Hoopes Wampler, Ed.D., GrEd’13, Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations
In addition to these timed events, another Alumni Weekend mainstay moved online for virtual attendees to enjoy on their own schedule. “Architectural Masterpieces at the University of Pennsylvania” presents a virtual walking tour of Penn’s campus through a series of videos recorded during Alumni Weekend 2019. Join David Brownlee, Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor of 19th Century European Art, as he tells the stories behind some of Penn’s most recognizable and memorable buildings. The full series of six tour videos are available here. Watch the first video in the series below.
Even after the fact, these virtual events represent an opportunity to reconnect with Penn and its community, scholarship, and aspirations for the future. While we are looking forward to meeting again in person, this online gathering for our Penn family came at a moment when staying in touch has never mattered more.