(Virtual) Convocation 2020

Read, (Virtual) Convocation 2020

(Virtual) Convocation 2020

Last night, President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett officially opened the 2020-2021 academic year by hosting an online convocation ceremony. You can watch the video of the ceremony here. I delivered these remarks, filmed from our Admissions Visit Center on campus, to the incoming class of 2024 and new transfer students. We wish all students the best of luck with the beginning of the academic term in this unusual and challenging year.


Class of 2024 and incoming transfer students, as your dean of admissions, I am most proud to welcome you into the Penn community on behalf of the entire team in Penn Admissions and our academic and university life colleagues across campus. You engaged with the broader Penn community and with each other through virtual Quaker Days events and have continued to build bonds through pre-orientation and New Student Orientation. This evening you are ready to take the next steps to truly thrive at Penn.

Your individual voices resonated through your own essays, supportive letters from your teachers and counselors, and through your conversations with volunteers of the Penn Alumni Interview Program. And yes, you achieved at the highest levels in the classroom and in the broader communities in your own cities and towns around the globe. In fact, 83% of the admitted class engaged in civic and community outreach while attending secondary school. The highest single form of co- or extra-curricular participation and leadership, by far.

The desire and ability to find one’s voice and to purposefully reach beyond yourself to help others are great qualities to possess. But that is only the start.  Now we need this collection of 2,500 voices to truly learn from one another, by challenging some of your own assumptions, to hear another point of view, to find understanding out of disagreement. I challenge all of you to think critically and to strengthen the experience of the entire Penn and Philadelphia communities which you will now call home.

Dr. Gutmann, twelve years ago I first handed over a Penn Relays baton into your caring hands, and this evening, I pass over to you the class of 2024 and transfer students on the eve of a new academic year.

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