Last year we referred to Alumni Weekend 2020 as the “first (and, let’s hope, one of a kind)” virtual version. It didn’t quite work out that way, even as the waning of the pandemic in the US in the spring promised a return to something like normal over the summer. But the classes that were celebrating significant reunions in 2020 and 2021, along with other groups, put together a varied slate of panels and presentations to mark the occasion.
Several sessions drew comparisons and contrasts between the current pivotal moment in history sparked by the pandemic and movements for racial and social justice and the turbulence of the 1960s era. In one, members of the Classes of 1970 and 2020 shared memories of their respective unique Commencements, which in 1970 featured an anti-war protest and mass walkout and in 2020, well, you know. (That one did turn out to be one of a kind, as the Class of 2021—if not their friends and families—were able to return to Franklin Field for a limited in-person ceremony [“Gazetteer,” this issue].) Others focused on “The Healing Power of Nearby Nature,” “Health Care After the Pandemic,” advancing the national dialogue on first-generation college students, Penn’s “Year of Civic Engagement” in 2020–2021, and tours of the University’s architectural treasures past and present. And more.
Many of the sessions, as well as a crowdsourced photo album of Alumni Weekends past, can be accessed at www.alumni.upenn.edu from “anywhere and everywhere.” —JP