Convocation welcomes Class of 2017
The event took place in the Palestra, instead of College Green
August 27, 2013, 9:56 pm · Updated August 27, 2013, 10:39 pm·
Luke Chen | DP
Penn has long celebrated freedom — and on the eve of the 50-year anniversary of the March on Washington, the opening convocation celebrated freedom as well.
Convocation welcomed the Class of 2017 and transfer students in the Palestra Tuesday night. Although the location deviated from the planned location on College Green — like in the past two years — the ceremony’s other traditions of speakers and musical performances remained.
Chaz Howard, the University Chaplain, encouraged the new students to exercise their freedoms, noting that 50 years prior in Washington, nothing was “uttered, yelled or sung” more than the word freedom. He emphasized that students should “live with the kind of freedom that produces brilliance.”
Musical performances by the Penn Sirens and the Glee Club were interspersed throughout the ceremony. Glee charmed the crowd with their songs, and the Sirens pleased the crowd as well.
The evening continued with its emphasis on freedom, with Provost Vincent Price reiterating the opportunities Penn offered. He told students to appreciate their freedom to choose their paths, and later joked “we’re not monitoring your every move — we’re not the NSA.”
Penn President Amy Gutmann spoke to the new class about the value of practical knowledge, describing the school’s founder, Benjamin Franklin, as a model for this type of knowledge. She also spoke of the new class’ demographics. Students from 48 states and 72 countries are represented, with 12 percent being first generation college students.
New students, like College freshman Ray McCormack said that the ceremony symbolically started a new chapter of his life.
Others said they felt like they were a part of the Penn community long before the ceremony.
“I’ve already had my welcome to Penn. This was just the icing on the cake,” said Nicole Banks, a College freshman.
“It inaugurates everything,” College freshman Richu Raju said.