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The virtual Alumni Weekend celebration included a virtual parade down Locust Walk.

Credit: Son Nguyen

Alumni Weekend took place virtually on May 16, ahead of a postponed on-campus reunion that will be scheduled for a later date deemed safe by the University.

Graduating classes ending in 0s and 5s celebrated virtual Alumni Weekend on Saturday through Zoom and Facebook Live, watching featured University faculty discuss issues of the coronavirus pandemic, a virtual parade down Locust Walk, and musical performances.

Alumni Weekend was scheduled to take place on campus during the weekend of May 15 to May 18, but the in-person celebration was postponed due to coronavirus concerns and physical distancing measures.

In a March 16 email sent to the Penn community, Penn President Amy Gutmann said the University could not responsibly gather thousands of people to campus for Alumni Weekend and Commencement, according to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health experts. 

Virtual Alumni Weekend events included a welcome message from University Chaplain Reverend Charles Howard, followed by a question-and-answer discussion with Psychology professor Angela Duckworth, who spoke about finding grit throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The event also included a conversation about higher education’s response to the pandemic, hosted by Associate Vice President of the Netter Center Ira Harkavy. 

Alumni also watched videos of Alumni Weekend traditions, such as a “Parade of Classes” down Locust Walk, and performances of “The Red and Blue” and “Drink a Highball” by current and former students. 

Penn Alumni Relations is processing full refunds for graduates who already registered for Alumni Weekend, according to a message posted on the Penn Alumni website.

The University is committed to holding on-campus celebrations for the 2020 Alumni Weekend, as well as the Class of 2020 Commencement when it is "safe and feasible to do so," Gutmann announced in an email sent to undergraduates on March 17. 

After postponing the in-person commencement ceremony to May 2021, a virtual commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 took place on May 18. 

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