Penn renamed several campus buildings. Previously known as New College House, Lauder College House was renamed in September following a contribution from Wharton graduates and frequent University donors Ronald and William Lauder.
The University faced backlash from law students in November after its announcement that the University of Pennsylvania Law School would be renamed the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School following a $125 million donation. Hundreds of students and alumni signed a petition calling for the shortened name to remain Penn Law instead of Carey Law, arguing that the prestige of the Penn Law name is important to their careers. The University kept the full title as The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, but changed the shortened name back to Penn Law.
Penn students took an active role campaigning ahead of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Two student groups, Penn for Bernie and Penn for Biden, traveled to New Hampshire in February ahead of the first-in-the-nation primary to canvas for their respective candidates.
Several candidates in the primary had notable connections to Penn. Former Presidential Professor of Practice and President Joe Biden became the nominee after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) dropped out in April. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who dropped out of the race in March, taught at Penn Law from 1987 to 1995. After Biden secured the nomination in the spring of 2020, the general election featured two candidates with ties to Penn, as he would face off against, and ultimately defeat, 1968 Wharton graduate and then-incumbent President Donald Trump.
In March of 2020, Penn evacuated campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The University extended spring break for one week and nearly all students were required to leave campus and complete coursework online.
The COVID-19 pandemic also led Penn to cancel or modify second-semester traditions. Commencement for the Class of 2020 was held virtually with the promise of a future in-person ceremony. Hey Day, when juniors are officially pronounced seniors, was also held virtually for the Class of 2021. In early March, Penn canceled Quaker Days for admitted students to visit campus. The Penn Relays were also canceled for the first time since 1895.
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