The world ebbed and flowed with its fair share of monumental events in 2021. Riding alongside the waves, the Penn community was no exception.

Mimicking their pre-pandemic lives in post-pandemic ways, Penn community members returned to campus, got vaccinated, and attended classes in person. In the meantime, Hurricane Ida halted classes, the Class of 2021 graduated with a socially distanced ceremony, and the Omicron variant loomed like a new shadow, serving as constant reminders that Penn is never disconnected from the challenges of the world.

The Daily Pennsylvanian’s photographers documented the stories of 2021, at Penn and beyond, as they marked history in their stride. These 12 images serve as bookmarks for yet another year that we will not forget.

Credit: Max Mester


Jan. 1 — Four Mummers strut through South Philadelphia, beers in hand, on Jan. 1. While the city’s official New Year’s Day Mummers Parade was canceled this year because of the pandemic, some Mummers and residents still marched down 2nd Street to protest Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and celebrate the beginning of 2021.

Credit: Max Mester

Jan. 11 — A family helped move their student into the Lower Quad. The spring move-in period was the first time the University welcomed students back to live on campus since campus closed in March 2020.

Credit: Kylie Cooper


Feb. 15 — In an email, Penn announced that beginning with the Class of 2024, all students will be required to remain on a dining plan for their first two years at Penn as part of Penn’s Second-Year Experience program.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Feb. 19 — A Philadelphia resident received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium’s 24-hour clinic at Temple University’s Liacouras Center on Feb. 19.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur


March 17 — More than 100 Philadelphians, including City Councilmember Helen Gym (above) gathered in Chinatown for a vigil on March 17 to remember the victims of the fatal Atlanta spa shootings that targeted Asian Americans the day before.

Credit: Chase Sutton

March 27 — The men's track and field team watched from empty stands in Franklin Field as the women’s team competed in the 1500m during the Penn Challenge meet on March 27. Fans, spectators, and media were not allowed to attend any sports competitions for the spring season.

Credit: Chase Sutton

April 21 — 2021 College graduate Laura Beck received a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Penn’s vaccine clinic in Gimbel Gymnasium.

Credit: Max Mester

April 28 — Penn community members and West Philadelphians marched down Spruce Street during a protest demanding the immediate return of the MOVE bombing victims’ remains from the Penn Museum.

Credit: Chase Sutton

May 11 — Penn President Amy Gutmann announced that Penn Provost Wendell Pritchett will take a leave of absence from the University through the end of the fall semester due to a health issue. In an email to the community on Dec. 9, Gutmann wrote that Pritchett will return to the University in spring 2022.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

May 17 — College graduate Eva Spier wore a specially made mask for the Class of 2021 while exiting Franklin Field after the commencement ceremony. Family and friends were not allowed to attend the ceremony in person this year.

Credit: Max Mester

June 11 — Penn announced that fully vaccinated community members were no longer required to wear a mask on campus in nearly all circumstances. This policy was later reversed in August.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

June 24 — In an email, Penn announced its decision to conduct the fall 2021 semester as a fully in-person, on-campus experience.

Credit: Max Mester

July 2 — The White House announced in a press release that President Joe Biden would nominate Penn President Amy Gutmann as United States ambassador to Germany.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

July 4 — Two weeks after having 70% of its adults receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Philadelphia celebrated Independence Day throughout the city maskless and in person, marking a major milestone in the return to normalcy.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Aug. 14 — New College House West, after facing minimal delays due to COVID-19 and costing a record-shattering $169.5 million, opened in August and welcomed its first residents.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Aug. 24 — Between Aug. 23 and Aug. 29, nearly 6,000 students moved into campus housing, with many arriving on campus for the first time. 

Credit: Max Mester

Sept. 2 — Penn suspended classes for a day as the remnants of Hurricane Ida brought severe flooding to Philadelphia, shutting down major roadways and causing the Schuylkill River to overflow.

Credit: Jesse Zhang

Sept. 28 — Students protested outside of Psi Upsilon’s chapter house in response to an assault at one of the fraternity’s parties earlier in the month, when a Penn sophomore sustained serious injuries after being attacked by a fraternity brother.

Credit: Samantha Turner

Oct. 13 — Students lifted their canes while singing “The Red and Blue” after President Amy Gutmann officially declared them seniors. Hey Day took place for the Class of 2022 after a six-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Oct. 26 — After five years of construction, costing $1.6 billion, Penn Medicine opened the Pavilion, its new 1.5 million-square foot, 17-story facility.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Nov. 6 — Penn football played against the Cornell Big Red on Homecoming Day. Although sustaining a loss of 15-12, thousands of Penn alumni, families, and community members returned to campus after last year’s in-person Homecoming events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Nov. 16 — Penn men’s basketball, in its first home game in nearly two years at the Palestra, dominated the Lafayette Leopards with an 85-57 victory. Junior center Max Lorca-Lloyd, pictured above, matched his career high with six points and also had six rebounds.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Dec. 3 — First Lady Jill Biden met a family in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia’s Karabots Pediatric Care Center during an event encouraging parents to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 and get booster shots.

Credit: Max Mester

Dec. 8 — In an email sent to executive board members of Greek organizations, Penn required student groups to cancel all social events including parties, formals, and other spaces where alcohol, food, and dancing are present.

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.