Alumni Weekend highlights tradition, learning and fun

During Alumni Weekend 2011, scheduled for May 13 to 16, Penn will welcome back former students from a few years ago, a few decades ago and even more than half a century ago.
Following Penn tradition, the weekend will include a parade led by the Old Guard, lots of class reunions, free campus tours and a full slate of cultural events featuring everything from poetry slams to jazz jams. The celebration will culminate with Commencement of the Class of 2011.

On Friday, May 13, the weekend begins with a full day of seminars on topics that range from successful aging and wise estate planning to how the recent financial crisis has effected Wall Street and issues of equity and access facing the field of global health.

There will be an all-day open house at WXPN, Penn’s public radio station from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a free concert at noon. From 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., alumni can take a tour of campus led by a current Penn student to see what has changed, and what hasn’t, over the years. Later in the afternoon, Penn Law will host “Classes without Quizzes,” and from 4 to 6:30 p.m., alumni can join in a gallery hop, taking in exhibits and expert commentary at the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Kroiz Gallery of the Architectural Archives and the Institute of Contemporary Art.

On Friday evening, alumni are invited to cut loose at Franklin Fest in Houston Hall, an all-alumni party with games, dancing, food and drink that has become a Penn tradition. The party will include a wine showcase hosted by the Class of 1966, and jazz performer MJ Territo, from the Class of 1971, will sing selections from her album, “Down With Love.” Off campus from 8 to 10 p.m., PennGALA will host a LGBTQ alumni party at Stir Lounge, 1705 Chancellor St., near Rittenhouse Square.

Saturday events begin at 8 a.m. with the Quaker Trot Alumni Run/Walk, an untimed and non-competitive 1.5-mile run around campus. Participants will start and finish at the “Split Button.” The morning schedule is full of educational talks and seminars focusing on everything from national housing policy to the effectiveness of abstinence education, environmental sustainability and minimally invasive surgery for pets.

At 10:30 a.m., at the Dhirubhai Ambani Auditorium in Huntsman Hall, Penn President Amy Gutmann will host a conversation addressing the state of the University and its vision for the future. There will be an opportunity for alumni to ask questions. Because seating is limited, there will be a simulcast of the address available for an overflow audience.

The traditional Parade of Classes will begin at noon on Locust Walk. All classes, from oldest to youngest, are welcome to march behind their class flag. After the parade, visitors are invited to Alumni Day picnics on College Green and Hill Square. The rest of the afternoon is filled with cultural and educational events, including a 4 p.m. reading at Kelly Writers House by novelist Jennifer Egan, a 1985 College grad, who was recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She will share the podium with poet Sam Donsky, a second-year student at Penn Law.

On Sunday, both early and late risers can attend a pancake breakfast in Houston Hall that runs from 9:30 a.m. until noon. Other events include a tour of Penn’s rare Judaica book collection organized by the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies from 10 to 11:30 a.m., various luncheons and a 4:30 p.m. reading at the Penn Bookstore by this year’s Baccalaureate speaker, the Rev. James Martin, author of “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life.”

To register for Alumni Weekend, get details on class reunions and find a complete schedule of events, visit

Alumni Weekend