Reconnecting on Penn’s campus

This year’s Alumni Weekend included panels, parades, parties, and so much more.

alumni hold Penn '99 signs and umbrella for Alumni Parade
Saturday’s Alumni Parade brought to Locust Walk—even in the rain—more than 1,000 guests from all reunion years.

Back for Alumni Weekend on Friday, and coming from an organized sculpture tour led by Director of the Penn Art Collection Lynn Smith Dolby, Ned Weiser, a 1982 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, said, “The Penn campus is my happy place.”

Weiser, who normally attends the weekend of celebrations each year, said he looked forward to reconnecting with friends and attending a range of events. Earlier, he’d listened in on a talk at Houston Hall on the transformation of health care delivery. While chatting, he was off to a “then and now” campus discussion, hosted by his wife’s undergraduate class. He said he enjoys attending events that “take you out of your own world and allow you to see things through other people’s eyes.”

Michael M. Liu, a Wharton Class of 1989 graduate, who also attended the sculpture tour, said he was looking forward to Saturday’s Alumni Parade of Classes. It’s his 35th reunion, “a big one,” he said.

“A lot of our friends are coming,” Liu added, nodding to his wife, also a Penn alum (they met during their first year at Penn). “We’ll probably go to Chinatown for dinner, or something like that. A great thing is that a lot of our friends graduated from here and still live around. When we come, we always have a place to stay.”

Another perk? “Our twins are students here. We just had lunch with them, even though they are trying to hide from us,” he joked.

From a President’s Engagement Prize Winner 10-Year Showcase, to the beloved Alumni Parade, which brought to Locust Walk—even in the rain—more than 1,000 guests from all reunion years, including some celebrating their 75th, to the Penn Spectrum Spectacular, a carnival-inspired party on Saturday night, it was a weekend full of reminiscing and reflecting. Academic symposiums at Irvine Auditorium spanned the gamut, with two, sponsored by the Class of 1974 along with Penn Arts & Culture and Penn Alumni Lifelong Learning, featuring scholars including Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Associate Professor in Penn’s Department of the History of Art, and Ethan Mollick, the Ralph J. Roberts Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Academic Director of Wharton Interactive.  DuBois Shaw delivered a lecture on “Albert C. Barnes: Collector and Iconoclast,” discussing Barnes’ iconic collection and its ongoing mission, and Mollick explored the implications of artificial intelligence for work, education, and life.

An Alumni Weekend tradition, on Saturday morning Interim President J. Larry Jameson delivered a nearly hourlong “Penn Update,” reflecting on student-, faculty-, and alumni-related topics. To a filled Zellerbach Theatre inside the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, he opened: “The best thing about the University of Pennsylvania are the people that we graduate who go off in the world and use their knowledge and their skills to make the world better. I find it very heartening to reconnect with this group.”

Jameson described Penn’s “incredible momentum,” and provided details on everything from the institution’s strategic framework In Principle and Practice to the inspiring technology transfer happening at the University, to new buildings and initiatives that help Penn continue to flourish. In closing, Jameson said, “Penn leads, and it’s thanks to you.”

As events wound down on Sunday, alumni were invited to a special breakfast, memorial services, and even an Alexis Jones Spades Tournament, co-sponsored by the Classes of 1989 and 1994. At W.E.B. Du Bois College House, participants and spectators enjoyed fun and competitive card play, capping off a weekend filled with engagement and nostalgia.

Images courtesy of Penn Alumni.