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Convocation 2010
September 14, 2010, Volume 57, No. 03

Below are the remarks given by Lee Spelman Doty.

A Lifelong Connection to the Red & Blue

On behalf of the more than 250,000 Penn alumni located all across the globe, I extend a warm welcome to each of you! We congratulate you on all you have already accomplished to earn a place in this amazing class of 2014 and we look forward with eager anticipation to what you will achieve in the years ahead. Whether you are in Nursing, Engineering, Wharton or the College, you will be following awesome footsteps. Penn alumni are leaders in every field, from Nobel laureates to the inventor of the cheese doodle! And, Abdi Farah class of ’09 was just named “America’s next great artist.”  If you want to have some fun, look up Penn Alumni on Wikipedia...you will be amazed at the long list of Penn graduates who have achieved eminence in their fields... and someday we expect you to be among them.

As the president of Penn Alumni, I have the privilege on Ivy Day of presenting graduating seniors with student alumni awards. These awards are given to students who have made the most impact on Penn and the community during their undergraduate years. One of this past year’s seniors, upon receiving his award, noted that when he arrived on campus as a freshman, he had a choice, he could be a renter or an owner. He went on to comment that no one ever bothered to wash a rental car! His point was simply that he made the decision to “own” Penn, to make it his and to feel that sense of shared responsibility. I would encourage you to do the same. Take advantage of all that Penn has to offer, on campus and off. Take classes in subjects you have not been exposed to before. Partake in extracurricular activities... if you don’t see what you want, start it! If you find something you can make better, do it! Go to Franklin Field and the Palestra...throw toast at football games and cheer our teams, all of them! And remember...your connection to Penn is not just the 4 years you will spend in West Philadelphia. It is very possible that the person sitting next to you tonight or in class tomorrow could be someone you will know for the rest of your life. I still have lunch with my Hill suitemates every month decades after we graduated! Long after your formal education ends, Penn will remain the center of your intellectual life. You will bleed red & blue!

Founded by Ben Franklin in 1740, Penn is a place steeped in tradition. One of the deepest held of these traditions is the commitment of Penn alumni to their alma mater. They are truly the foundation of this great university... and I mean that literally! In buildings and walkways all over campus you will notice Ivy stones, pieces of bedrock inscribed with a class year. You will place your own ivy stone on campus when you graduate, as hundreds of classes have done before you, a small physical token of your presence here. But the impact of our alumni is so much greater than bricks and mortar.

Penn Alumni are passionate about their University. We love hearing that this is the best class ever to have entered these halls. The reputation Penn enjoys today, under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Gutmann, would not be possible without the tireless commitment of our alumni who give so generously of their time and resources.

Our alumni love to come back to campus and share their insights with students. Penn alumni are a great source for career advice; when the time comes, take advantage of this tremendous network. Penn alumni support our athletic teams and cultural institutions, attending events with great enthusiasm.

Often inspired by the aid they themselves may have received as students, Penn alumni have provided thousands of scholarships to make sure that the most talented students can attend Penn. Alumni have endowed professorships ensuring our ability to attract the best faculty in the world to this campus. It is a virtuous circle... the best students want the best faculty and the best faculty want the brightest students…Penn alumni help make this happen!

As you embark on your own transformative journey, know that Penn’s alumni community will be there to support and encourage you – every step of the way.  You have made a lifelong commitment to Penn and you can be assured that the Penn alumni community will make a lifelong commitment to you! You are part of the Penn tradition, and your experience starts here.

Enjoy every minute of your Penn experience!


Almanac - September 14, 2010, Volume 57, No. 03