Class of 2021
Monday, May 17, 2021
If you are unable to access the ceremony on this page, please go to the University of Pennsylvania YouTube channel.
If you are unable to access the congratulatory videos sent in by parents and loved ones on this page, please go to the University of Pennsylvania YouTube channel.
If you have trouble accessing the content of the web page please contact the email@example.com.
The University of Pennsylvania held one limited in-person undergraduate Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2021 at Franklin Field on the morning of Monday, May 17, 2021. Due to public health limitations, we regret that we were not able to welcome the entire Penn community to this year’s celebration. For this year’s ceremony, Class of 2021 academically eligible seniors who have been part of our Penn Cares asymptomatic screening testing protocol this semester were invited to participate. An email invitation was sent to those eligible, and all must have registered to participate. More information about ceremony and eligibility requirements are available in the Frequently Asked Questions.
We regret that family or friends were not able to be accommodated at Franklin Field, but they were able to watch a live webcast and the ceremony recording is posted on this page.
Unfortunately, we were not able to hold any other in-person school ceremonies for the Class of 2021. All school-based ceremonies were presented virtually. Information about these virtual ceremonies are available on the School Ceremonies page.
Laurene Powell Jobs, C’85, W’85
Impact investor and social justice advocate
Founder and President, Emerson Collective
Founder and Board Chair, College Track
Co-Founder and Board Chair, The XQ Institute
2021 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
School CeremoniesFind information about the 2021 school ceremonies
Baccalaureate CeremonyFind information and link to Bacclaureate Ceremony video
Academic RegaliaLearn about obtaining regalia for graduating students
A Message to the Class of 2021 Regarding In-Person Commencement - March 23, 2021
A Message to the Class of 2021 Regarding In-Person Commencement
Medha Narvekar, Vice President and University Secretary
Mamta Motwani Accapadi, Vice Provost for University Life
Benoit Dubé, Associate Provost and Chief Wellness Officer
We write with important updates and clarifications to previous communications about the May 17, 2021 Commencement exercises. We are pleased to share that we have expanded the pool of potentially eligible participants, which now includes:
- Undergraduate students who completed all graduation requirements in August 2020
- Undergraduate students who completed all graduation requirements in December 2020
- All current seniors completing graduation requirements in May 2021, including those who have been on campus, off campus in West Philadelphia, and/or who have spent this semester at home or in other locations.
The above groups are potentially eligible, but participation in Commencement is not automatic.
We remain deeply concerned by positive COVID-19 cases in our student community. An outbreak could derail our intent to host an in-person Commencement. We implore you as seniors to minimize risk and make thoughtful decisions. We need you to maintain the health and safety of our community.
All students wishing to participate in Commencement must meet the following requirements:
- Begin or continue Penn Cares screening testing no later than the week of April 5:
- Students currently participating in Penn Cares are expected to continue their current protocol of twice weekly testing until Commencement
- Students who had not been testing thus far because they had not had a significant presence on campus this semester will be required to test weekly during the month of April and twice weekly starting the week of May 3 and until Commencement
- Present a green PennOpen Pass on May 17
Instructions about scheduling tests in Penn Cares for August and December 2020 graduates will be forthcoming.
We understand that the above requirements compel students not currently on campus or in West Philadelphia to travel to the area in April, and for some, to remain in Philadelphia for several weeks in anticipation of the May 17 Commencement exercises. This requirement is essential to our ensuring the health and safety of all attending the Commencement exercises.
To be clear: We cannot accept negative COVID-19 results from other testing locations. We cannot allow students to submit vaccination results in lieu of Penn Cares testing. Any student wishing to participate in-person on May 17th must be part of Penn Cares testing in the weeks leading to Commencement.
All students intending to participate in Commencement must register to attend. You will receive an invitation by Friday April 2 to your Penn email. Please read and respond in a timely manner.
Students not currently on campus or in Philadelphia should discuss these requirements with their families. We encourage you to review the Commencement FAQ.
Those who are not currently in Philadelphia and/or not enrolled in Penn Cares will need to gain access to the COVID Scheduler to book their first and subsequent testing appointments. More information on the student testing program can be found on the Student Testing Resources webpage.
We remain sorry that we cannot invite family and friends to Commencement, but we appreciate your understanding the unique challenges of hosting this event during a pandemic.
We are hopeful that every graduating senior who wants to participate in Commencement can do so. And we are confident that all of you will help us keep our community, and our West Philadelphia neighbors safe and healthy.
A Message to the Penn Community Regarding Commencement - March 9, 2021
A Message to the Penn Community Regarding Commencement
President Amy Gutmann
Provost Wendell Pritchett
Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli
With the end of the academic year approaching, thoughts naturally begin to turn toward Commencement, one of Penn’s grandest traditions and a worthy recognition of the academic accomplishments of our students.
Since the onset of the pandemic, travel has been curtailed and large gatherings have been prohibited in jurisdictions across the country, including here in Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These conditions forced a postponement of last year’s in-person ceremony and has compelled us to contend with much uncertainty as we planned for the possibility of a ceremony this May.
We are pleased to report that, based upon the new guidelines very recently issued by the Philadelphia Health Department, we have now confirmed that we will be able to hold one limited in-person undergraduate Commencement ceremony at Franklin Field on the morning of May 17th. This plan is contingent upon there being no major interim change for the worse in the course of the pandemic. Due to public health limitations, we regret that we will not be able to welcome the entire Penn community to this year’s celebration. For this year’s ceremony, Class of 2021 seniors who have been part of our asymptomatic testing protocol this semester, and who have not had housing or access to campus revoked because of a Campus Compact violation, will be invited to participate. No travel from outside of the Philadelphia region to attend will be permitted. Family or friends will not be able to be accommodated at Franklin Field but they will be able to watch a livestream and the ceremony recording will be posted to our website. Unfortunately, we are not able to hold any other in-person ceremonies for the Class of 2021, and we cannot include graduate or professional students at the in-person event. All Graduate ceremonies will be presented virtually, and graduate and professional students will hear directly from their schools about those plans.
The graduating seniors who plan to participate in Commencement will be required to test negative for COVID-19 prior to the ceremony. Masks will be required, as will social distancing. Specific details regarding health checks and registration will be sent directly to graduating seniors.
We are also pleased at this time to be able to announce that our Commencement speaker will be Penn alumna Laurene Powell Jobs. Ms. Powell Jobs is founder and president of Emerson Collective, which is dedicated to the pursuit of a more equal and just world. Emerson Collective deploys a range of tools – from impact investing to philanthropy to advocacy – to lift up entrepreneurs, leaders, innovators, and creators working to build such a world and advance progress in critical areas, including education, immigration, climate, and cancer research and treatment. Through her leadership, philanthropy and advocacy, Ms. Powell Jobs is an inspiring example of the positive impact that Penn alumni are making in addressing complex issues that face our nation and world, and her insight will ensure our graduates a memorable and meaningful Commencement experience.
In addition, we have an extraordinary group of other Honorary Degree recipients whose accomplishments we will celebrate by bestowing the University’s highest recognition: Elizabeth Alexander (GR’92), poet and President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Frances H. Arnold, 2018 Nobel Prize winner and the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology; David L. Cohen (L’81), Senior Advisor of Comcast Corporation and Chair of the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania; Joy Harjo, poet and musician of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation and the 23rd United States Poet Laureate; David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee and Former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and member of Parliament in the United Kingdom; John Williams, composer and musical director for film and concert stage, and former Music Director of the Boston Pops Orchestra; and Janet L. Yellen, economist and the 78th United States Secretary of the Treasury.
Please know that we will continue to look for an opportunity to appropriately recognize our 2020 graduates, along with 2021 graduates who will not be able to attend this year’s event, as soon as pandemic restrictions permit. We want to ensure that all of these students have the opportunity for their academic accomplishments to be publicly recognized, and we are committed to finding a way to make that happen.
We are pleased to be able to recognize as many of our graduates as is safely possible in person at Franklin Field on May 17th. To all our graduates, we offer our heartfelt congratulations on a job well done.
We will keep the campus community posted if any changes to our current plans become necessary. Specific details for those able to attend will be sent soon.