(upbeat music) (“Land of Hope and Glory”) (audience applauding) – Members of the beloved
community here at Penn. Please join me in a spirit of prayer and reflection for the invocation. Let us pray. On this night of hopeful
and auspicious beginnings here in the cradle of liberty, my prayer for us all,
particularly our first year and transfer students is a simple one, that they all may be free. May they be free to be themselves. May our community be full of
safe spaces, brave spaces, where all are welcome
and where all may thrive. May our students be free from
an unhealthy perfectionism or a fear of failure. May they be free from
self-imposed isolations at the misbelief that no one understands what they’re going through
or where they’re coming from. May they be free to ask for help and to know when they need it. May they be free from
a lack of flexibility, both in an openness to having their minds and perspectives changed, but also a vocational flexibility that might allow for surprising new paths to present themselves. May they be free to pursue
leadership positions, to bring about positive change, to ride through freshman year like a boss. (audience laughing) May they also be free to
sometimes rest and take it easy, also like a boss. (audience laughing) We pray you bless them
with a freedom of mind, freedom of spirit, freedom of heart that will endure all their
days at Penn and long after. Bless this first night. Bless this academic year and bless our University of Pennsylvania. Amen. Please be seated. – How we all doing? (audience applauding) Class of 2023. (audience cheering) And not to be outdone, where
are my transfer students? (audience cheering) 115 strong and loud. Class of 2023 and transfer students. As your Dean of Admissions, I welcome all of you
on behalf of the staff of Penn admissions, and our academic and university life partners who found merit in your individual stories through the college selection process. Penn chose you, and you chose Penn. Now the real work and fun begins. The work is not about
building a new transcript and resume for the next
application process. You already did that. Or reaching for the next
rung on the career ladder. The opportunity and challenge
you all have in front of you is to take the time to
learn from each other by actively listening with an
open mind and an open heart. You’re all smart, I know that. But none of us has all the answers. Through the academic curriculum, campus spaces like Locust Walk, and the great city of Philadelphia, seek greater knowledge by
learning from those around you, especially those who have had different experiences throughout life. You have four short years
to learn from each other, support each other and grow together. Enjoy these moments as you evolve from a collection of individuals and form an identity as a class. Now with this Penn relays baton, I put you into the caring
hands of our president, Dr. Amy Guttman. (audience applauding) – So, class of 2023. Let’s give it up for the
person who led the team who admitted each and every
one of you, Dean Eric Furda. (audience applauding) Okay, class of 2023. You’ve arrived, feels pretty good, huh? Transfers, you made the right choice, so let’s hear it for the transfers again. (audience applauding) You come from all 50 states
in the District of Columbia, and you come from 79
countries around the world. The sheer diversity you represent is nearly impossible to capture in words. But this being Penn,
we’re gonna try, okay? So, together, on the count of three, I want you to shout out either
the state that you’re from if you’re from the United States, or the country you’re from. Okay, ready? One, two, three. (audience shouting) Whoa, I really heard Canada
loud and strong there. We can do even better, let me see what other places
I hear loud and strong. We’re gonna try it one more time. That was pretty darn good, but we’re gonna try it one more time. Because we being Penn, we can
always do things even better. Okay, together, one, two, three. (audience shouting) Australia. (Amy laughing) We have a dean here who comes
from the land down under, yes. Okay. So, welcome. I am now welcoming you
all to the Penn family, and also congratulating you on the journey that you took to get here. And for most of you, the
journey began in 2001, the year you were born. People say it was the year
that changed everything. I say that you are the class, whether you’re born in
2001 or thereabouts, you are the class that
can transform everything. In coming to Penn, you arrived at the very best place in the world to develop your creativity
to the maximum effect. Consider this the official launch date for the next stage in your journey. And let’s call it 2001, a Penn odyssey. Now and trust me when I tell you, it’s gonna be out of this world. You’re gonna have to get
used to a lot of puns here. To maximize your Penn odyssey, I challenge you every day to, maybe you can predict, but
if you can’t predict it, you’re gonna take it to
heart, expand your orbit. This is the 50th anniversary
of the Apollo 11 mission that put the first person on the moon. Neil Armstrong stepped out
onto the lunar landscape, and he declared, “That’s
one small step for man, “one giant leap for mankind.” It’s a line we know by heart. Here’s something we can all take to heart. Penn alumni helped put the
first person on the moon. Penn graduates helped run
the Kennedy Space Center and engineered the rocket technology that powered the Apollo program. The moon landing was a defining
achievement in my lifetime. In your lifetime, it
very well may be Mars. People such as Elon Musk, the Penn alum whose SpaceX program is transforming how we
journey to the stars may help that happen. Penn faculty are investigating
how the human body can better cope with space travel. And Penn undergraduates just like you intern at NASA each and every year. Our Center for Undergraduate
Research and Fellowships, CURF for short, can connect you with
many such opportunities. But space exploration
is just one possibility. Expanding your orbit at Penn involves every field and every endeavor. So, who here is a movie fan? Any movie fans here? Yes, good, I’m a huge movie buff myself. And it leads me to wonder, this summer, how many of you saw “Avengers: Endgame”? Okay, I guess you might have, after all, it’s the highest grossing
film of all time. What you might not know is that both “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” were co-directed by none other than a Penn grad. That’s right. Anthony Russo graduated from our College of Arts and Sciences
with a degree in English. It just goes to show you, you can laugh, but it just goes to show
you, you should laugh, to do something out of this world at Penn, you don’t have to major in physics. Expanding your orbit goes
well beyond your major. It means growing your
understanding of community service, of citizenship, and your own well-being. To help you do this, I encourage you to pursue an exciting new certificate program that will launch this spring called Paideia. It means educating the whole person, and it derives from an ancient Greek philosophy of education. The idea may come from the ancient past, but Penn’s Paideia is
updated and innovative. It is made for modern times,
like a form of time travel. I think of it as Benjamin Franklin meets “Back to the Future.” Every part, in every part
of your Penn education, from coursework to citizenship, the secret to success
is to expand your orbit. And since there’s no
time like the present, I propose we start right now. So, please stand up. Go ahead, stretch your legs, stand up. Okay, the very first step in
expanding your orbit of Penn is reaching out to somebody new. So look around and choose
somebody you haven’t met before. And when I give the word, say hi, tell them something about yourself, a quick fact about yourself. Okay, everyone, go for it. Okay, great. Have a seat. I see plenty of smiles, so I declare your first
launch a success, okay? Today you officially join a Penn line of explorers stretching
back nearly three centuries. Benjamin Franklin, eight signers of the
Declaration of Independence, nine signers of the Constitution, and 320,000 living alumni all around the world. It’s most passionate, there is no more passionately engaged network of people than the Penn family. And you are joining that
family officially this evening. It is the most engaged, the most creative network of
leaders and thinkers anywhere. They have expanded their
orbits through Penn, the results are often transformational, and this I know, not
just as Penn’s president, but also as an explorer myself. Not long ago, in fact just maybe less
than two years ago, I asked Jonathan Moreno, who is one of our Penn
Integrates Knowledge University professors, to partner with me on a new book about
healthcare and bioethics. The book is intended to help all of us better navigate the most innovative and important medical issues of our time. And we called the book, “Everybody Wants to Go to
Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die.” It’s about hard choices. Now, Professor Moreno
and I had worked together on President Obama’s bioethics commission, but we have diverse backgrounds. I’m a political scientist, and he’s an expert in the history of medicine and health policy. I thought that by expanding
our orbits together, we could write a better book
than I could do by myself. And luckily, just luckily, he agreed. So writing a book is super
exciting, I can tell you that. But I can also tell you, it’s hard work and it’s long hours. And I won’t go into detail about our many months of collaboration, but if any of you want to know more, I’m happy to correspond with
you or talk to you about it. But I do want to offer you one very important piece of advice, and it’s based on a fact that
I learned writing the book. And that is that Insomnia Cookies makes home deliveries until
3:00 a.m. every night. (audience applauding) This may be the tastiest
piece of information you get in your orientation,
you heard it here first. The outcome of our teamwork, seriously, is far more than a book. It is a case study for what we at Penn do each and every day, and that’s what makes Penn so special and why I tell you this story. It makes Penn such a powerful
force in all of our lives and for new knowledge and
for good in the world. It’s working together, it’s
collaborating across boundaries. Together, we forge long
lasting relationships, we reach across diverse
perspectives and disciplines, and we build, as Reverend Howard
said, a beloved community. As you embark on your Penn odyssey, you join a university where all of us take to heart our
commitment to helping each and every one of you work together, succeed, discover together,
and celebrate together. So most of all, every
day in countless ways, we will expand our orbits together. And if you’ll forgive me for concluding that it’s going to be a blast. So thank you all very, very much and enjoy your Penn odyssey. (audience applauding) ♪ I kissed my penny and I threw it in ♪ ♪ I prayed I’d keep my soul ♪ ♪ Went down to the river
where the water bends ♪ ♪ The only place I know ♪ ♪ Oh, I can’t see ♪ ♪ The forest for the trees ♪ ♪ So will you wait for me ♪ ♪ Oh, will you wait for me ♪ ♪ Oh, will you wait for me ♪ ♪ My evergreen ♪ ♪ Standing at the water’s edge ♪ ♪ The Mississippi’s overflowing ♪ ♪ Hold your current in my hands ♪ ♪ You bring the meaning to my moments ♪ ♪ Oh, I can’t see ♪ ♪ The forest for the trees ♪ ♪ So will you wait for me ♪ ♪ Will you wait for me ♪ ♪ Will you wait for me ♪ ♪ My evergreen ♪ ♪ Hey ♪ ♪ Oh, I can’t see ♪ ♪ The forest for the trees ♪ ♪ Oh, I feel ♪ ♪ So hopeless against the stream ♪ ♪ So will you wait for me ♪ ♪ My evergreen ♪ ♪ I know it’s just as hard in Heaven ♪ ♪ Oh, will you wait for me ♪ ♪ My evergreen ♪ ♪ I know it’s just as hard ♪ ♪ My evergreen ♪ ♪ Evergreen ♪ ♪ My evergreen ♪ (audience applauding) – Let’s hear it one more
time for Counterparts. (audience applauding) Good evening. As Provost, Penn’s Chief Academic Officer, it’s my great pleasure to
welcome you this evening. So convocation marks the first time you’re assembled together as a class. It’s a Penn tradition that dates back at least formally to 1910. So, Penn has changed a lot since then. The class of 1914 didn’t
look much like your class. They didn’t have the
same diverse backgrounds. They weren’t from across the
country and around the world. And they didn’t have the
diversity of goals that you do. But, and this is just a guess,
sitting here that evening, their thoughts were probably not that much different than yours, right? “I got this.” Or maybe, “I don’t got this.” They were excited and
uncertain about the future. Uncertainty, excitement, even fear are natural emotions when
confronting the unknown. Maybe you felt them when
you wobbled unsteadily on your first bike ride, or when you peered over the steering wheel for the first time, right, remember that? Or when you faced the SAT. So, Penn is a new place, and college is a new
stage of life for you. All those emotions are in play tonight. Yes, even a little fear maybe. But my message to you this
evening is to be fearless. And taking advantage of all the opportunities open to you here. In your desire to change yourself and in your aspirations
for improving the world. At the end of his 1961
speech to the students at Michigan’s Kalamazoo College, the writer James Baldwin told that class, “The world is before you
and you need not take it “or leave it as it was when you came in.” In an earlier time of
turmoil in the country, he was conveying to the
students that they had a choice. They could avoid the
challenges facing the country, or they could engage fully and change themselves and
the world around them. You now have the ability,
the obligation, really, to shape our future, because you’re gonna lead
us, no pressure there. Your years at Penn will
give you the opportunity to learn about things as they
are, and you will do that. But I encourage you to be fearless and imagine how they could be. Now what does that mean,
practically speaking? Well, for one thing, it
means speaking, reaching out, engaging with those around
you, getting involved. Your connection may be the spark that changes a life, that’s serious. Make your opinions heard in the classroom, on our campus, and in the community. Penn has no fence that surrounds us. There are no high walls,
bars or barriers to cross. The West Philadelphia
community is our community. Locust Walk right here is both the heart of our
campus and a public street. As such, it is open to everyone. On it, you will hear opinions
different than yours, I promise you, some from fellow students and some from non-students. Free speech is a cornerstone
of this university and our democracy, and we
take it very seriously. Keep in mind, however, that speaking out does
not mean drowning out. Penn is a diverse place in
every sense of the term. So be fearless in your listening, too, and demand that of others. You will become a better debater
and a more rounded person. The Socratic method, I’m a law professor, teaches us to question our suppositions, to hold them up for
inspection and criticism. Be fearless in your criticism, but be open to change and
willing to be convinced. Reach out and branch out. Take classes in subjects
you know nothing about. Join groups composed of people
who are nothing like you. I think you’ll be
surprised on both counts. Choose the more difficult thing
because it’s more difficult. You’ll have lots of choices here. Some of them will be difficult. The most rewarding ones usually are. Be fearless in your choices, and also know that you’ll have lots of opportunities to course correct. For example, selecting a major, we’ve already talked about this, can feel like a momentous
and difficult choice, but it’s not gonna define your future. The vast majority of US college graduates work in jobs that aren’t strictly
related to their degrees. And finally, remember that being bold, that taking chances inevitably,
inevitably brings setbacks. This is how we learn, right? Your classmates and
friends, your professors, everyone sitting here tonight, and the thousands of Penn people, Penn members of our community
not here, want you to succeed. We are your fearless champions. This community is here for you, so please reach out if
and when you need help. So earlier tonight, I talked about getting involved in our community, and let me close with that one last slot. You may know that Penn was
the nation’s first university, the first collection of schools offering specific areas of study. That’s what we mean by university. What you may not know is
that from its very founding and to this day, a critical aspect of that education has been participation. 300 years ago, Franklin envisioned a place that would encourage civic responsibility and government accountability
in a fledgling nation. That, in effect, an educated
and engaged citizenry, was the bulwark against tyranny. In these challenging times, and they are are
challenging, let’s be honest, your fearless participation
in our democracy is more important than ever. My hope for you is that your years here will be filled with pure
excitement, with joy, about this unparalleled opportunity for education and participation. Life is full of new
challenges and uncertainty. Maybe you fell off that
bike, I know I did. Or took that SAT a few
times, I know I did. Hopefully you didn’t
crash the car like I did and you made it here tonight. You made it. Members of the class of
2023, welcome to Penn. Here’s my fearless prediction. You definitely, definitely got this. Thank you. (audience applauding) ♪ We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water ♪ ♪ Coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters ♪ ♪ Let the river run ♪ ♪ Let all the dreamers wake the nation ♪ ♪ Come, the New Jerusalem ♪ ♪ Silver cities rise the morning lights ♪ ♪ The streets that meet them ♪ ♪ And sirens call them on with a song ♪ ♪ It’s asking for the taking ♪ ♪ Trembling, shaking ♪ ♪ Oh, my heart is aching ♪ ♪ We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water ♪ ♪ Coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters ♪ ♪ We the great and small stand on a star ♪ ♪ And blaze a trail of desire ♪ ♪ Through the darkening dawn ♪ ♪ It’s asking for the taking ♪ ♪ Come run with me now, the
sky is the color of blue ♪ ♪ You’ve never even seen in the eyes of ♪ ♪ Oh, my heart is aching ♪ ♪ We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water ♪ ♪ Coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters ♪ ♪ We the great and small stand on a star ♪ ♪ And blaze a trail of desire ♪ ♪ Through the darkening dawn ♪ ♪ It’s asking for the taking ♪ ♪ Trembling, shaking ♪ ♪ Oh, my heart is aching ♪ ♪ We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water ♪ ♪ Coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters ♪ ♪ Let the river run ♪ ♪ Let all the dreamers wake the nation ♪ ♪ Come, the New Jerusalem ♪ (audience applauding) – So let’s hear it
again for the Glee Club, the Counterparts, and the Penn Band. (audience applauding) And now I call upon Senior
Class President Karim El Sewedy to present the flag of the class of 2023. It will join the flags of previous classes at official university events and future alumni celebrations. So this is your class,
congratulations class of 2023. (audience applauding and cheering) Great. So it’s my great pleasure to officially declare the start of the 280th year of the
University of Pennsylvania. After the ceremony, we
all ask you to join us for a dessert reception under
the tent on Penn Commons. Before we process, I asked
you all to please rise and join us in singing the Penn anthem, “The Red and the Blue,” which is printed on the back of your passes, if you don’t know it by
heart yet, you soon will. And I’m leaving the
microphone to the others. (“The Red and the Blue”) ♪ Come, all ye loyal classmates now ♪ ♪ In hall and campus through ♪ ♪ Lift up your hearts and voices for ♪ ♪ The royal red and blue ♪ ♪ Fair Harvard has her crimson ♪ ♪ Old Yale her colors too ♪ ♪ But for dear Pennsylvania ♪ ♪ We wear the red and blue ♪ ♪ Hurrah, Pennsylvania ♪ ♪ Hurrah for the red and the blue ♪ ♪ Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah ♪ ♪ Hurrah for the red and blue ♪ (audience applauding)