(marching band plays) (graduation march music plays) – Good evening. Please join me in the spirit
of prayer for the invocation. How could we begin this evening or this school year
by doing anything other than giving thanks? Thank you for the
opportunity to study and work here at the
University of Pennsylvania. Thank you for each
individual student in the class of 2018. And what an impressive
class they are. But my prayer for them
is that they would be free from the need to
impress anyone ever again. So much of the work
of high school, indeed, so much of life
holds that temptation, the temptation to work for
the approval of others. I pray that these young women
and men would rather work to bring about positive
societal change, that they choose
their fields of study and their future vocations
not for prestige, but because it is their
passion and their calling. I pray that they choose
their activities and clubs simply to pursue
joy, artistic beauty, and a selfless service,
that they make friends not to network, but
for friendship’s sake, and may the entire
university community, our faculty, staff, students, and administrators all be
blessed this academic year. Amen. (crowd applauds) – Good evening class of 2018. Please be seated. And where are my
transfer students? (crowd cheers) – As Dean of
Admission, I am proud to finally see you all together on Penn’s beautiful campus
on the evening before the first day of classes. Don’t worry, you know
how to be a student. It is what you have been
doing your entire life. Of course, college should
and will be different. Whether you’re an
early decision admit, (crowd cheers) – regular decision admit, (crowd cheers) – or like Kylee, a
leader of the Penn Band who tells me to be good
to the wait list students, a proud admit from
the wait list. (crowd cheers) – Know that each one
of you earned your spot into Penn for your
promise and potential as a student and
community member. Penn would not be
the same without you. The script is not yet
written on your time at Penn. For those of you
who know exactly what you want to be in
your life, congratulations. I graduated in 1987
and still don’t have a clear answer to that question. In fact, it is the
unknown promise of each day that motivates
me to do my very best as a father, husband,
friend, and as Dean. Even when my calendar is full, and expectations
are always high. In these moments, I
try to stay balanced, take care of myself, and
lean on those around me. Life is not perfect
and we don’t expect or want you to
try to be perfect. I often reflect on
the extraordinary experiences I had at Penn, loving my history classes,
meeting my best friends as a sprint football player, hearing my favorite
a Capella groups, cheering on my classmates
to Ivy Championships, and we won a lot of them, listening to great music
throughout Philadelphia, and yes, playing hard at
Spring Fling and Hey Day. But I also remember
the challenging times and making it through
those moments. Would I be lost thinking
back on Hemingway, or was I going to
be resilient without truly knowing what
that meant at the time? I remember self doubt on
why I was admitted to Penn during NSO as the only
person from my high school. The sun also rises. I remember questioning
my academic preparation with my first
writing assignments and a grade of C in
a history seminar. The sun also rises. I remember feeling
socially isolated when I moved to 44th
Street my sophomore year. The sun also rises. I remember the fear
of falling behind after I had an emergency
surgery my junior year. The sun also rises. I remember the
deepest sadness when a close family
friend passed away. The sun also rises. I also remember how
proud my parents were on graduation day
at Franklin Field and when I received
a job offer in the Penn’s Office of Admissions. The sun also rises. Class of 2018 and transfers,
please know how proud the entire Penn family
is of the great promise and potential within all of you. Look to your classmates tonight, think of the faculty,
resident advisers, College Hall staff,
cultural resource centers, and so many others as
your own support network. Penn would not be
the same without you. Take care of yourself,
take care of one another. Thank you. (crowd applauds) – Members of the class of 2018, welcome one and all. Students transferring to
Penn from other schools, brilliant move. I say this without
any bias whatsoever. You come to us from
across this country and all around the world, from California, (crowd cheers) – to Massachusetts. (crowd cheers) – From Texas. (crowd cheers) – How about New York? (crowd cheers) – And of course, from the
great state of Pennsylvania. (crowd cheers) – You come from India. (crowd cheers and laughs) – Well done. Brazil? (crowd cheers) – The United Kingdom. (crowd cheers) – And many countries in between. (crowd cheers) – Shout ’em out. (crowd shouts) – I heard someone
say Little Rock. Not a country. You come from numerous
cultures and walks of life but no matter where
you come from, know you’ve arrived
at the right place and know that we are
thrilled that you’re here. Tonight, we formally
welcome you to your new home with a tradition
called Convocation. Not an everyday word. Convocation is an ancient word. It comes from Latin roots. It means an assemblage of people gathered for a special purpose. We convocate to make
weighty decisions, we convocate to
plan great ventures, and we convocate to
model the hottest runway looks in
academic fashion, and I do mean hot. These robes were not designed
with air conditioning. They were designed
for air conditioning in ancient times where
they knew no better, but we love them. We love them. With your convocation,
you officially join one of the greatest
assemblies in history. You join centuries,
centuries, think about it, of Penn Luminaries
and visionaries, nation builders,
and Nobel Laureates. You join the likes
of Benjamin Franklin and W. E. B. Du Bois, and six, no less than six signers of the United States Constitution. And the special purpose
that you now share with all Penn people,
past, present, and future, is engagement, to
engage what we know and to engage what we do
to create a better world. Engagement for good
is our Penn purpose. Think about it. In the past few days, you’ve
been meeting new people and making new friends. Some of those people will
forever change your life. Mark my word. But the most fulfilling
engagement you will do during your time at
Penn will require you to reach beyond what’s familiar, to embrace what’s new, and so I propose
we start right now. There’s no time
like the present. I want everyone to stand up. No, this is not a
drill, but go ahead, stand up and stretch your legs. Good. Now, I want you to look around and greet somebody near you
who you haven’t met before. Shake hands, give a
high five, fist bump, whatever you like. No exceptions. Okay. I said no exceptions. What about me? Come on. (crowd cheers) – Come here. This is Tensel and
she is from Russia. Let’s hear it. (crowd cheers) – Johnathan. – And where are you from? – New York. – Johnathan’s from New York. Welcome, Johnathan. – You’re going to
be the last one. What’s your name? – Amy. – Amy. Guess who’s name, who’s, what
this young woman’s name is? Amy! From? – Georgia. – Georgia. Welcome, how about a hug? – Thank you. – Sarah. – Sarah from where? – Georgia. – Another Georgian, Sarah. Okay, last one. – James from Taiwan. – James from Taiwan. Okay, come on, you three of you. What’s your name? – I’m Joe. – Joe from where? – New Jersey. – Joe from the former
state I lived in for purposes I will not mention, from New Jersey. There you go. – Richard from Wisconsin. – Richard from Wisconsin. And we’re going to have to
stop with the pink shirt. – Yeah. – Okay. No. What’s your name? – I’m Joe from Chicago. – Joe from Chicago. Okay, let’s hear it. – Can I take a picture with you? – Later. Okay? – Okay. I’m going
to hold you to that. – You’ll hold me to that. I promise to have
a picture later. Okay, now, please have a seat. You have just performed
and I have just performed the most basic building
block of our great calling and what you’re feeling right
now is the natural result. A little weird but
exciting, right? At least that’s what I feel. This happens naturally
and engagement begins quite simply. It begins like we just began, with a brush of humanity. It’s an extended hand,
it’s a fist bump, it’s a shared smile. We feel connection
and we feel empathy. We can make connections
with every person here and on the
face of the Earth and take that seriously
because we build from that. We build great things from that. We learn new things. It begins by learning and we apply our talents
and labors toward improving the lives around us and we do it beginning
with unscripted moments. Nobody here knew that
I was going to do that. It was fun. And believe me, I can’t
do that many things, especially when I’m
standing on a stage, that aren’t scripted. From there, from
those unscripted, serendipitous moments,
our efforts spread from learning to our communities to our nations and to the world. Of course a smile and a
handshake are not enough to move the needle
on many challenges, both great and small,
not nearly enough to answer the really
tough challenges. You need broad knowledge
and innovative resources. You need deep understanding. You need collaboration and you
need access to diverse ideas. And that’s what you’ll
find here at Penn. All you have to do is
take the initiative and keep taking it. When he laid down the
plan for this university, our founder, Ben
Franklin, pictured a special kind of graduate. He knew that the graduates
of this university would make a
difference in the world and they would be there not just to know a lot, but to know why and how to put their
knowledge to use. He knew it because he lived it. He was a prolific inventor and
he was a revered statesman. He brought us the
first lending library, the first volunteer
fire department, the first hospital
in the country, which is part of the
University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital,
and of course, his greatest deed, bringing
us America’s first university. So you could say
engagement is in Penn’s DNA but when we talk about
devoting our knowledge and talents to engagement,
we shouldn’t overlook an important part
of the question. When you give of yourself, you also get a lot in return and there’s good evidence
to show that those who engage in significant ways feel greater happiness
and contentment. We don’t do it with the purpose of greater happiness
and contentment. It is the byproduct of it. Indeed, if you aim at
happiness and contentment, you’ll probably miss the target. You aim to serve a larger cause than yourself. You aim to get a
greater sense of purpose and I discovered this for myself in one of my earliest
jobs as a counselor at a sleep-away summer camp
for disadvantaged children. Like almost all my
campers, Dana’s family was on public assistance. She seemed unrelentingly sad and eventually, after
drawing her out a bit, she told me that she felt guilty that she was at
this sleep-away camp when her mom worked
three housekeeping jobs to support Dana’s entire family. And after I heard her story, I decided it was
just a small goal but for me, it was a
passion that summer that building Dana’s happiness and dispelling
her guilt would be my primary goal that
summer as a counselor. Now, I have to tell you
that dispelling guilt doesn’t come naturally
to anyone who, like me, was raised well by a
Jewish mother and father. But undeterred, I set
out to prove to Dana that if she worked really hard, and she became a camp
leader in her group, her mother would be so proud and that would pay her mother
back in an important way. And Dana engaged and
she achieved her goal. She became the
leader of our cabin and in the end, to
my great delight, her mother wrote me
to say after camp that Dana came home
a truly happy camper, a really happy young woman. And to this day, I still
count that summer with Dana among the most satisfying and edifying times of my life. Edifying because I discovered
that my life is infinitely, infinitely more
satisfying to the extent that I can devote it
to helping transform the lives of others
and just as your lives will be immensely more
satisfying to the extent that you devote your knowledge and talents towards something
larger than yourself. Think about it. As individuals,
we are very small. Even the biggest
among us are tiny in the larger
universe of humanity but you’ve arrived
at the perfect place to be so much larger
than yourself. You have arrived at the
university that is alive with opportunities to engage. Here, you can boldly embrace
new and challenging ideas. You can stretch beyond
your course of study to draw from
multiple disciplines, you can take on
original research with the best
faculty in the world to answer some of the world’s
most pressing questions. Be joiners. Join with the Netter Center. Join with Civic House. Join with Fox Leadership
to enrich your education with dynamic social service. And keep this in mind: None of us succeeds on our own. Our individual success depends on the contribution
of communities. Sure, it depends
on our hard work and our talent, but
that alone won’t do it. We also depend on communities. Joining is the first step,
engagement comes next. And mark my words, your
engagement with Penn will be one of the greatest
sources of satisfaction throughout your life
so I invite you, I encourage you,
I challenge you, proud, proud members of the class of 2018 and equally proud
transfer students, engage to do good and together, let’s show the world what
a world of difference a Penn education can make. This is your time. Penn is your place. Let us begin, thank you. (crowd applauds) – Two, three, four,
two, two, three four. (vocalizing) ♪ I don’t mind when
you’re down you see ♪ but just give it time ♪ don’t hurry now,
it goes way too fast ♪ You’re not the big
fish in the pond no more ♪ So what are you gonna do when ♪ the world don’t
all bend around you? (vocalizing) ♪ What are you gonna do ♪ when the world don’t
all bend around you? ♪ Ain’t it fun living ♪ in the real world (vocalizing) ♪ Being all alone ♪ Where you’re from ♪ You might be the one (vocalizing) ♪ You can ring anybody’s bell (vocalizing) ♪ It’s easy to ignore ♪ When you’re living
in your bubble ♪ What are you gonna do ♪ When the world don’t
all bend around you? (vocalizing) ♪ What are you gonna do ♪ When nobody wants to ♪ be cool with you? ♪ Ain’t it fun ♪ Living in the real world? (vocalizing) ♪ Ain’t it fun ♪ Being all alone ♪ Ain’t it good
to be on your own? ♪ Ain’t it fun ♪ You can’t count on no one ♪ Good to be on your own ♪ Ain’t it fun you
can’t count on no one ♪ Fun, living ♪ in the real world (vocalizing) ♪ Don’t go cryin ♪ To your mama ♪ ‘Cause you’re on your own ♪ In the real world ♪ Don’t go cryin ♪ To your mama ♪ ‘Cause you’re on your own ♪ In the real world ♪ Don’t go cryin ♪ To your mama ♪ ‘Cause you’re on your own ♪ In the real world ♪ Don’t go cryin ♪ To your mama ♪ ‘Cause you’re on your own ♪ In the real world ♪ Ain’t it fun, ain’t it fun ♪ Baby, now you’re one of us ♪ Ain’t it fun, ain’t it fun ♪ Ain’t it fun, ain’t it fun ♪ Living in the real world ♪ ‘Cause the world don’t
all bend around you ♪ Ain’t it good ♪ On your own (vocalizing) ♪ Don’t go crying to your mama ♪ Don’t, to your mama ♪ You’re on your own
in the real world ♪ Don’t go crying ♪ To your mama ♪ ‘Cause you’re on your own ♪ This is the real world ♪ (crowd applauds) – As Provost, I have
the great pleasure of welcoming you to Penn. President Gutmann
once playfully noted that Provost has a
number of meanings, including prison warden. I prefer Chief Academic Officer. It’s not only more
accurate here, it’s just a bit more collegial. As the President
mentioned, a convocation is a gathering of people
for some special purpose in a particular place. It’s bigger than a meet up and less ephemeral
than Snapchat. This evening, we
have our gathering, the first time you have
come together as a class. Our purpose tonight is twofold; to formally open
the academic year and to extend our
welcome to Penn. Perhaps there’s a third fold. Sometimes, we can’t
resist giving advice. At least, I can’t. What I’d like to focus on for an extra moment this
evening is our place. Not this particular place, here, in front of College Hall,
hallowed though it may be, but place in a wider sense. Your place at Penn
and after four years, in the world beyond it. Places can be indelible
markers in our lives. We have highly emotional, even visceral reactions
to certain places. Consider the memorable
events in our lives. We often forget the exact dates or the times, but we
remember where we were when those events
occurred and how we felt; excited or nervous,
happy or sad, impatient for me
to get on with it. Some places shape our identity; where we were born, the
house we grew up in, the street we lived on. These places, we call home. And they help to
make us who we are. Now, Penn is a new
home for each of you and in a world of increasingly
virtual interactions, a college campus has a
wonderful way of reminding us that some benefits are
best enjoyed together, in person, in the same place. Like any new place, Penn can be a little disorienting, at times, maybe even a little bit scary. You might be wondering, you’ve
just met your new roommate and you’re thinking, “How can
someone possibly a hoarder “after just a few days?” And you may second guess some
of the choices you make here, the classes that you’ve
selected for this semester, maybe even eventually
your choice of a major. Should you have any such doubts, don’t worry, they
are a natural part of being someplace new
and they will pass. When we move, we talk
about finding our place and it takes some time and incidentally, those
doubts will be shared by each of your classmates and that’s the power of college. We are all here
finding our place. I can’t guarantee that
you and your roommate will become fast
friends, but part of your Penn education will be
managing relationships, even in fact, perhaps most
importantly, when you disagree. It’s a skill that will serve
you well into the future. And keep in mind that as
much as places make us, we make places what they are, or at least we
make them our own, and this place is no different. Penn will be what
you make of it. You can be the person
you’ve always been, a person, by the way,
we like very much. That’s why we admitted
you to the class. Or, you can become an entirely new person if you choose. You can have fun,
which I endorse, or you can have a
little too much fun. You can challenge yourself
or you can possibly try to coast for four
years but if you do, I think you’ll find that in and of itself
will be a challenge. I suggest the unfamiliar
way, where there are new things to learn, new
destinations to visit, new foods to try. Leave your comfort zone. Take classes on topics
you know nothing about. Learn how to act or sing or
play tennis or write fiction. If you ever get lost,
or feel you’ve taken on a bit too much or
lose your place, please just ask for help. That is another skill that will serve you very well
in the years to come. And finally, resist the
impulse to do too much. We want you invigorated
but not exhausted. Learn the important place
of sleep in your life and make sure you
get enough of it. I’m serious about that. Tonight, just
think of this place as your place
waiting to be made. Four years from now,
I’m fairly certain you won’t remember
what date we met or what day it was and I’m not naive
enough to think you’ll remember
every word I’ve said although you are Penn students so I hope you remember
at least a bit of it. However, I’m very confident
that you will remember where you were and
precisely how you felt; very excited, a little nervous, and immensely proud to take your rightful place in
the class of 2018. Welcome to Penn. (crowd applauds) (vocalizing) ♪ I have often dreamed ♪ Of a far off place ♪ Where a great, warm welcome ♪ Will be waiting for me ♪ Where the crowds will cheer ♪ When they see my face ♪ And a voice keeps saying ♪ This is where I’m meant to be ♪ I will find my way ♪ I can go the distance ♪ I’ll be there someday ♪ If I can be strong ♪ I know every mile ♪ Will be worth my while ♪ When I go the distance ♪ I’ll be right were ♪ I belong ♪ Belong (vocalizing) ♪ Belong (vocalizing) ♪ I’ll be where I belong ♪ Down an unknown road
to embrace my fate ♪ Though that road may wander ♪ It will lead me to you ♪ And a thousand years
would be worth the wait ♪ It may take a lifetime ♪ But somehow,
I’ll see it through ♪ I will find my way ♪ I can go the distance ♪ I’ll be there someday. ♪ I can be strong ♪ I know every mile ♪ Will be worth my while ♪ When I go the distance ♪ I’ll be right where I belong ♪ Where I belong ♪ But to look beyond the glory ♪ Is the hardest part ♪ For a hero’s strength
is measured by his heart ♪ His heart, his heart ♪ Oh by his heart, his heart ♪ I will be, I’ll be ♪ I can go the distance ♪ Before the world ♪ And I’ll be fearless,
proud, and strong ♪ I will please my God ♪ I can go the distance ♪ ‘Til I find my hero’s welcome ♪ Right where ♪ Right there where I belong ♪ You know every
mile, every mile ♪ Will be worth ♪ My while ♪ I’ll be right where I ♪ Where I belong ♪ (crowd applauds) – Good evening. On behalf of Penn Alumni,
I want to welcome you, the class of 2018. I am delighted to extend
heartfelt greetings from the nearly
300,000 Penn graduates who have preceded you. As I was preparing for
my remarks this evening, I considered what
convocation represents to me. About 34 years ago, I
myself sat where you are, expectant, excited,
and a little nervous. I had an idea of what I
wanted from my Penn experience but I didn’t know
what my journey from freshman to senior
year would be like. I’m happy to say
it was enriching academically and socially. I learned a lot about myself. I felt prepared
when I left here. In this time and place, today, convocation represents
coming together as one Penn community
to celebrate the marriage of
tradition and innovation. The procession, the regalia, the formality of this occasion is intentional and
designed to make us all pause to recognize
what is happening here. By joining the Penn family, you are becoming part
of a tradition of
academic excellence, leadership, civic
engagement, and inclusion. But you are also
on the precipice of one of the most exciting
times of your life. The options for
courses, research, travel abroad, and
developing yourself as a citizen of the world
are unparalleled here. It is truly an exciting
time to be at Penn. By committing to
innovation in every aspect of the university’s operation, from the greening of
recreational spaces to integrating knowledge
between schools to nanotechnology that
transforms medicine to state of the art
dorms and facilities, Penn is a great place
to discover who you are and what unique contribution
you can make to society. The tradition that
I cherish the most from my time here
is the tradition of forging long
lasting friendships. This tradition
crosses generations and is one of the defining
features of the Penn community that will continue
into the future. Two of the people I
talk to every day, that I in fact talked to today, I met at Penn when
I was a freshman. The friends you make here will be your friends for
the rest of your life. In closing, I want to give
you some words of advice. Stay present. The time you are
here will go by fast. Stay balanced in mind,
body, and spirit. You should work hard
but give yourself time to rest, play, and renew. Be mindful that
tradition brings with it a foundation on
which you can rely to help move you forward,
to thrive, and to excel. Finally, stay strong. Penn alumni are behind
you all the way. Thank you, congratulations,
and good luck. (crowd applauds) – Now, I’d like to invite
the Senior Class President, Ariel Koren, to come
up and present you with the class of 2018 flag. This flag will be,
this flag will join all of our official
ceremonies and alumni events. Ariel, come on up. (crowd applauds) – Plant the flag. It’s now my great
privilege to declare the start of the 275th year of the University of Pennsylvania. I look forward to joining
you on the journey that you will take at Penn. I also look forward to
something far more immediate: Your first act of joining post-convocation is dessert. So join me for dessert
on Wynn Common, behind College Hall. This too has become a tradition but before we process, let us all join together in thanking Off The Beat, The
Glee Club, and the Penn Band for helping to make this
occasion so special. (crowd applauds) – And of course,
before we process, I ask all of you
now to please rise and join together as
a class in singing our Penn anthem,
The Red and Blue. It’s printed on the
back of your programs. It is no disgrace
to read the words. Learn them and join
together with us now in 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, hurrah Pennsylvania ♪ Hurrah for the ♪ Red and the Blue ♪ Hurrah, hurrah ♪ Hurrah, hurrah ♪ Hurrah for the Red and Blue ♪ (graduation march music plays)