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Penn Baccalaureate 2012

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May 22, 2012, Volume 58, No. 34

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Penn Baccalaureate Remarks given on Sunday, May 13, 2012 by President Amy Gutmann.

An Opportunity to Reflect

Parents, families, friends, and colleagues, welcome! We are gathered here to honor and congratulate the great Class of 2012.

Colleges and universities are among the oldest and most enduring institutions that society ever created. Before there were 13 colonies in America there were institutions of higher education; by the time of the Revolution this University was well into its third decade. So it is not surprising we honor and cherish our academic traditions.

Among them is this ceremony, the baccalaureate, which derives from the medieval tradition of honoring Bachelor degree candidates prior to the awarding of their degrees. For those of you new to these proceedings, there is no need to worry. We will not be observing the ancient tradition—which is said to date back to 1432 at Oxford University—of having each of our graduates deliver a sermon… in Latin.

What this afternoon is about, really, is an opportunity to reflect. Our students—this remarkable Class of 2012—have grown in so many ways in the past four years. They are an enormous and potent force for good that we are about to release on the world. This is our opportunity to give thoughtful attention to all they are capable of achieving—and our heartfelt thanks for all they have meant to us in the years leading up to this moment.

Members of the Class of 2012, and parents, and loved ones: an ending is in sight, but so too is a glorious beginning. On behalf of all of the University of Pennsylvania, I honor you for what you have achieved, and welcome you to the start of this wonderful transition. Thank you, and congratulations!

Almanac - May 22, 2012, Volume 58, No. 34