Historical Information

Historical Notes

From the 18th century to today, see how Penn's Commencement ceremony has evolved over the years.

Academic Regalia

Learn the history of the cap, gown and hood.

Speakers Since 1938

View the list of Commencement speakers at Penn from 1938 to present. This list includes such prestigious names as Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor and Anchor (in 2002) and Jimmy Carter, Former President of the United States (in 1996). Plus many, many more.

Honorary Degrees

Honorary Degrees have been awarded to Thomas Paine (in 1780), George Washington (in 1783), the Marquis de Lafayette (in 1787), Walter Annenberg (in 1966), Benjamin Franklin (posthumously in 1976), Bill Cosby (in 1990), and many others.

University Archives and Records Center