A wet and wonderful Commencement


This year, for the first time since it began in 1982, rain washed out the traditional commencement procession down Locust Walk.

But the ceremony itself went off just about flawlessly. After some confusion as the grads hastily assembled outside Franklin Field, the assembled guests still got the full measure of pomp and circumstance.

The grads, then the dignitaries and faculty, crossed Franklin Field to emerge in the center of the brand-new stage designed for the event.

Beneath the sea of umbrellas, the usual smiles prevailed through the conferring of honorary degrees and U.S. Senator John McCain’s brief but inspiring speech. Then President Judith Rodin officially welcomed the Class of 2001 into the company of Penn alumni, school by school.

Afterwards, the soggy graduates expressed their joy by tossing the towels used to dry off their seats into the air.


The wet Commencement followed a sunny Alumni Weekend, which included Elvis on stilts and alumni strutting and rolling their stuff with family in the annual Parade of Classes down Locust Walk.

Photos by Candace diCarlo and Daniel R. Burke


Originally published on May 31, 2001