Commencement

Commencement at Franklin Field

On Monday, May 17, Penn held its 254th Commencement to honor graduating students and their families. For the 24th consecutive year, the ceremony was held at Franklin Field.
The University’s first Commencement was held on May 17, 1757, when Paul Jackson, Jacob Duché, Jr., Francis Hopkinson, Samuel Magaw, Hugh Williamson, James Latta and John Morgan received Bachelor of Arts degrees.

In this edition of By The Numbers, we walk with the graduates.

12 Number of students in the Class of 1757, Penn’s first group of graduates. Half of the University students were from Philadelphia or Chester County.

1780 Year in which the University recognized Thomas Paine, a hero of the American Revolution, with an honorary degree. Paine authored such influential books as “The American Crisis” and “Common Sense.”

10 Number of U.S. presidents who have received honorary degrees from Penn. President George Washington was given an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1783 for his leadership during the Revolutionary War.

1879 Year in which Penn held two Commencement ceremonies. As if to remedy the omission of the academic ceremony in the war year of 1779, the University held two Commencements in 1879, both at the Academy of Music.

268,762 Total number of living alumni of record, as of Fall 2009.

1880 Year in which Mary Alice Bennett became the first woman to earn a Penn degree.

2 Number of days it took to complete the Commencement of 1789. The program was extended to two days by the inclusion of no less than 15 student orations.

Originally published on May 20, 2010