Since 1755, when two Mohawk Indian brothers became students at Penn, the University has opened its doors to people of every race, color, creed and sexual orientation.
In 1829, Joseph M. Urquiola became the first Latino student to earn a Penn degree. In 1879, William Adger, James Brister and Nathan Mossell became the first African Americans to study at the University, and Tosni Imadate, the first Japanese student, graduated from the College that same year.
Today, Penn students and alumni represent a tapestry of dynamic scholars from all over the world. From Oct. 1-3, the University will proudly host Penn Spectrum, its first-ever weekend-long alumni conference devoted to diversity and community.
Sponsored by the Office of the President and Penn Alumni Relations, the conference seeks to engage diverse undergraduate and graduate alumni by providing them with a new opportunity to reunite with one another and their alma mater in a meaningful way.
Nicole C. Maloy, director of multicultural outreach at Alumni Relations, says she considers Penn’s diversity an essential part of the University.
“Without a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, a learning environment cannot function at its highest possible level,” she says. “I think President Gutmann said it best in The Penn Compact: ‘In a democracy and at great Universities, diversity and excellence go together.’”
All interested alumni are welcome, but the event will focus primarily on programs of interest to Asian, Black, Latino, Native American and LGBT communities. This will make Penn the first among its peers to bring together LGBT alumni and alumni of color at one conference, affirming not only group affinity and identity, but also cross-cultural collaboration and understanding.
President Gutmann is scheduled to deliver welcoming remarks and the weekend events will include panel discussions, student group performances with alumni, affinity-based social events and a Saturday evening gala. Gutmann will also participate in a Q&A session with conference attendees on Saturday, Oct. 2, at 9 a.m.
“Penn’s amazing momentum emanates from our proudly diverse and devoted alumni community,” Gutmann says. “The Penn Spectrum conference will launch a new forum for generations of graduates who have supported the University’s commitment to increasing understanding and building unity with diversity.”
Additional guest speakers expected at the conference include Tukufu Zuberi, chair of the Penn Department of Sociology; Marc H. Morial, CEO of the National Urban League; Grace Kao, a professor of sociology, education and Asian American Studies at Penn; former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Emilio Parrado, an associate professor of sociology at Penn.
Maloy says the main goals of Penn Spectrum are for alumni to “connect, rediscover and celebrate.” Connect, she says, with fellow alumni they will meet and greet at the conference; rediscover Penn and see how the University has changed since their student days; and celebrate the conference experience itself, from thought-provoking discussions to dinner and dancing.
To register and to find more information, visit www.pennspectrum.com or contact Maloy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets cost $85 for alumni; $70 for young alumni (Class of 2001-2010); $70 for alumni age 65 and older; $50 for Penn faculty and staff, and $20 for full time students. Registration closes on Sept. 24.
Originally published on September 14, 2010