2017: A Year in Review

Penn President Amy Gutmann kicked off the year with a convocation address welcoming the Class of 2020, bringing together exceptional students and future change-makers from 81 countries around the world. This broad internationalism reflects Penn’s longstanding tradition of dynamic global engagement—a tradition which was advanced this year by several notable initiatives. Foremost among these were two foreign policy research centers: Perry World House, which opened in September, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, announced in February.

In her convocation speech, Gutmann asked the Class to consider the importance of “choosing well [and] wisely,” and encouraged them to join her in previewing “the future of innovative choices” at the October opening of the Pennovation Center. This state-of-the-art facility has provided a fertile environment for many Penn-generated innovations, such as the smallest self-powered controllable flying vehicle in the world and projects under development by the winners of the President’s Innovation Prize.

The year was marked by an abundance of innovations across campus, many of which targeted the prevention and treatment of disease. These include the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS) located at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center campus; a new Zika vaccine candidate developed by researchers at Penn Medicine; and this year’s Silfen Forum, which convened a panel of experts together with Gutmann and former Vice President Joe Biden, who headed up the Cancer Moonshot initiative, to discuss advancements in the fight against cancer.

The year came to a close with Penn’s 261st Commencement, where speaker Cory Booker, U.S. Senator from New Jersey, called upon the Class of 2017 to “not just change the world, but make a world of change”—a call that many of the graduates will heed in the weeks, months, and years to come. Among them were this year’s President’s Engagement Prize winners, poised to design and undertake public service projects for which they were well-prepared, thanks to wise choices made over their course of time at Penn.

Photo at top: Penn President Amy Gutmann delivers her convocation address to the incoming Class of 2020.

  • Text by Christina Cook
  • Video by Rebecca Abboud and Denise Henhoeffer