A Message to Penn Undergraduates

September 1, 2020

Welcome to the first day of classes! The Penn community, in this unusual year, is as innovative, resilient, and creative as ever. We are interconnected across the country and around the world. We did not choose the conditions of this semester – yet our extraordinary Penn students and faculty are already making the most of it, bringing to virtual learning the same rigor, passion, and engagement that we look forward to seeing back on our campus as soon as possible.

We are doing – and will continue to do – everything we can to support you and your educational experiences this semester. On the academic front, as we announced last month, you have the option to take any or all of your courses pass/fail this semester. We have also now finalized the virtual shopping period – until September 15, you can link directly to a course’s Canvas site (if the instructor has published one) from the course description in Course Search. The Center for Undergraduate Research and  Fellowships is providing multiple ways to stay engaged with research opportunities, with virtual information sessions; a comprehensive directory of faculty interested in research mentoring, including remote mentoring; and a new Canvas site to learn more about research at Penn and beyond.

At the same time, we want to make sure that you can continue to connect with each other, form virtual communities, and stay engaged in your campus activities. All of our vibrant cultural resource centers will hold Zoom open houses this month, and we have now launched the dynamic Penn Clubs platform – designed by our brilliant undergraduate students in Penn Labs – which will help you explore and interact with more than 700 student-run clubs. You can use tags and filters to find varied clubs, talk to club members, and learn more about new clubs through the recommendation algorithm. Today through Thursday, you can visit and talk live online with clubs on the Penn Clubs platform, from 5-8 pm each day, at a virtual Student Activities Fair.

We also are proud to launch the Year of Civic Engagement. We encourage you, wherever you are, to engage with your community in ways that are meaningful to you. Throughout the year, as we began in New Student Orientation this past week, we will offer programs and initiatives to further our goals of civic engagement, both in this historic year and in re-energizing our communities in the years ahead. Please join us in starting the year by watching our Year of Civic Engagement video, which shows you more about how students and faculty advance civic engagement at Penn and in our Philadelphia community.

We wish you all a great first week of classes, and we will continue to keep you updated as the semester moves forward.


President Amy Gutmann

Provost Wendell Pritchett

Last Updated 09/01/2020 - 16:35