About Alumni Relations

Penn Alumni Relations


Seeking to engage all Penn alumni in a mutually beneficial, lifelong connection to each other, their school, and the University, and encourage alumni support and guidance to advance Penn’s eminence for future generations.

PENN ALUMNI: Demographics, History, Purpose, and Structure

Penn Alumni is the formal name for our family of over 290,000 living Penn graduates. Of these, the split of undergraduate degree (52.5%) and graduate degree holders (47.5%) is fairly even. Most alumni reside in the U.S., but Penn does have over 23,000 alumni living abroad. Not surprisingly, the largest geographic concentration of our alumni is in the greater Philadelphia area with over 67,000. The metro NY area has over 46,000 alumni in residence, and Baltimore/ Washington has about 13,000 supporters of the Red and Blue. Boston and San Francisco hold the number four and five spots for most alumni with 10,100 and 9,500, respectively.

In 1895 the various alumni organizations at Penn (the clubs, the class, and the school societies, then known as departmental societies) joined together in a federation they named the “General Alumni Society,” which was renamed the “University of Pennsylvania Alumni Society” in 1998 and then branded as Penn Alumni in 2003.

The objects and purposes of Penn Alumni are to promote the interest and welfare of the University of Pennsylvania and its alumni; to inspire, develop and maintain the interest of the alumni in the University; to help alumni keep alive the friendships, associations and interests they formed as students at Pennsylvania; to foster giving to the University; to maintain close cooperation among alumni, officers and Trustees of the University and to establish a medium through which the alumni may support and advance the cause of higher education by the University; all of the foregoing to be consistent with the policies established by the Trustees of the University.

The Penn Alumni governance structure consists of three parts: the Council of Representatives, the Board of Directors, and the Executive Committee. The Council of Representatives, approximately 275 in number, is a microcosm of Penn Alumni and has representation from all organized constituencies of the alumni. The management of Penn Alumni is vested in the Board of Directors, approximately 65 in number, who conduct the business of Penn Alumni under its By-Laws. Finally, an Executive Committee of 9 members has the power to operate with the full power of the Board between Board meetings; the Committee’s actions, however, must be approved by the Board at its next meeting.


Fourteen of the University’s trustees are nominated and elected through procedures established and administered by Penn Alumni. These alumni trustees reflect the overall diversity of Penn’s alumni population. The president of Penn Alumni, Julie Beren Platt, C’79 also serves as an alumni trustee and in this capacity sits on the Trustees’ Executive Committee.


The Penn Traditions program is a comprehensive approach to student and young alumni development/alumni relations programming, with the objective of creating early understanding and awareness of Penn’s institutional mission, history and traditions, the partnership financing higher education, University goals, and the role of alumni and students within the greater Penn community. The program’s inaugural event for freshmen, “Highball to Hey Day: The Penn Experience” was held in February 2004 and programming for all four undergraduate classes and graduate/professional students has been ongoing. The event that serves to officially welcome the senior class into alumnihood is called “The Final Toast” and is celebrated concurrently with “Hey Day.” The program is designed to:

• Cultivate a lifelong relationship with our students
• Teach students about Penn’s rich history and diverse traditions
• Foster tradition and pride
• Promote and inspire class unity
• Offer opportunities for direct communication between students and alumni
• Educate students about our institutional strengths and challenges in preparation for their lifelong role as alumni
• Keep young alumni engaged and connected to Penn after graduation

The engagement and participation of Penn’s youngest undergraduate alumni, those 0-15 years from graduation, is strategically important. yPenn, bridges the Penn Traditions program to the young alumni years; working hand-in-hand with the leaders of the Making History Campaign to deliberately engage young alumni, yPenn is a c collaboration among Alumni Relations, The Penn Fund, and Programs and Special Events.

yPenn seeks to:
• Bolster the attendance of young Penn alumni at university events
• Create new volunteer opportunities for young Penn alumni
• Increase The Penn Fund participation among young Penn alumni
• Develop a network of future university leaders within the young Penn alumni community
• Continue to strengthen the lifelong relationship young Penn alumni have with the university


In order to facilitate for alumni a lifelong connection to the University characterized by intellectual and professional enrichment, the Director of Alumni Education, Travel and Career Networking has primary responsibility for the design, implementation, and marketing of educational programs that engage alumni around the world. The Director works closely with Alumni Relations staff across the University to leverage and promote existing educational and professional enrichment opportunities and to create new ones. This includes integrating Penn faculty, staff, and alumni experts into on campus and regional programming, as well as online content. The Penn Alumni Travel program offers Penn alumni and friends an opportunity to travel around the world on approximately thirty different trips each year. A new strategic goal of the program is to increase both the number of Penn affiliated passengers on each trip and the participation of both Penn staff hosts and Penn faculty on trips so that participants are engaged socially and intellectually with the University.


Alumni interviewers help high school students learn more about Penn, and they help the Admissions Office learn more about applicants to the university. Penn's alumni interviewers serve as ambassadors in their local communities, providing crucial assistance to the Undergraduate Admissions Office as they work to select the next generation of Penn students. Although members are involved in a variety of activities, the primary goal of the Penn Alumni Interview Program (formerly known as the Secondary School Committee) is to offer an interview to every student who applies as a prospective undergraduate.


The Classes & Reunions team works with a network of alumni volunteers who are involved with organizing class-focused initiatives and activities. Creates and manages programs and events involving and engaging alumni classes with particular emphasis on quinquennial reunions. Alumni are generally divided into three categories: Old Guard (classes 50 years and out), Core Alumni (20 to 50 years out), and Young Alumni (current students to 20 years out). The Classes and Reunions team also coordinates the two largest alumni events: Homecoming and Alumni Weekend.


From Philadelphia to Hong Kong, the Regional Club team coordinates a world-wide network of alumni volunteers providing year-round intellectual, cultural, social, and networking events. The team serves as a resource to the alumni volunteer club leadership around the nation and abroad to communicate between the University and local alumni, and among the alumni themselves. At the end of 2012, the Regional Clubs included 67 domestic clubs and 55 international clubs.


The Multicultural Outreach team in Alumni Relations works to encourage alumni of color and LGBT alumni to find and maintain meaningful connections and active engagement with Penn. This staff team works closely with the Co-Chairs as well as the leaders of each member organization in the Penn Alumni Diversity Alliance, made up of groups that center on culturally-focused alumni affiliation and interaction, as well as intercultural collaboration. The Multicultural Outreach team also seeks to increase diverse alumni participation and leadership across the spectrum of other Penn Alumni activities and organizations by working with the Global Alumni Network, Penn Traditions, yPenn, Classes & Reunions and Alumni Education teams. Penn Spectrum, a weekend long conference dedicated to diversity and community, is managed by this team. Finally, this team generates new opportunities for diverse alumni to interact based on a common interest, such as the performing arts at an Annenberg Center performance, or student outreach at a Multicultural Student Leadership Reception.


  • Association of Alumnae – Founded in 1912, the Association of Alumnae is committed to strengthening the relationship between the University of Pennsylvania and its alumnae and to promote the interests and welfare of the University in areas of concern to women. All Penn women graduates are members of the Association of Alumnae and are welcome to join its Board.
  • Penn Alumni Diversity Alliance – Comprised of the Association of Latino Alumni (ALA), the Association of Native Alumni (ANA), the Black Alumni Society (BAS), the James Brister Society (JBS), the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alumni Association (PennGALA), and the University of Pennsylvania Asian Alumni Network (UPAAN), the Penn Alumni Diversity Alliance organizations work individually and collectively to engage Penn’s diverse alumni and celebrate cultural identity and partnership.
    • Association of Latino Alumni - founded in 1999, ALA promotes the interests of Latino students and alumni. ALA encourages Latino alumni to avail themselves of Penn's resources for a lifetime of education and enrichment, while facilitating their re-connection to one another and the University community.
    • Association of Native Alumni – founded in 2006, ANA promotes the interests and welfare of Native American alumni, strengthens and deepens friendships, encourages active recruitment and retention of Native faculty and students and furthers Penn's commitment to the advancement of Native American higher education.
    • Black Alumni Society - founded in 1982, with regional chapters in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC, BAS encourages communication and cooperation among black alumni, black students, and the University community.
    • James Brister Society - founded in 1993, JBS is an organization comprised of diverse alumni leaders. These leaders, by power of their example, support and promote Penn's efforts to attract, encourage, and maintain a culturally diverse community of faculty, students, administrators, staff, and volunteers, thus enriching the University community as a whole. The society is named in honor of James Brister, an 1881 graduate of the Dental School.
    • University of Pennsylvania Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alumni Association - founded as an informal organization in 1984, PennGALA became an official part of the University's Alumni Society in 1999. PennGALA supports the family of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender alumni and promotes their interests at Penn.
    • University of Pennsylvania Asian Alumni Network - founded in 2001, UPAAN is committed to developing and maintaining an international network for Asian Pacific Islander alumni and students. UPAAN's mission is to inspire, develop, and nurture the interests of its constituents with the University.

  • Trustees’ Council of Penn Women (TCPW) – Founded in 1987, TCPW is a national network of Penn alumnae who support, foster and promote the advancement of women's issues with the University. Membership in the Trustees' Council of Penn Women is through a nomination process and is limited to 170 Penn alumnae.


Penn Shared Interest Groups are groups of 50 or more alumni who share common interests arising from their Penn co-curricular activities or professional career experience and desire to affiliate with each other as a subgroup of Penn Alumni. Shared Interest Groups actively engage in communicating and/or gathering around a central unifying purpose, mission, background or activity beyond class affiliation, cultural affiliation or regional proximity.


The primary communication vehicle for Penn Alumni is The Pennsylvania Gazette, the official alumni magazine of the University of Pennsylvania. Published six times per year, it has the widest circulation of any regularly produced campus publication (~240,000). The magazine carries features; letters to the editor; and news about the University, the faculty, the students, and alumni.


Coordinates the production and distribution of Penn Alumni and Alumni Relations communication vehicles such as web sites, guides, newsletters, podcasts, invitations, and other print and electronic materials, e.g., Proudly Penn (annual alumni resource guide), Red & Blue Online (bi-monthly electronic newsletter), and the “Homecoming Guide” and “Alumni Weekend Guide.” M&C also manages and works to enhance all Penn Alumni social networking and currently are active with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Frankly Penn blog, Instagram, Storify, LinkedIn, YouTube and mobile apps.


Penn’s Alumni Online Community is your personal alumni address book, networking tool and much more. Use it to find friends and update your own contact information with Penn. In addition, Penn Alumni has an active presence in all major social media with thounsands of alumni connecting through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and iTunesU. In addition, Penn Alumni’s daily blog entitled Frankly Penn has new content daily.


The Alumni Award of Merit Gala, sponsored by Penn Alumni, is a celebration of Penn's most passionate and dedicated alumni volunteers. These awards are given for outstanding service to the University of Pennsylvania. The Alumni Award of Merit and Young Alumni recipients are chosen by Penn Alumni's Awards & Resolutions Committee, which is comprised of former winners. The Club Award recipient is chosen by the Global Alumni Network Advisory Board. The Class Award recipients are chosen by the Alumni Class Leadership Council.

In keeping with the Arts at Penn theme for Homecoming festivities, in 2009, the Alumni Award of Merit Gala featured a new award: the Penn Creative Spirit Award. This award is meant to recognize a member of the Penn community who has illustrated a life-long commitment to the arts through outstanding personal achievements and/or philanthropic support. The award was created as part of Penn's heightened commitment to promoting its arts and culture offerings, through the 2009 academic theme "Arts and the City" and the re-conceptualized Homecoming Weekend.


Located at 3533 Locust Walk overlooking College Green, the Alumni House building dates back to 1914 when it was constructed as a fraternity house. Renovated with funds donated by individuals and organizations, it became the permanent home of the alumni program in 1982. It was dedicated in honor of E. Craig Sweeten, W’37, the University’s first vice president for development and public relations.

The Alumni House is home to Penn Alumni, the Office of Alumni Relations and the Penn Alumni Interview Program. The offices of The Pennsylvania Gazette are located at 3910 Chestnut Street. The Sweeten Alumni House also offers facilities which University staff, alumni, and outside organizations can reserve for a fee for functions, meetings, and private parties.