Penn Dental Medicine Celebrates Class of 2020 with Virtual Ceremony


Philadelphia – Penn Dental Medicine celebrated the achievements of Class of 2020 on May 18 with a virtual commencement ceremony, bringing together family, friends, and the Penn Dental Medicine community even though apart. More than 1,200 individuals joined the live stream of the School’s ceremony, which was part of a University-wide celebration of graduates.

This year marks Penn Dental Medicine’s 142rd commencement; earning their degrees as part of the Class of 2020 are 157 DMD graduates, 14 Master of Science in Oral Biology graduates, and four students receiving their Doctor of Science in Dentistry degrees.

“The Class of 2020 is truly a magnificent group of men and woman,” says Penn Dental Medicine Dean Mark Wolff. “The strength and resilience they demonstrated as they concluded their time at Penn Dental Medicine during these unprecedented times speaks volumes for the success that lies ahead for them.”

The ceremony featured live streaming of remarks by Dean Mark Wolff and Class of 2020 President Dr. Steven Roo, who also shared a Class video. Dr. Steven Perelman, Global Clinical Advisor and Founder of Special Olympics Special Smiles and Clinical Professor of Pediatric Dentistry at Boston University Goldman School of Medicine, was this year’s commencement speaker. Captain Sean Meehan, Dean of the Naval Postgraduate Dental School and a 1992 graduate of the Penn Dental Medicine, also spoke, representing and acknowledging those members of the Class going on to military service.

Dr. Uri Hangorsky, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, and Dr. Bekir Karabucak, Director of the Division of Advanced Dental Education, also took part of the ceremony, announcing the DMD and postdoctoral graduates, respectively.

The awarding of diplomas was a unique combination of historic tradition and digital technology. To add to the virtual experience, an augmented reality app powered by Apple Reality Composer and Lens Studio, allowed students to “receive” their diplomas virtually from Dean Wolff. Through the app, students in their full graduation regalia, could create a video in which their diploma appeared in their hands as their names were read. (View some highlights from the diploma presentations >>) To promote interaction and enable the Class members to document this special event for themselves and their friends and family, students were able to create photos and videos of themselves with their diplomas to share via their iPhones and iPads using Apple’s Reality Composer program.

“We wanted to make this celebration as special as possible under these unique circumstances,” says Margaret Yang, Director of Student Affairs. “Our IT and Learning Technologies teams came together to help create a unique virtual experience for our graduates and their families and friends.”

View the full commencement ceremony >>

A commissioning ceremony led by Captain Meehan for those members of the Class of 2020 entering military service as held after the commencement program. View the commissioning ceremony >>