A celebration of Penn's dedicated alumni volunteers, the black-tie Alumni Award of Merit Gala, held the Friday evening of Homecoming Weekend, honors alumni and their achievements of outstanding service to the University of Pennsylvania. 

Held on Halloween, the 80th Annual Award of Merit Gala welcomed alumni and guests to the Annenberg Centers’ Zellerbach Theatre in celebration of the honorees’ passion and dedication to Penn. 

“We are here tonight to honor individuals who are the personification of engaged volunteer leadership,” said Penn Alumni President Julie Beren Platt, C’79. “These are exceptional alumni who share a common purpose: To advance the mission of our great University, today and for future generations.” 

The 2014 Alumni Award of Merit honorees include John C. T. Alexander, W’56, the voice of Franklin Field for 50 years and longtime President of the Class of 1956; William L. Derby, C’61, WG’65, President of the Class of 1961, valued member of the Alumni Class Leadership Council and a Chair of its Class Awards Committee, and longtime scholarship donor; James S. Riepe, W’65, WG’67, HON’10, Chairman of Penn’s Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2009, founding member of the Penn Medicine Board of Trustees and Chairman of that board from 2009 to 2011, and longtime supporter of Penn scholarships and student life; and Denise Green Winner, W’83, Co-President of Penn’s Southern California Regional Advisory Board, member of the Gift Committee Executive Vice-President of the Class of 1983, member of the Penn Alumni Board of Directors and Trustees’ Council of Penn Women, and mentor for young alumni.

Other honorees include Young Alumni Award recipients Nicole Oddo, C’05, and Warren Wang, ENG’00, W’00; Creative Spirit Award recipient Richard Saul Wurman, AR’58, GAR’59; the Class of 1989, which received the Class Award of Merit; the Class of 2009, which received the David N. Tyre Award for Excellence in Class Communications; and the Penn Alumni Club of Westchester & Rockland Counties, which received the Alumni Club Award of Merit.

The Alumni Award of Merit and Young Alumni Award recipients are chosen by Penn Alumni's Awards & Resolutions Committee, which is comprised of former winners. The Club Award recipient is chosen by the Regional Clubs Advisory Board, and the Class Award recipients are chosen by the Alumni Class Leadership Council. 

Penn Alumni is accepting nominations for the 2015 Alumni Award of Merit and Young Alumni Award through February 6, 2015. Click here to read more about requirements and to submit a nomination.

See pictures from the 80th Annual Alumni Award of Merit Gala on Phanfare, or watch more videos from the event, including welcome messages from Penn President Amy Gutmann and David L. Cohen, L’81, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and the honorees’ acceptance speeches.

To hear what it means to be honored at the Alumni Award of Merit Gala from some of the honorees themselves, watch the video