The University Chapel, photographed on Feb. 23, 2021.
Princeton University, Office of Communications, Denise Applewhite

One year ago in late February, more than 1,000 alumni congregated on campus safely to celebrate Alumni Day. This year, the annual celebration was canceled, save for the Service of Remembrance.

As a way to recognize alumni contributions to the world, a slate of programming in the ongoing Forward Fest lineup aired live Feb. 20, featuring two online alumni panels on resilience and exploration. Hundreds tuned in live and thousands more watched on-demand on the University’s YouTube channel, according to Erika Knudson, director of advancement communications.

The Service of Remembrance, a memorial service for alumni, faculty, and staff whose deaths were recorded in 2020, took place virtually for the first time, and the pre-recorded event was shared more than 1,500 times. More than 221 remembrances were added to the virtual memorial board ( by mid-March, with more coming in each week, according to Knudson.

The yearly gathering typically includes top alumni awards: the Woodrow Wilson Award to an undergraduate alum, and the James Madison Medal to a graduate alum; both recipients give addresses. This year, award recipients were not named.