Penn's 1996 Baccalaureate Speaker is The Right Reverend Barbara Clementine Harris, a Philadelphian who was the first woman ever to become a bishop in the Anglican Communion. Bishop Harris entered the priesthood after a long and successful career in public and community relations in Philadelphia between 1949 and 1977. On graduation from the Charles Morris Price School she joined Joseph V. Baker Associates Inc and rose to president. She also held senior posts with the Sun Company from 1968 until 1977, when she began her theological studies at Villanova University. Studying later at the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield, England, she then graduated from the Pennsylvania Foundation for Pastoral Counseling, and was ordained a deacon in 1979 and a priest in 1980.
Before she was consecrated a bishop in 1989, she had been Priest-in-Charge of St. Augustine of Hippo in Norristown, serving also as as a prison chaplain and as counsel to industrial corporations for public policy issues and social concerns. Named executive director of the Episcopal Church Publishing Company in 1984, she was also publisher of The Witness, and she held the additional post of interim rector of Philadelphia's Church of the Advocate in 1988. Bishop Harris is a member of the Union of Black Episcopalians, and among other activities she represents the national Episcopal Church on the board of the Prisoner Visitation and Support Committee, and is vice president of Episcopal City Mission of the Diocese of Massachusetts.