Campus News

UK dedicates Alumni Commons

Mark Cornelison | UK Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 29, 2023) — Today, the University of Kentucky dedicated Alumni Commons, a new social gathering space in the heart of campus. The $9 million development project is located between Columbia Avenue and Huguelet Drive. 

“UK leadership has tried to address safety concerns regarding pedestrians on Rose Street for many decades," said UK President Eli Capilouto. “This new, beautiful space not only offers a solution, but provides another way for our campus community to gather. I am thankful for the UK Alumni Association for making the lead gift that catapulted this endeavor and for their dedication to improving this area.”

In June 2022, the UK Board of Trustees accepted a $3 million pledge from the UK Alumni Association to establish a capital project fund named the “UKAA Rose Street Plaza Beautification Fund.” The fund supports the design, demolition, construction, renovation, expansion and other costs related to the Rose Street Plaza corridor project on the university’s campus.

“As an alumna, I am thrilled to see our institution embrace its rich history while forging a brighter future,” said Jill Smith, associate vice president for alumni engagement and executive director of the UK Alumni Association. “Alumni Commons embodies the spirit of connection and growth and is a testament to the bond between our alumni and their alma mater.”

Spanning more than five acres across campus, the area includes terraced lawn seating, a water feature, teaching areas, double-swings, patio and garden areas, and other installations. The dedication wall reads, “Alumni Commons is dedicated to our alumni family, reflecting the deep and resounding appreciation that the University of Kentucky holds for its graduates.”

“Our time as students lasts just a few short years, but we remain Wildcats for life,” said Janie McKenzie-Wells, 2023-24 president of the UK Alumni Association. “Alumni Commons will be the place that can unite Wildcats of all generations and backgrounds, from the past, present and future. It will foster connections, inspire memories and be a place for us to come back home and celebrate the tradition of what it means to be a Wildcat.” 

At each end of Alumni Commons, visitors will find signature gates displaying the name, “Alumni Commons.” The gates will remain closed throughout the year except during the UK Wildcat Welcome Festival, which welcomes new students to UK at the beginning of the academic year, and during Senior Week preceding the December and May UK Commencement ceremonies. Students will be encouraged to walk through the gates as new students and out as graduates.

“Alumni Commons creates an environment that enriches our experience as students,” said Jason Marcus, UK student body vice president. “The opportunity to utilize this space is endless, and I cannot wait to see what is wildly possible for the future of the Alumni Commons.” 

For more information, visit the Alumni Commons website at

A media kit with photos and video is available at  


Rose Street runs through the heart of the campus dividing the academic core from the William T. Young Library, the Jacobs Science Building, student recreation areas and recent campus housing. In 2012, the UK Alumni Association provided resources for Bowman, the Wildcat sculpture and the Wildcat Alumni Plaza. The association saw the transformed Rose Street Plaza corridor as an opportunity to create yet another iconic area of campus.

The association’s gift agreement provided naming rights to the new park and after extensive vetting with alumni, students and employees, the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors chose Alumni Commons as the preferred name. In September 2022, the UK Board of Trustees accepted the recommendation therefore naming the space Alumni Commons.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.