Campus News

Bradley Hall Flags Show Breadth of UK Community


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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 17, 2014) — The flags displayed on Bradley Hall serve as much more than a decoration identifying the UK International Center (UKIC). The flags also represent the home countries of UK's international students, who hail from more than 120 countries.

“Flags are such an important symbol of national identity and pride; and the array of flags reminds all passers-by about the multi-national nature of our student body,” said Susan Carvalho, associate provost for internationalization. “They are a colorful reminder that we all come together from different political and historical contexts, and we retain those identities even while we assume a collective identity as a global UK community.”

Russ Brannon, who was the first director of the Office of International Affairs (now UKIC) from 1986 to 1994, created the infrastructure to hang and store the flags.

“We found a place in Louisville that sold the flags,” Brannon said. “My colleague and I attached metal flag holders on the exterior walls of Bradley Hall. I then built a wooden frame where the flags ‘rested’ every night.”  

Brannon’s flag holders remain in use today, the flags are still purchased from the same company – Walker Flags – and his wooden frames continue to provide a home for the flags.

There are 29 flag holders on Bradley Hall and approximately 166 different flags, which are rotated every three months – it takes over a year and a half for all of the flags to be flown.

The flags however are not without some controversy.

“Shortly after the first ‘flying of the flags’ I received a phone call requesting that the Vietnamese flag be taken down,” said Brannon. “I advised that if a student were studying on our campus, his/her national flag would be flying irrespective of political feelings of the moment. We also received many very positive calls, along the lines of ‘the flags make UK look like a genuine international university.’”

To prevent further disputes UKIC developed a policy to only fly the flags of countries that are recognized by the U.S. State Department.

According to Laura Anschel, who managed the flags from 2009-2012, UKIC gets many requests from international students to hang their country’s flag.

“I was surprised by how important it is to the international students to see their flag on Bradley,” said Anschel. “Students who hadn't seen their flag flying in a while would often request that it be flown. I really enjoyed providing this service to the students because it helps them know that they are a part of the UK community.”

The Bradley Hall flags hold particularly special meaning this week, as UK celebrates International Education Week, an annual, joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. International Education Week serves to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.

UKIC is hosting variety of events to celebrate the week, throughout November 17-21. Click here to view the full schedule.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Geegan, (859) 257-5365;