Campus News

Watch Live: The May 2021 UK Commencement Ceremonies

Watch live at 9 a.m. and noon as UK celebrates its graduates. Ensure your device's software is up to date.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2021) — Beginning today, the University of Kentucky will honor its graduates at the first in-person Commencement Ceremonies to take place in nearly 18 months.

Around 4,400 graduates registered to participate across 10 ceremonies May 14-16, in Rupp Arena. About 1,000 of those are 2020 graduates who were also invited to take part in the 2021 ceremony, after not having an in-person ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall 5,173 degree candidates were conferred for approval by the UK Board of Trustees last week. This includes 3,599 undergraduate, 1,085 graduate and 489 professional degree candidates for May 2021.*

Ceremonies include:

Ceremony 1

9 a.m. Friday, May 14

  • College of Education
  • College of Medicine

Ceremony 2

Noon Friday, May 14

  • College of Fine Arts
  • College of Public Health
  • College of Social Work
  • College of Pharmacy

Ceremony 3

3 p.m. Friday, May 14

  • College of Nursing
  • College of Health Sciences
  • College of Design

Ceremony 4

6 p.m. Friday, May 14

  • College of Engineering

Ceremony 5

9 a.m. Saturday, May 15

  • College of Arts and Sciences 1

Ceremony 6

Noon Saturday, May 15

  • College of Arts and Sciences 2

Ceremony 7

3 p.m. Saturday, May 15

  • Gatton College of Business and Economics 1

Ceremony 8

6 p.m. Saturday, May 15

  • Gatton College of Business and Economics 2

Ceremony 9

9 a.m. Sunday, May 16

  • College of Communication and Information
  • Martin School of Public Policy and Administration and Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce 

Ceremony 10

Noon Sunday, May 16

  • College of Agriculture, Food and Environment

All 10 ceremonies will be livestreamed on UK’s YouTube channel, which will be accessible this weekend via the UKNow homepage.

Graduate Stories

While all graduates are celebrated for their tremendous achievements, many have particularly interesting stories to share about their lives and time at UK. Read more stories about UK's May 2021 graduates.

Honorary Degrees

The Board of Trustees has approved honorary degrees for four citizens who have distinguished themselves in their careers and community service. The recipients are W. Harry Clarke, F. Joseph Halcomb III, Deirdre Lyons and Carl F. Pollard. 

Clarke, Halcomb and Lyons will receive their honorary doctorates during this weekend’s ceremonies. Pollard, who is unable to attend, will be honored at a later date.

Honorary degrees will be presented at the following ceremonies:

  • W. Harry Clarke: noon Friday, May 14
  • F. Joseph Halcomb: 6 p.m. Friday, May 14
  • Deirdre Lyons: noon Sunday, May 16

Read more about the May 2021 honorary degree recipients.

Student Speakers

Five student representatives have been selected by UK President Eli Capilouto to address the audiences at two ceremonies each. Given limitations on the number of people allowed on the stage, the speeches have been pre-recorded.

The speakers include:

  • Sy Bridenbaugh, from Richmond, Kentucky, who will speak at the 9 a.m. and noon ceremonies Friday, May 14. He is graduating with a doctoral degree in educational policy studies and evaluation from the UK College of Education.
  • Lauren Sammons, from Gurnee, Illinois, who will speak at the 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. ceremonies Friday, May 14. She is graduating with a bachelor's degree in clinical leadership and management in the College of Health Sciences, with minors in Spanish and health advocacy.
  • Bilal Shaikh, from Louisville, Kentucky, who will speak at the 9 a.m. and noon ceremonies Saturday, May 15. He is graduating with a bachelor's degree in political science from the UK College of Arts and Sciences. He is also a student in the Lewis Honors College.
  • Abbi Woodcock, from Bowling Green, Kentucky, who will speak at the 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. ceremonies Saturday, May 15. She is graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics from the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics. She is also a student in the Lewis Honors College.
  • Cameron French, from Wolfe County, Kentucky, who will speak at the 9 a.m. and noon ceremonies Sunday, May 16. He is graduating with a bachelor's degree in community leadership and development from the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment with a minor in political sciences.

Read more about the student speakers here.

Full video of each ceremony will be available within two weeks after Commencement on the university’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/universityofkentucky.

Social media users are encouraged to use the hashtag #UKgrad.

For more information about UK Commencement, visit www.uky.edu/commencement.

*These numbers reflect degree candidates, not individual graduates (some graduates earn more than one degree, thereby being counted as a degree candidate multiple times). Degrees will be certified by the UK registrar, ensuring individuals have satisfactorily completed all requirements. The most up-to-date information is available through UK and Institutional Research, Analytics and Decision Support.

photo of commencement
UK will celebrate its graduates May 14-16. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.