Orientations Resume In-Person, Bringing 1st Large Group of Students Back to Campus

Big Blue Nation Orientation is underway at the University of Kentucky. Here's what you can expect.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 12, 2021) — COVID-19 rocked the nation, and the University of Kentucky was no exception. While the university did its best as a community to keep things as normal as possible for students, many on-campus activities were altered to follow CDC guidelines. 

One of the activities impacted was orientation. Once a large, in-person event, orientation was moved to an online platform to keep the campus community safe. 

As the university begins its transition to normal, orientation will, once again, take place in person. 

Big Blue Nation (BBN) Orientation kicked off last week, welcoming hundreds of future Wildcats to the Bluegrass to explore UK’s campus, meet their peers, hear from campus offices and organizations, meet with advisors and register for Fall 2021 classes.

Taylor Blair, director of orientation and outreach, says he and his team were thrilled to open campus to students for orientation.

“This team has been counting down to hosting students on campus,” Blair said. “Hosting our newest Wildcats means letting them see what it means to be a student here, physically on this campus — in this space — among the same students they will call their peers, roommates and friends in the fall.”

The one-day orientation will take place over the course of six hours and will begin with a welcome ceremony at 10 a.m. Following the ceremony, students will break into small group meetings while parents and guests participate in a presentation on what their students can expect during the upcoming semester. 

After the break for lunch, students will have the opportunity to meet with advisors, sit in interest sessions to learn about campus resources and connect with their academic college. 

In the evening, students and guests can choose to experience the UK Federal Credit Union Esports Lounge, view a film in Worsham Cinema or even stay on campus in Jewell Hall, chatting with an incredible group of 14 orientation leaders.

While classes and activities have shifted back to in-person, to accommodate students and their families, online orientations will still be available. 

“We want to meet students and families where they are,” Blair said. “Students participating in the virtual orientations still have the opportunity to hear from offices dedicated to student success and wellness through the resource fairs and speed meeting sessions. These offices and programs have invested countless hours to both in-person and virtual opportunities for freshman and transfer students.” 

Ensuring a smooth transition from high school to college, BBN Orientation is one of the most exciting periods of the year for incoming students, their families and staff and faculty throughout campus. Re-emerging from an unprecedented year, the campus community has worked tirelessly to provide new students with an experience that they will remember for a lifetime. 

The goal from the president last spring was to emerge from this pandemic better than when we entered, and this was a goal of this orientation office, too,” Blair said. “We recognized early this year that these summer BBN Orientations would be among the first large events the Class of 2025 participated in since their junior year. That matters a lot to this team and to our orientation leaders.”

"I hope that every student can take away from their experience — whether virtual or in-person — that UK has emerged from this crisis thriving so that they have every opportunity and resource to succeed. I hope that these Wildcats leave with new friends, relationships with mentors they can call on and an unwavering eagerness to move-in and begin their first day of classes in August.”

For more information on BBN Orientation, visit https://orientation.uky.edu/

To see what incoming students have in store at this year’s orientation, watch the video above.

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Students at orientation.
Students at orientation

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.