UK Happenings

UK Celebrates May 2020 Grads

photo of UK graduate
Beginning this week, the university and its colleges will honor the 2020 graduates in nontraditional ways, including a radio broadcast by WRFL, virtual ceremonies, special video messages and social media engagement. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 30, 2020) — As this nontraditional spring semester comes to an end, the University of Kentucky community is coming together to recognize and celebrate its May graduates in nontraditional ways. Beginning this week, the university and its colleges will honor the 2020 graduates with virtual ceremonies, special video and radio addresses, and social media engagement.

Please note, these celebrations are not a replacement for the traditional UK Commencement Ceremonies. While the May ceremonies have been postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the university is fully committed to honoring the May 2020 graduates at an appropriate time, when it can be done in a safe and healthy way for everyone. Our graduates have earned their moment to wear their graduation regalia and walk across a stage — a symbolic statement that they have worked hard for and certainly deserve. More information about the rescheduled ceremony will be communicated in the coming weeks.

But for now, UK will celebrate its graduates during what would have been the week leading up to Commencement, one of the university’s most cherished traditions. And while campus is mostly empty right now, various buildings will still light up blue next weekend, per tradition, in honor of the graduates.

WRFL Radio Honors the Graduates

From Sunday, May 3, through Saturday, May 9, UK’s student radio station WRFL 88.1 FM will host two broadcasts each day featuring the reading of all undergraduate, master’s, professional and doctoral students’ names who applied for a May 2020 or August 2020 degree.

Graduates, students, parents and other listeners can access the broadcasts via radio at 88.1 FM or via streaming from the WRFL website:

At 3 p.m. Saturday, May 9, UK President Eli Capilouto and UK Student Government Association President Michael Hamilton will give special addresses to the graduates. For more information and to see a full schedule, visit or

#UKGrad: Celebrate via Social Media

UK will highlight special graduate stories and messages from student leaders and President Capilouto on its social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) throughout the week. Graduates are encouraged to share their special moments at home by using UK’s traditional Commencement hashtag, #UKGrad.

On Facebook, graduates, parents and families are encouraged to upload special UK grad profile photo frames that have been created by the university. They can be found by going to and searching "UK grad.”

There will also be Instagram story frames available this week, and opportunities for graduates to engage with the university Instagram account by sharing their personal stories, saying farewell or just providing some encouraging words to fellow graduates.

College Celebrations

UK’s individual colleges and departments are also honoring their graduates in various ways, including special video messages, social media engagement and commemorative gifts. Learn more about each college’s plans below, or by contacting a college directly.

  • College of Agriculture, Food and Environment CAFE will present a congratulatory video for its graduates featuring alumni, faculty and Dean Nancy Cox. Graduates can also expect to receive a special gift in the mail, including a confetti launcher, a commemorative print and a business card holder. Departments within the college will have additional celebratory moments.  
  • College of Arts and Sciences Many of the college’s departments will host virtual celebrations, and the college will present a congratulatory video to its graduates next Friday with a special message from Dean Mark Kornbluh. For more information, visit  
  • Gatton College of Business and Economics The Gatton College will host a virtual senior celebration at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 9. This event will be livestreamed on Facebook with their names scrolled and video messages from the dean and faculty. Parents and families are encouraged to view the livestream. Seniors are encouraged to use the hashtag #GattonSeniors2020 for social posts the next two weeks. Seniors can also sign up to receive a free baseball hat that will be mailed to them in May.  
  • College of Communication and Information The college will hold virtual celebrations with video messaging for its departments on May 8. View a schedule here. The college will also turn over its social media channels in May to honor 2020 graduates with photos and memories.  
  • College of Dentistry The college will hold a ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 9, in the Kroger Field parking lot (Alumni Drive side). Graduates and their families are invited to park one space apart from each other (while staying inside their cars) and listen via radio broadcast to the dean and faculty deliver short speeches. A reading of graduates’ names will follow.  
  • College of Design Each program in the College of Design will hold its own virtual celebration with end-of-the-year awards. They have been collecting images of student work to post virtually, along with each awardee's name. This will be looped on the college’s website as it becomes available.  
  • College of Education Photos and quotes of College of Education graduates will be featured on the College of Education’s Instagram. There will also be a congratulatory video presented to their graduates.  
  • College of Engineering The college will host a virtual induction ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 7.  
  • College of Fine Arts Graduates will receive a digital card with video content from chairs and Dean Mark Shanda. They can also expect to receive a mailed card with a lapel pin that features their area of study on it.  
  • College of Health Sciences The college will hold a virtual ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday, May 8, featuring the dean and two student speakers. Graduates are encouraged to wear their cap and gowns during the Zoom call. A virtual yearbook is also being created, expected to go live by May 8. Individual departments will also host ceremonies.  
  • J. David Rosenberg College of Law​  The college will present a video tribute to its students, featuring photos of each 2020 graduate. The video will include messages from the dean, faculty and alumni.  
  • College of Medicine A video with messages from the dean and the vice dean will feature slides of each 2020 graduate. Graduates will also be acknowledged via social media.  
  • College of Nursing A video for graduating seniors will be released May 8. The video will include remarks from the dean, class president, a student speaker and an award announcement. Graduate students will have a Zoom celebration.  
  • College of Pharmacy An email and video message from the dean, faculty and staff will congratulate the May 2020 graduates. A digital program will be available May 8. The college is also making plans to honor its graduates at a future time.  
  • College of Public Health The college will host a virtual ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, May 8. The event will also include recognition of student and faculty award recipients.  
  • College of Social Work The college will recognize graduates with an honors and awards ceremony 3 p.m. Thursday, April 30. The event will stream live on the college’s YouTube channel. One student from the graduating cohort will be selected for the Outstanding Student award.  
  • Lewis Honors College The college will host a virtual awards ceremony and presentation of the Lewis Honors medallions to its students on May 7, featuring remarks by the dean. The medallions will then be mailed to the graduates.

These are unprecedented times, but the University of Kentucky is here to support its graduates — its future alumni — as they embark on their next journey. For more information about career services, graduates are encouraged to contact the Stuckert Career Center.

UK will always be a place its students and alumni can come back to and call home. For more information about keeping in contact with the university after graduation, contact the UK Alumni Association.

About the May 2020 Graduating Class

The UK Board of Trustees approved the conferral of 5,177 degrees at its meeting on May 5, including 3,700 undergraduate, 1,002 graduate and 475 professional degree candidates for May 2020. 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.

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.