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KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee Knoxville alumna and country music star Deana Carter will headline the University of Tennessee’s new Kickoff to Commencement celebration set for 6-8 p.m., May 9, on the Joe Johnson/John Ward Pedestrian Mall on campus.

Deana Carter
Deana Carter
The Kickoff event is open to spring and summer graduates, their families and UT employees. A committee of students and staff has been planning this alternative to the university-wide commencement ceremony as a way to inaugurate the series of college-based graduations and offer a great mix of UT’s traditions and fun.

Kickoff to Commencement will precede UT’s individual academic college ceremonies and hooding ceremonies held May 9, 10 and 11.

The event was suggested by student leaders as an alternative to the university-wide commencement ceremony, which cannot be held this spring due to ongoing renovations in the Thompson-Boling Assembly Center and Arena.

At the request of the Student Government Association, the event will begin with the revival of a UT tradition, Aloha Oe. The candlelight ceremony for seniors signifies their continuing journey and reminds them of their pledge to serve the university and their community. All graduates are encouraged to attend and gather at the Torchbearer at 5:30 p.m. to be part of the renewal of this meaningful ceremony.

The Kickoff program and concert will begin at 6 p.m. and a casual dinner will be served. Graduates also will receive gifts on a first-come, first-served basis along with a few other surprises.

Carter’s concert will take place in the Humanities amphitheater. She plans to share some of her own UT memories with the graduates throughout the performance.

Carter’s debut album, “Did I Shave My Legs for This?” won five CMA nominations, a Grammy nomination and award for CMA Song of the Year with “Strawberry Wine.” Since then, Carter has been named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” and Newsweek’s “100 Newsmakers for the New Century.” She has released six albums, appeared on several movie soundtracks and toured extensively across the United States and abroad. She is currently working on a new album set for release in September.

Attendance at the college ceremonies, which began in 2004, is continuing to grow. Students say they appreciate the smaller, more personal setting and the involvement of faculty and traditions of their own colleges. The academic college ceremony schedule is listed below.

Wednesday, May 9
Veterinary Medicine Hooding: 8 p.m., Alumni Memorial Auditorium. Contact Dr. James Brace (865) 974-7263

Thursday, May 10
Engineering: 9 a.m., Convention Center/Exhibit Hall B. Contact Angela McCarter (865) 974-2454 or visit
Communication and Information Sciences: 9:30 a.m., Convention Center/Exhibit Hall A. Contact Sherry McNair (865) 974-1540 or visit
Honors Program: 10 a.m., University Center Ballroom. Contact Mary Ann Bright (865)974-7875.
Audiology and Speech Pathology: 11 a.m., Alumni Memorial Auditorium. Contact Patricia Visser (865) 974-5019
Education, Health and Human Sciences: 2 p.m., Convention Center/Exhibit Hall A. Contact Glenda Noe (865) 974-5063 or visit
Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources: 2:30 p.m., Convention Center/Exhibit Hall B. Contact Angie Berry (865) 974-7303
Nursing: 3 p.m., Alumni Memorial Auditorium. Contact Missy Raby (865) 974-7583
Architecture and Design: 4 p.m., Hooding Ceremony for undergraduate and graduate students, Clarence Brown Theater. Contact Karen Lowe (865) 974-5265
Graduate Hooding: 6 p.m., Convention Center/Exhibit Hall A

Friday, May 11
Arts and Sciences: Social Sciences, 8:30 a.m., Convention Center/Exhibit Hall A. Contact Heather Cockrum (865) 974-4377 or visit
Social Work: 10 a.m., Alumni Memorial Building Auditorium. Contact Natalie Crippen (865) 974-3353
Arts and Sciences: Humanities and Natural Sciences, 11:30 a.m., Convention Center/Exhibit Hall A. Contact Heather Cockrum (865) 974-4377 or visit
Business Administration: 3 p.m., Convention Center/Exhibit Hall A. Contact Tara Norris (865)974-2341
Law: 6 p.m., Ballroom/Convention Center. Contact Teresa Peterson (865) 974-6784 or visit

Special parking and shuttle arrangements will be provided to support the college ceremonies and hoodings scheduled on May 9, 10 and 11. Graduates and their guests may park free in university student parking areas throughout the campus. For more detailed parking information, visit

For more information on commencement ceremonies, visit or contact the university registrar’s office at (865) 974-2101.

For more information on Kickoff to Commencement, visit or contact Beth Gladden at (865) 974-2225 or

Beth Gladden, (865) 974-9008 or