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Traditionally, May is one of the most special times of the year at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Excited seniors and their families look forward to commencement, ready to celebrate graduates’ accomplishments and reflect on their incredible journeys.

Graduation is an important milestone that will have to look different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Although in-person commencement ceremonies in May had to be postponed for safety, UT will recognize graduates and their outstanding achievements over the next few weeks.

Upcoming celebrations are not a replacement for this year’s in-person commencement experience. UT plans to honor 2020 graduates on campus in person as soon as it’s safe.

“We felt it was important to do something special for our graduates in May, when they would normally walk across the stage,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “UT’s Class of 2020 graduates truly represent what it means to be a Volunteer with how they have supported each other and succeeded in the face of tremendous adversity. I’m incredibly proud of them, and I know their families and friends are as well.”

This spring, the university will award 4,625 degrees—3,415 undergraduate degrees and 1,014 graduate degrees and certificates, including 117 law degrees and 79 veterinary medicine degrees. Additionally, 14 Air Force cadets and 17 Army cadets will be commissioned.

“While we cannot be together in person to celebrate our graduates, it does not diminish their hard work and accomplishments,” said Provost David Manderscheid. “From finishing their courses online to defending dissertations over Zoom, our graduates have shown incredible resilience and flexibility that will serve them well no matter where their careers take them. We look forward to watching what they do next.”

Each college will launch a special web page to celebrate its graduates beginning May 7. Graduates were invited to submit a personalized slide highlighting their degree and academic honors. These slides can be downloaded, kept, or shared with family and friends on social media. Messages from the dean and other special guests will also be housed on these web pages, which will remain online for one year. Visit the commencement website beginning May 7 for links to each web page.

College web pages will be showcased individually on UT’s Facebook and Twitter channels (@UTKnoxville) on the date and time of each college’s original ceremony. Graduates and their family members are encouraged to post pictures and shout-outs on their college’s social media posts. The posting schedule is as follows:

Thursday, May 7

9 a.m. College of Architecture and Design

12:30 p.m. College of Nursing

3:30 p.m. Haslam College of Business

7 p.m. Graduate Hooding

Friday, May 8

8:30 a.m. College of Communication and Information

Noon College of Law

3:30 p.m. Herbert College of Agriculture

7:30 p.m. College of Social Work

Saturday, May 9

9 a.m. College of Arts and Sciences

1:30 p.m. Tickle College of Engineering

5 p.m. College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences

Along with the college web pages, UT’s Army and Air Force ROTC will each host virtual commissioning ceremonies. Air Force ROTC Detachment 800 and the cadets of the Tri-Star Wing will conduct a commissioning ceremony at 5 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 9. To request a link to attend, contact Captain Monaco at

Army ROTC is hosting its virtual commissioning ceremony of the Rocky Top Battalion at 3 p.m. Thursday, May 14. To request a link to attend, contact Charlotte Longmire at by May 11.

All spring 2020 graduates will receive a congratulatory gift in the mail as a welcome to the alumni family of more than 250,000 Volunteers worldwide.

In addition to the campus-wide celebrations, many departments, academic programs, and student life offices are hosting their own virtual graduations and award ceremonies to honor their students.

Throughout the month, graduates and their friends and family are encouraged to share graduation photos and family celebrations by tagging the UT Knoxville social media accounts and using #UTGrad2020.


Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993,