The UT Tower shines with burnt orange lights and the number “20” displayed on its sides.

The UT Tower will shine with burnt orange lights and “20” on its sides for two nights in a row to celebrate Commencement and to honor this year’s graduates.

The Tower will turn orange and begin displaying “20” on its sides during the virtual university-wide ceremony on Saturday, May 23 and will again shine with the same configuration on Sunday, May 24.

The special Tower lighting configuration to celebrate the university’s 137th Spring Commencement may look familiar to many of this year’s graduates. When the Class of 2020 arrived on the Forty Acres in 2016, the Tower displayed the same configuration to welcome the incoming students.

Internationally acclaimed researcher, author and speaker Brené Brown, BSW ’95, will address graduates during the university-wide ceremony.

On June 14, 1884, less than a year after The University of Texas opened its doors, students and faculty gathered at Millett Opera House (now the Austin Club) for UT’s first commencement. The president of Tulane University delivered the “commencement oration,” and 13 students, all from the law school and all men, graduated that day. The student body then consisted of just more than 200 young men and women, who were taught by eight professors and four assistants. The campus was one building around which cattle grazed.

From those modest beginnings, the university has grown and diversified, and its university-wide commencement ceremony has too. What started as a perfunctory gathering has evolved into a theatrical spectacle of music, light, speakers, and fireworks that combine to inspire more than 5,000 graduates and 20,000 family members, friends, and members of the university community. For graduates, it is the start of a new chapter in life. For UT Austin and for Texas, it’s an annual celebration of the university at its best.