The UT Tower will shine with burnt orange lights and “21” on its sides for two nights in a row to honor this year’s graduates.
The Tower will switch to the special lighting configuration at the end of the 138th Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 22 and will again shine with the same lighting configuration on Sunday, May 23.
When the Class of 2021 first arrived on the Forty Acres in 2017, the Tower welcomed the incoming students with that same special lighting configuration.
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.