UT Tower shines with burnt orange lights and "20" on its side

The UT will shine with burnt orange lights and “20” on its sides on Friday, September 20 as part of the 2020 Commencement Reunion and to honor the Class of 2020 and graduates who were recognized at the virtual May 2020 ceremony.

The Tower will change lighting configurations as graduates of the Class of 2020 from all disciplines come together at the Tower, along with their families and friends, for a long-awaited moment and the crowning celebration of their academic achievement — the university-wide commencement ceremony.

The special Tower lighting 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. The Tower also displayed the same configuration in May 2020 and December 2020 as the graduates initially celebrated Commencement.

Internationally acclaimed researcher, author and speaker Brené Brown, BSW ’95, addressed the graduates during a virtual celebration in May 2020, and she will again serve as the 137th Commencement Speaker during the 2020 Commencement Reunion.

On June 14, 1884, less than a year after The University of Texas opened its doors, students and faculty gathered at Millett Opera House 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.