Constitution Day and 'I Am Kentucky: The Commonwealth and Our Common Future' Comes to UK

By Gail Hairston

All educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to conduct educational programming about the U.S. Constitution in recognition of Constitution Day, which this year falls on Sept. 17. The University of Kentucky chose Monday, Sept. 18, for its all-day celebration.  

Under the direction of the university’s Office of the President and Office of the Provost, the Office of Academic Excellence led the university’s planning committee with significant contributions from the College of Arts and Sciences. Staff and faculty worked with student organizations and other units on campus to develop a campuswide approach to the celebration of the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens and to develop habits of citizenship in a new generation of Americans. Monday, Sept. 18, is also the kickoff of the College of Arts and Sciences Passport to the World, a yearlong exploration of the culture and history of chosen areas of the world. This year, the planning committee chose the United States of America.  

Constitution Day at UK begins in a time-honored American tradition — with coffee and donuts. Between 8-11 a.m. Monday, members of the UK Political Science Honors Society will distribute copies of the U.S. Constitution and information about other events that day, accompanied by coffee and donuts in The 90, the atrium of the Don & Cathy Jacobs Academic Science Building, and the White Hall Classroom Building.

Other events of the day will reflect the theme for UK’s Constitution Day observance — “I Am Kentucky: The Commonwealth and Our Common Future.” Organizers planned it to be a daylong celebration of the many Kentucky identities that create the UK campus community.

The U.S. Constitution, the founding document of the United States of America, is a system of guidelines for how diverse peoples can come to agreement and forge a common identity, a common community and a common nation. Through lectures, panels, stories and discussion, “I Am Kentucky: The Commonwealth and Our Common Future” explores the variety of our identities as individuals, as Kentuckians and as Americans.  

This year, the day’s events also mark the kickoff of the UK College of Arts and Sciences “Passport to the World” 2017-18 theme, "Keys to Our Common Future: UK’s Year of Civics and Citizenship."

Organizers invite the campus community to use social media often with the hashtag #ConstitutionDayAtUK.

The schedule of activities and events for Sept. 18 follows.


Coffee, Donuts and the U.S. Constitution

8-11 a.m.

The 90, the atrium of the Don & Cathy Jacobs Academic Science Building, and the White Hall Classroom Building


“Rivers of Earth in Appalachia: The Work of James Still”

10 a.m.-3 p.m., Margaret I. King Library Building lobby

Learn more about one of Kentucky’s honored poets, James Still, and view elements of the James Still Papers and Photograph Collection.


“Different Perspectives to Form a Collective”

11 a.m.-noon, William T. Young Library UK Athletics Auditorium

Representative of student groups from across campus convene for a panel on the current state of the university and the country, led by Ben Childress, president of UK SGA.


Civic Engagement Fair

11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Visit booths around Bowman’s Den to learn how to get more involved in the communities and its issues.


"Eat the Bluegrass"

Noon-2 p.m., Young Library lawn

Stop by Young Library for Kentucky-themed lunch items, lawn games, music by WRFL and more. Programming was organized by Ben Childress and the Student Government Association. In case of rain, the event will be held the lobby of White Hall Classroom Building.


"Constitutional Controversy in the Age of Trump"

1-2 p.m., Young Library UK Athletics Auditorium

Join expert UK political scientists for a rousing panel discussion, including: Lawrence Baum, professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Ohio State University, whose research focuses on the explanation of judges' behavior in decision making; Justin Wedeking, UK political scientist, specializing in the role of courts in the U.S.; and Mike Zilis, UK political scientist, whose research focuses on politicized resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court.


"America’s Unwritten Constitution: A Guide for Civic Engagement"

2-3 p.m., Young Library UK Athletics Auditorium

UK historian Jane Calvert uncovers the real story behind the writing of our nation’s founding document.


"I AM KENTUCKY" reception

3-4 p.m., Young Library Alumni Gallery

Missed lunch? Stop by for finger food, information on the Constitution Day Essay Contest and conversations about what it means to be a Kentuckian today.


"KY Stands for 'Know Your': The Amendments and American Rights"

4-5 and 5-6 p.m., Young Library UK Athletics Auditorium

The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers presents back-to-back workshops on the rights provided by the Sixth, Eighth and 14th Amendments. Led by Rebecca Ballard DiLoretto, professor and executive director of the Institute for Compassion in Justice in the UK College of Law, with Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers presidents David Ward and Amy Hanna


"Keys to the Commonwealth: Why We Serve Kentucky and Why You Should, Too"

6-7:30 p.m., Young Library UK Athletics Auditorium

Local and state politicians from across the aisles and around the region talk candidly about what it means to them to represent the people of the Commonwealth, how they got into politics and what they think the future holds for Kentucky.

Panelists include: Bill Cunningham, Kentucky Supreme Court Justice; Colmon Elridge, vice president of Global Development and Membership, International Coach Federation, executive assistant to the governor of Kentucky (2007-15) and executive vice president of Young Democrats of America (2009-11); and Iris Wilbur, director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Greater Louisville Inc., formerly regional political director of National Republican Senatorial Committee in the Washington, D.C. metro area (2015-16), political director of Team Mitch (2013-14), state director, New Mexico, Republican National Committee (2012); with moderator Bill Goodman, executive director of the Kentucky Humanities Council.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue


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