Special Collections Research Center

UK Chronology


1865-1879     1880-1899     1900-1919     1920-1939     1940s     1950s     1960s     1970s     1980s     1990s     2000s     2010s    


UK is established as a land-grant institution. It is called the Agricultural and Mechanical College (A&M) of Kentucky, a publicly chartered department of Kentucky University.
A&M opens on the first Monday of October with 190 students and 10 professors. It is located in Lexington at Ashland, the Henry Clay estate, and the adjoining Woodlands estate. Its first presiding officer is John Augustus Williams.
James K. Patterson, a native of Scotland, succeeds Joseph Desha Pickett, as A&M's second presiding officer. Patterson, who is considered UK's first president, serves until 1910. UK faculty, circa 1870.  (general photographic print collection-faculty folder)
W. B. Munson is the first student to receive a degree from A&M.
A&M begins granting master's degrees.
A&M is separated from Kentucky University (now Transylvania University). City of Lexington donates its 52-acre park and fair ground for a campus -- UK's present site.


The first women students are admitted to A&M.
The first college football game ever played in the South is held at what is eventually named Stoll Field -- Centre vs. Kentucky.
February 15 marks the dedication and occupation of the first three buildings of State College, as A&M was popularly called, on the present campus. The Administration Building, completed in 1882, is the first of three to be built.
The Agricultural Experiment Station, with Professor M. A. Scovell in charge, is established.
Belle Clement Gunn of Lexington is the first woman to graduate from State College.
Graduates form an Alumni Association.
Official colors are chosen by a group of students. A football fan suggests blue and white -- "blue like Dick Stoll's necktie." Stoll Field is later named for alumnus and long-term Board of Trustee member, Judge Richard C. Stoll.
An organized football program begins with Professor A.M. Miller as the first head coach.


1900-1919The University of Kentucky 1915 women's basketball team.  (1915 Kentuckian, p. 185)

An organized basketball program for women begins. The men's program follows in 1903.
The Kentuckian yearbook begins in this period, replacing earlier attempts to compile yearbooks.
A&M College achieves university status, and the name is changed to "State University, Lexington, Kentucky."
The first central library building opens on campus, through funding supplied by Andrew Carnegie.
The Wildcat is adopted as the official nickname after the cadet commandant attended a football game and commented afterwards that the team "fought like wildcats."
Kentucky Court of Appeals Chief Justice Henry Stites Barker, a native of Christian County, is named UK's second president after Patterson retires.
The Kappa Pi honorary art fraternity was founded at the State College, Lexington, Kentucky.  Art Club students -   Messrs. William Baughn, O. P. Gerhard, W. C. Halbert, F. C. Mueller and H. C. Williams were the founders with H. C.   Norwood as the Frater In Urbe and A. S. Mackenzie as the Frater In Facultate.
The Graduate School opens, headed by a dean, Alexander St.Clair McKenzie, and an administrative committee. The school offers the degrees of Master of Arts, Master of Science, Civil Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Mining Engineer, and Doctor of Philosophy.
The first issue of the new weekly student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel, greets students returning for the fall semester. It is still published today, although it began publishing four days a week in 1958 and went to five days a week in 1965.
The name, "State University, Lexington, Kentucky," is changed by the state legislature to its current name, "University of Kentucky".
Frank LeRond McVey, a native of Ohio, becomes UK's third president when Barker resigns. Under McVey, the University enjoys great growth, both in size of the campus and the student body.
Maxwell Place, part of the 13-acre Mulligan tract, is purchased and refurbished for use as the president's home. The house was built in 1870-72.
Responding to the demands of World War I, the campus becomes a combined military post and academic institution, training military personnel in technical skills.
Worldwide flu epidemic strikes the campus and the Barker Hall gymnasium becomes an infirmary.Soldiers playing cards in barker hall while the building served as an infirmary during the flu epidemic, October 17, 1918.  (nollau f series photographic print collection-box3/folder55/item24)



Premiere of the fight song, "On, On, U of K," at a student convocation. Lyricist Troy Perkins, an alumnus, won a $5 prize in a contest to write the words. Professor Carl Lampert, "father" of the UK Music Department, wrote the music in 1922.
McLean Stadium, named for Price McLean, an engineering student who was fatally injured in a football game in 1923, opens. The stadium holds 15,000, and is built on Stoll Field.
Alumni Gymnasium opens. It is the first UK gym large enough to hold a significant number of spectators during a basketball game.
Premier of the Alma Mater, "Hail Kentucky." Josephine Funkhouser wrote the words and Professor Carl Lampert wrote the music. It was composed in 1917.
Memorial Hall is completed, built in memory of the 2,756 Kentuckians who died in World War I. Memorial hall, built in memory of 2,756 kentuckians who died in world war i.  (nollau f series photographic print collection-box5b/folder141/item2)
Kentucky Alumnus becomes an independent quarterly magazine.
UK awards the first doctoral degree, a Ph.D., to James Anderson Yates, of Pittsburg, Kansas.
Adolph Rupp begins his basketball coaching career at UK that will last until 1972.
Providing badly needed space, a new library opens. Upon her retirement in 1948, it is named for the long-time library director, Margaret I. King.
Alumnus Dr. Thomas Hunt Morgan receives Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Enrollment falls by 1,000 students to 3,822 as the Great Depression takes its toll.
Augustus Lukeman's statue of James K. Patterson is dedicated. The statue now sits next to the Patterson Office Tower and the Administration Building.



Herman Lee Donovan, president of Eastern Kentucky State Teachers' College, succeeds Frank McVey as UK's fourth president.
The University of Kentucky Press, now called the University Press of Kentucky, is founded.
As a result of World War II, enrollment falls to 3,156. It will double in 1945, after the war ends. As it did during World War I, the University carries out training programs for the Army.
WBKY, now WUKY, moves from Beattyville, KY, to Lexington and is established as UK's first independent radio station.
The University of Kentucky Research Foundation is incorporated to solicit and administer gifts and grants.
Football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's first season. Bryant would coach at UK until 1954, coaching UK to Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl victories, in 1951 and 1952 respectively.
The University builds two villages, Cooperstown and Shawneetown, for married veterans and new professors, in order to accommodate the increases in enrollment and faculty.
The basketball team, known as the "Fabulous Five," wins UK's first NCAA championship, beating Baylor, 58-42.
The Northern Extension Center is founded in Covington. It is the unofficial beginning of the Community College System.
Lyman Johnson successfully sues in Federal District Court to be admitted to the UK Graduate School. He was denied admission on the basis of the Day Law, which prohibited the teaching of blacks and whites in the same school at all levels. Under the court's protection, the University admitted Johnson and other African-American students in 1949.
UK wins its second consecutive NCAA basketball championship, beating Oklahoma A&M, 46-36.




UK plays its first game in Memorial Coliseum, built in memory of the 9,265 Kentuckians who were killed in World War II.Memorial coliseum.  (general photographic print collection-commencements and classes folder)
Commencement is held in Memorial Coliseum for the first time, a tradition that continues today.
UK wins its third NCAA basketball title, defeating Kansas, 68-58.
Six members of the basketball team face charges of accepting bribes to control the scores and frustrate the oddsmakers' point spreads. The season is suspended the following year by the NCAA.
UK trustees authorize establishment of the Medical Center.
U. S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses an overflow crowd at Memorial Coliseum in the midst of the 1956 Presidential campaign.
Governor A. B. "Happy" Chandler pledges $5 million from the state to begin construction of the Medical Center.
Frank G. Dickey, another alumnus, and Dean of the College of Education, succeeds Donovan as UK's fifth president. Dickey's term begins with an enrollment of 7,170 and a full-time faculty of 600. He soon embarks on an extensive building program.
Groundbreaking ceremonies are held for the Medical Center.
UK wins its fourth NCAA basketball title, beating Seattle, 84-72.




The Albert B. Chandler Medical Center is dedicated. The Colleges of Medicine and Nursing enroll their first students.
The 500-bed University Hospital admits its first patients.
Governor Bert Combs signs the bill mandating the creation of the Community College System on March 6th. The system includes existing centers in Covington, Ashland, Fort Knox, Cumberland and Henderson, and a new one is authorized at Elizabethtown.
John W. Oswald, a plant pathologist and former vice chancellor for administration of the University of California system, becomes the first scientist to serve as UK president. He is UK's sixth president.
The library acquires its 1 millionth volume.
The Helen King Alumni House opens in October. It is named for the executive director of the Alumni Association from 1946-1969.
The UK Board of Trustees implements the 1962 legislation and establishes the Community College System.
The Donovan Scholar Program, which admits people 65 years of age and older to classes tuition-free, is established.
On February 22nd, the University celebrates its 100th Anniversary. President Lyndon Johnson speaks at UK as a part of the festivities.
Albert D. Kirwan is named interim president, while a search is conducted for a successor to John Oswald, who resigns in April. Kirwan, an alumnus, was retroactively named President.
UK is among the first universities in the country to admit faculty and students as voting members of its Board of Trustees.
Otis A. Singletary, Jr. is named UK's eighth president in May in an era of student activism nationwide. His administration will last 18 years.
The Patterson Office Tower, the most striking of several new structures that redefine the central campus area in the mid-1960s, is completed.




Students at UK, like those at many campuses across the nation, protest the shooting of students at Kent State University. Governor Louie Nunn calls out the National Guard. A building, believed to belong to the ROTC, is destroyed by fire, the cause of which is never officially determined.Student protesters marching on central campus in reaction to the kent state shootings, may 5, 1970.  (general photographic print collection-campus activities and events-student protests-kent state folder)
The Kentucky Kernel becomes an independent newspaper, without University funding.
The University establishes the Office of Development for the purposes of fund-raising.
The Alumni Association initiates a dues-supported membership program.
The Office of Minority Student Affairs is established.
Joe B. Hall takes over as head basketball coach, succeeding Adolph Rupp, who retires as the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history.
The football team plays the first game at Commonwealth Stadium, which has seating for 57,800 fans. UK defeats Virginia Tech, 31-26.
Intercollegiate competition for women in basketball and gymnastics is renewed. Volleyball, swimming, golf, tennis and track quickly follow.
UK's men's basketball team plays its last game in Memorial Coliseum, beating Mississippi State, 94-93. Thereafter, the basketball team plays their first game in Rupp Arena.
Alumnus William M. Lipscomb, Jr., receives the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, becoming UK's second Nobel Laureate.
The football team is put on a one-year probation by the NCAA for recruiting violations and a Bowl game appearance is denied.
UK wins its fifth NCAA basketball championship, defeating Duke, 94-88.
The Center for the Arts opens. It is later named the Singletary Center for the Arts, in honor of former president Otis Singletary.




The enrollment in the Community College System, at 24,059, exceeds that of the Lexington campus, at 21,616, for the first time.
U.S. Vice President George Bush speaks at the dedication of the Lucille Parker Markey Cancer Center, as the Chandler Medical Center continues to expand.
The library collection reaches two million volumes.
David P. Roselle, Vice-Provost of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, succeeds Otis Singletary as UK's ninth president.
WRFL, the student-operated radio station, begins broadcasting.
For the first time, the number of degrees awarded to women exceeds the number awarded to men.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Education names UK a research university of the first class, as faculty members attract record amounts of grants and contracts.
The basketball program is sanctioned by the NCAA on 18 allegations of misconduct. Penalties include a restriction to regular season play for two years and a ban on live television broadcasts of UK games for one year. Coach Eddie Sutton resigns and is succeeded by Rick Pitino.
President Roselle resigns in December. Community College System Chancellor Charles T. Wethington, Jr. is named interim president.




Charles T. Wethington, Jr. is named the 10th president of UK.
The Kentucky General Assembly passes a law revising the method of selecting members of the Board of Trustees (and governing bodies of other state universities), establishing a nominating committee to create pools of nominees for each position, from which new members will be appointed by the Governor.
UK adopts a five-year plan to raise admission standards and assign more full-time faculty to teaching undergraduate courses.
After the Legislature balks, President Wethington announces a plan to finance the construction of a new library building without state funding.
The men's basketball team defeats Syracuse, 76-67, to win a sixth NCAA championship title.
The Kentucky General Assembly reorganizes the Community College System, removing all but Lexington Community College from within the University's jurisdiction. The other colleges are merged with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and placed under a separate board of control.
With a 78-69 victory over Utah, UK's "Comeback Cats" win their seventh NCAA basketball title. The team is coached by Orlando "Tubby" Smith, who succeeded Rick Pitino in 1997.
The University's new $58-million central library edifice opens and is named the William T. Young Library. The library is the second largest facility ever built on campus.
Ceremonies and commemorations mark the fiftieth anniversary of integration at the University.
The Board of Trustees extends Dr. Wethington's contract for two years. The ensuing controversy results in the Board approving a new, revised contract.




Ground is broken for the new, $24.8-million Mechanical Engineering building, scheduled for completion in 2002.
UK announces its first comprehensive capital campaign, with a goal of $600-million.
In the midst of a recruiting violations scandal involving UK football assistant coach Claude Bassett, head coach Hal Mumme resigns. Mumme is replaced by Guy Morris.
On May 15th, a few weeks before the completion of an extensive renovation project, the Administration Building catches fire. There is extensive damage, but examination later indicates that the walls are still sound, and restoration work begins.
Former UK Engineering professor and corporate high-tech entrepreneur Lee T. Todd, Jr. assumes office as the University's 11th president.


As of June 30, 2011, Dr. Lee T. Todd, Jr. resigned as the President of the University of Kentucky, and after a leave of absence will resume a professorship in the College of Engineering.
Dr. Eli Capilouto became the 12th President of the University of Kentucky on July 1, 2011.



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