Constitution Day

We The People Constitution and Citizenship Day

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day (also known just as Constitution Day) which commemorates the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution.

Under direction from the Office of the President and the Provost, the Office of Academic Excellence will lead a cross-campus gathering of support for offering Constitution Day activities at the University of Kentucky. Staff and faculty work with many different student organizations and units on campus to develop a campus-wide approach to the celebration of our rights and responsibilities as citizens of the U.S. and to develop habits of citizenship in a new generation of Americans. We want to hear from you. On social media, use our hashtag .

This year, the University will celebrate Constitution Day on Monday, September 18, 2017.

The Commonwealth and Our Common Future

What does being a Kentuckian mean to you? What makes our Commonwealth unique? How do our identities as individuals, as Kentuckians, and as Americans hold us together as a community—and what happens when they start to divide us?  I AM KENTUCKY is a day-long celebration of the many Kentucky identities that create our campus and our community. The U.S. Constitution, the founding document of our nation, is a system of guidelines for how diverse peoples can come to agreement and forge a common identity. Through lectures, panels, stories, and discussion about individuals, the commonwealth, and the nation, I AM KENTUCKY explores the Kentucky identities we all carry together.  NOTE: This year’s Constitution Day marks the kick-off of the College of Arts & Sciences Passport to the World theme in 2017-18, "Keys To Our Common Future: UK’s Year of Civics and Citizenship."

8 a.m.
First Amendment Essay Contest
(online submission due before midnight)
Self enroll at ~ for undergraduates only ~ essays limited to 750 words
Cash prizes for 1st place ($500), 2nd place ($300), 3rd place ($200) winners. Up to three honorable mentions will receive a book award: James Madison and The Struggle for the Bill of Rights. Professor Richard Labunski of the UK School of Journalism and Media is the author of the book. The three winners will receive their awards at the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center's Celebration on Sept. 28th, 6 p.m. W.T.Young Library Auditorium.
8–11 a.m.
Coffee With the Constitution
Grab coffee and donuts on us, pick up your own copy of the Constitution, get inspired to write for our essay contest, and learn more about the day’s events. Look for our tables at the White Hall Classroom patio, Jacobs Science Building atrium, and the 90.
10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Rivers of Earth in Appalachia: The Work of James Still
M.I.King Library lobby
Stop by Special Collections Research Center in the M.I.King Library lobby to learn more about one of Kentucky’s honored poets, James Still, and view the debut of the James Still Papers and Photograph Collection.
11 a.m.–12 p.m.
Different Perspectives to Form a Collective
W.T.Young Auditorium
Join representative of student groups from across campus for a panel on the current state of our university and our country. Led by Ben Childress, president of UK SGA.
11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Civic Engagement Fair
Visit booths around Bowman’s Den to learn about how to get more involved in the communities and issues that move you.
Eat The Bluegrass
W.T.Young lawn
Stop by Young Library for Kentucky-themed lunch items, lawn games, music by WRFL, and more!
Programming organized by Ben Childress and SGA (back-up setting in case of rain is at White Hall lobby).
1–2 p.m.
Constitutional Controversy in the Age of Trump
W.T.Young Auditorium
Join expert UK political scientists for a rousing panel discussion: Lawrence Baum (Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Ohio State University, his research focuses on the explanation of judges' behavior in decision making), Justin Wedeking (UK Political Science, specializing in the role of courts in the U.S.), Mike Zilis (UK Political Science, research focuses on politicized resistance to U.S. Supreme Court).
2–3 p.m.
America’s Unwritten Constitution: A Guide for Civic Engagement
W.T.Young Auditorium
UK historian Jane Calvert uncovers the real story behind the writing of our nation’s founding document.
3–4 p.m.
I AM KENTUCKY reception
W.T.Young Gallery
Missed lunch? Stop by the Alumni Gallery at Young Library for finger food, information on the Constitution Day essay contest, and conversations about what it means to be a Kentuckian today.
4–5 and 5–6 p.m.
KY Stands for “Know Your”: The Amendments and American Rights
W.T.Young Auditorium
The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers presents back-to-back workshops on the rights provided by the 6th, 8th, and 14th amendments. Led by Rebecca Ballard DiLoretto (UK Law and UK Social Work) with KACDL presidents David Ward and Amy Hanna.
6–7:30 p.m.
Keys to The Commonwealth: Why We Serve Kentucky–And Why You Should, Too!
W.T.Young 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.


  • Bill Cunningham, Kentucky Supreme Court Justice
  • Colmon Elridge, VP of Global Development and Membership, International Coach Federation; Executive Assistant to Governor of Kentucky (2007-15); Executive VP, Young Democrats of America (2009-11)
  • Iris Wilbur, Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Greater Louisville Inc., formerly Regional Political Director, National Republican Senatorial Committee, DC Metro Area (2015-16); Political Director, Team Mitch (2013-14); State Director, New Mexico, Republican National Committee (2012) 

Moderator: Bill Goodman, Executive Director, Kentucky Humanities Council

Constitution Day at UK, Monday, September 18, 2017


How did Constitution Day come to be?

Since the mid-twentieth century, Citizenship Day was celebrated in addition to Independence Day and Presidents Day as a way to observe the adoption of the U.S. Constitution by the American Congress of the Confederation on September 17, 1787.  Its origins came from the nation-wide promotion during and after World War I of the “I am an American” Day. By 1949 the governors of all the states had proclaimed their own Citizenship Day celebrations. Congress proclaimed in 1952 that the “I am an American Day” be renamed “Citizenship Day.”  In response to a congressional resolution petitioned by the Daughters of the American Revolution for a week of celebration of American citizenship, Constitution Week was officially enacted on August 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The purpose of the observance week was to promote study and education about the constitution and to celebrate those who have become U.S. citizens. In 2004 a law establishing Constitution Day and Citizenship Day mandated that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American constitution on September 17th. The goal is for “Federal, State, and local officials, as well as leaders of civic, social, and educational organizations, to conduct ceremonies and programs that bring together community members to reflect on the importance of active citizenship, recognize the enduring strength of our Constitution, and reaffirm our commitment to the rights and obligations of citizenship in this great Nation” ( For open access to resources for Constitution Week, see the National Archives resources on the Constitution at or the Library of Congress resources at


See recent past Constitution Day at UK celebrations: