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Hall of Distinguished Alumni (Paul R. Wagner)

Left to right, Arts & Sciences inductees Steven Beshear, Paul R. Wagner, Alan Lowe, Jim Duff, Ashley Judd, and Interin Dean Christian Brady


On September 28, 2021, the University of Kentucky inducted 27 former students into the 2020 Hall of Distinguished Alumni. The alumni are being honored for their meaningful contributions to the Commonwealth, nation, and the world. The prestigious event, held every five years, was postponed last year due to pandemic restrictions.

The 2020 inductees include Paul R. Wagner (’70) who earned a B.A. in English, as well as an M.A. from the UK College of Communication, College of Communication and Information. Paul Wagner of Charlottesville, Virginia, is an Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning independent filmmaker, who has received multiple grants of support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wagner’s documentaries and dramatic features have premiered at the Sundance, Toronto, Telluride and Rotterdam film festivals. His films include “Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle,” about the first African American labor union; “Signature: George C. Wolfe,” a portrait of the New York theatrical writer and director; “Thoroughbred,” an inside look at the world of big-time horse racing produced for Kentucky Educational Television; and “Out of Ireland,” a history of Irish emigration to America featuring Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne. In 2018, “Black in Blue” told a story of triumph and tragedy about UK football players Nate Northington, Greg Page, Houston Hogg and Wilbur Hackett, the men who broke the color line in the SEC. His current film project is a feature documentary about the artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

To read full bios of this year’s inductees, visit

With the addition of the 2020 honorees, the total number of alumni honored to date is 333, since the hall was created in 1965. To learn more about the Hall of Distinguished Alumni and previous inductees, visit