The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) is honored to announce that Keisha Lance Bottoms, former mayor of Atlanta, who previously served as senior advisor and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, will serve as the keynote speaker at UVI’s 60th Commencement Ceremonies. The event will take place on May 9, on the Orville E. Kean Campus on St. Thomas and on May 10, on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. Both ceremonies will commence at 1 p.m. 

Lance Bottoms’ unique background includes serving in all three branches of government: as a judge, city councilmember, and mayor, marking a first in Atlanta’s history. Her tenure as mayor, starting Jan. 2, 2018, spanned critical periods including a global pandemic and a racial justice movement, positioning her as a key voice on urban challenges and opportunities in the U.S. She is widely respected for integrating equitable outcomes into government and commerce. 

During her leadership, despite the pandemic-induced economic downturn, Lance Bottoms delivered four years of balanced budgets without increasing property taxes, laying off city employees, or implementing furloughs, maintaining city reserves at $181 million. Her administration was marked by significant achievements in enhancing Atlanta’s resilience and economic growth, including a monumental real estate deal contributing millions in community benefits and attracting nine Fortune 500 company headquarters, significantly boosting the local economy and job market. 

Lance Bottoms spearheaded initiatives to address systemic issues and improve city living standards, such as transforming the city’s jail into a diversion center, eliminating cash bail for non-violent offenders, and increasing affordable housing units by over 7,000. She also emphasized diversity and inclusion in government, established new police and fire stations, and preserved over historical inequities, with reforms that included body cameras being worn by United State Justice Officers executing warrants and planned arrests.  

"We are thrilled that Ms. Lance Bottoms has accepted the invitation to address our graduates at UVI’s 2024 Commencement Ceremonies," said UVI President Dr. David Hall, who will be presiding over his final commencement after 15 years of distinguished service to the University.  “Her presence and invaluable insights will undoubtedly inspire and empower the graduating Class of 2024. It has always been our goal at UVI to bring to our students, leaders that are change makers, whose understanding of the Democratic process allows them to make positive change that impacts thousands.”  

Recognizing her unwavering dedication to equity-driven leadership and her efforts to guide and protect marginalized communities, Lance Bottoms was honored with the Distinguished Civil Rights Advocate Award by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. She was also named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year and was named a member of Ebony Magazine’s prestigious Power 100 List. She has been honored as a BET 100 Entertainer and Innovator of the Year and was named the Smart Cities Dive’s 2020 Leader of the Year.  

Lance Bottoms is the daughter of R&B icon Major Lance and Sylvia Robinson and is married to Derek Bottoms. She is the proud parent of four children.  

For more information about the University of the Virgin Islands 60th Commencement Ceremony, please visit www.uvi.edu