Spectrum Center

Participant Registration

The Annual Lavender Graduation, also referred to as LavGrad, is a celebration to honor LGBTQ graduates of the University of Michigan.  Established by Ronni Sanlo in 1995, University of Michigan was the first commemorative event of its kind celebrated at an institution of higher learning.  This commencement ceremony acknowledges the contributions of any graduates from any school/college at the University and of any academic level.  All participants within the LGBTQ communities will receive a free rainbow 2019 tassel, a lavender cord, and a Lavender Degree.  Participating graduates are welcome to invite their loved ones to celebrate their accomplishments. To register for Lavender Graduation, please register below prior to the deadline of Monday, April 1, 2019 at 11:59PM.

Lavender Graduation Participant Registration

We want to thank Dan and Ted Gadawski Callam for their generous gift, which has allowed Lavender Graduation to continue celebrating our growing number of LGBTQ graduates. Read more about the many ways that Dan and Ted support the Spectrum Center through their Alumni Highlight.  


Lavender Graduation Event Details:
Thursday, May 2, 2019
Location: Trotter Multicultural Center (address: 428 S. State Street)
Doors open at 4:00 pm
Ceremony 4:30 - 6:00 pm
Reception 6:00 - 7:00 pm

Wayfinding Details

In order to prepare participants and guests to attend Lavender Graduation, the Spectrum Center staff provides details about the event. Click below to view the document. We welcome any feedback on how to improve this document. For any feedback, please email spectrumcenter@umich.edu.

Lavender Graduation Wayfinding Details

Keynote Speaker and Lavender Honorary Degree Recipient

The Spectrum Center is pleased to announce that Esther Newton, Class of 1962, will be the Keynote Speaker for the Lavender Graduation ceremony and be the recipient of an Honorary Lavender Degree. Esther Newton graduated with honors in history from the University of Michigan, class of 1962. Although she loved the academic side of undergraduate life, socially, psychologically and sexually she was a mixed-up closeted misfit and left Ann Arbor after four miserable years with no intention of ever coming back.  
Entering the prestigious anthropology program at the University of Chicago, she once again excelled academically and was among the first in her class to achieve a Ph.D. in 1968, despite the tremendous stress that young people who have to live a closeted life endure.

Newton became an assistant professor at Queens College of the City University of New York, and off campus, she became involved in Second Wave Feminism and the Gay Liberation Movement. Still professionally closeted, she got a job at Purchase College of the State University of New York, where, after getting tenure, she came out professionally in 1974 and ultimately became a full professor of anthropology and Kempner Distinguished Professor. She was a founder of the Women’s Studies and the Lesbian and Gay Studies Programs at Purchase College from which she retired in 2006.

Despite her vow never to come back to Michigan, Newton was hired as Term Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan where she spent twelve happy years teaching and writing before retiring in 2016. She lives in Ann Arbor, which shows that if you live long enough, many things can change.

Her books include Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America, Cherry Grove, Fire Island: 60 Years in America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town, Margaret Mead Made Me Gay: Personal Essays, Public Ideas.  In 2018 Newton received a Lifetime Achievement Award from AQA, the Association of Queer Anthropologists at the annual Anthropology Meetings. Her latest book is My Butch Career: A Memoir.

Esther Newton


During the Lavender Graduation ceremony, the Spectrum Center recognizes the accomplishments of the graduating class by awarding several individuals and groups who have impacted the LGBTQ community. The awards categories are:

  • Cornerstone Awards 
  • Excellence in Student Leadership
  • Intersectionality Award 
  • Inspirational Influence Award
  • Outstanding Volunteer of the Year 

More details about the award descriptions can be found on the Award Nomination Form below. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, March 22, 2019, at 5:00 pm.

Award Nomination Form