The in-person Lavender Graduation ceremony on April 30th has been canceled, but we will still be celebrating our LGBTQ+ graduates online. Read below for updates!
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, the 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 graduate from any school/college at the university and of any academic level.
Due to COVID-19 and the University of Michigan’s suspension of all in-person commencements, the day-of ceremony itself has been canceled. However, the Spectrum Center still has opportunities to highlight this year’s graduating class.
In lieu of an in-person event, Spectrum Center launched a dedicated online website on April 30, 2020 to celebrate LGBTQ+ graduates at the University of Michigan. The virtual celebration highlights the 2020 award recipients and Lavender Graduating Class of 2020. In addition, visitors will enjoy an interactive program booklet and watching congratulatory remarks from Director, Will Sherry, as well as a keynote address by Lavender Graduation founder, Ronni Sanlo, Ph.D. Additionally, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of LavGrad on campus, Assistant Director, Mark Chung Kwan Fan makes a special announcement naming the Cornerstone Award after Ronni!
Keynote Speaker and Lavender Honorary Degree Recipient
The Spectrum Center is pleased to announce that Ronni Sanlo, Founder of Lavender Graduation in 1995, will be the Keynote Speaker for the Lavender Graduation ceremony and be the recipient of an Honorary Lavender Degree. Playwright, author and LGBT historian Dr. Ronni Sanlo is a well-known keynote speaker at colleges and universities around the country. Ronni speaks not only from her perspective as a higher education/student affairs professor, LGBT center director, dean of students, and faculty in residence but also from her personal life experiences. In lieu of a public speech, Ronni will be providing a pre-recorded video and her remarks in text to be posted along with the 2020 graduating class.
She began writing Readers’ Theater plays in just the past few years. Her first, Sing Meadowlark, has been performed around the country. Dear Anita Bryant is her second. Her third play, The Soldier and the Time Traveler are currently being readied for table reads. Now retired, Dr. Sanlo directed the UCLA LGBT Center and was a professor at the UCLA Graduate School of Education. She is the founder of the award-winning Lavender Graduation, a commencement event that honors the lives and achievements of LGBTQ students. Prior to her work in Higher Education, Ronni was an HIV epidemiologist in Florida. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Florida, and a master's and doctorate in education from the University of North Florida. Ronni and her wife Dr. Kelly Watson live in Palm Springs, CA, and Sequim, WA. To learn more about Dr. Sanlo, visit ronnisanlo.com.
Awards Categories & Nominations
During the Lavender Graduation ceremony, Spectrum Center recognizes the accomplishments of the graduating class by awarding several individuals and groups who have impacted the LGBTQ+ community. The award categories are:
- Ronni Sanlo Cornerstone Award
- Excellence in Student Leadership
- Intersectional Advocacy Award
- Inspirational Influence Award
- Outstanding Volunteer of the Year