The Lavender Graduation ceremony on April 30th has been canceled, but we will still be celebrating our LGBTQ+ graduates virtually. 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 graduates 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.
All LGBTQ+ students who graduated in Fall 2019 or are set to graduate Winter or Summer 2020 are invited to register as a graduate. Those who register before the EXTENDED deadline of Sunday, April 12th at 11:59 pm will receive a free rainbow 2020 tassel, a lavender cord, and an optional Lavender Degree and optional printed program. Additionally, students will be able to select the ways they would like to be recognized or opt-out of public recognition.
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
Traditionally 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. We will still be honoring these accomplishments despite the cancellation of the event and encourage continued nominations. The awards categories are:
- Cornerstone Award
- Excellence in Student Leadership
- Intersectional Advocacy 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 27, 2020, at 11:59 pm.