COVID-19 Update: While we will not be able to come together in person this year, we will come up with an alternate way of celebrating UWM’s incredible LGBTQ+ graduates. Please keep registering and nominating below so that we may contact you with what our alternate plans are as we finalize them.
Join us on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 on a to be determined online platform for a celebration of achievement, identity & community!
We welcome May and December graduates to walk at our annual Lavender Graduation 2020 ceremony!
In 1995, the first Lavender Graduation ceremony was coordinated at the University of Michigan by the LGBT Campus Resource Center Director Ronni Sanlo. Dr. Sanlo realized that LGBT students needed to be recognized for “not only their achievements but for surviving their college years” (Sanlo, 2000). The graduation began as an effort for students to feel connected to their institution and celebrate their identity, which are similar reasons for ethnic groups hosting their own graduation ceremonies.
Dr. Sanlo served as the Director of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) LGBT Resource Center. When Dr. Sanlo became the director at UCLA, she immediately coordinated their first Lavender Graduation in spring 1998. Fifty-nine of The Advocate Top 100 LGBT Friendly Colleges and Universities sponsor a Lavender ceremony (Windmeyer, 2006).
The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee LGBT Resource Center coordinated the campus’ first Lavender Graduation in 2010. At this ceremony, 16 graduates were honored and the ceremony has been an annual event at UWM since this 2010 milestone.
For some students, the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee was the first place they explored and grew in their LGBT+ identities. For some students, UWM was the place their personal passions met their academic pursuits. No matter what the case – Lavender Graduation is designed to celebrate achievement and identity.
We welcome all UWM graduates to participate. Lavender Graduation, at its foundation, celebrates the achievements of the graduate through the lens of their identity across the spectrum of gender identity, gender expression and/or sexual orientation.
The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Lavender Graduation ceremony has been made possible through a generous donation from Joseph R. Pabst.
- 2010 Keynote: Jeff Merrick, Professor Emeritus, Author
- 2011 Keynote: Michael Laliberte, Vice Chancellor, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
- 2012 Keynote:
- 2013 Keynote: Gilberto M. Blasini, Associate Professor of English, Director of the UWM Film Studies Program
- 2014 Keynote: Gary C. Cooper, Academic Advisor, African American Student Academic Support, Class of 2010, Class of 2012
- 2015 Keynote: Tony Horne, Assistant Professor, Peck School of the Arts
- 2016 Keynote: Nhia Lee, Undergrad; Noel Mariano, Ph.D. candidate
- 2017 Keynote: Jim “Jazz” Nance, BS, Social Work
- 2018 Keynote: Nekea Leon, BA Dance; Dr. Bridget Kies, PhD, Media, Cinema and Digital Studies
- 2019 Keynote: Eve Thao, BA Psychology; Charmaine Lang, African and Africa Diaspora Studies
The UWM LGBT Alumni Chapter has been co-sponsoring Lavender Graduation since 2010. The LGBT Alumni Chapter is UWM’s official alumni organization for LGBT+ and allied Panthers and has been a part of the UWM community since 2010. Get involved with the Alumni Chapter here.
Sanlo, R. (2000). Lavender Graduation: acknowledging the lives and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender college students. Journal of College Student Development, 41(6), pp. 643-646.
Windmeyer, S. L. (2006). The Advocate College Guide For LGBT Students. New York, NY: Alyson Books.