2019 Lavender Graduation

Join us on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at 7pm-9pm in the Wisconsin Room, UWM Union

We welcome May and December graduates to walk at our annual Lavender Graduation 2019 ceremony!

Origin of Lavender Graduation

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).

UWM's Lavender Graduation

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.

2019 UWM Graduates Registration Form
  • Graduates can register and RSVP by clicking HERE.
  • If you are attending as a guest or to support those graduating, please RSVP HERE.
2018 Lavender Graduation Award Nomination Form

Know an outstanding UWM staff or student? Nominate them for a Lavender Graduation Award by filling out our Nomination Form. Nominations close on Friday, April 26, 2019.

  • Eldon Murray Legacy Award: A true pioneer in the national gay rights movement, Eldon Murray helped start the Gay People’s Union, the Milwaukee AIDS Project which became the AIDS resource Center of Wisconsin, and Senior Action for Gay Environment (SAGE) Milwaukee. Presented to a graduate who has taken initiative toward a vision of creating positive change, promoting awareness, and building community for/of LGBT+ people at UWM.
  • Interactive Student Award: Presented to a student who has demonstrated tremendous effort to serve the LGBT+ community through building coalitions with members of diverse communities to end all forms of oppression.
  • Cheryl Kader Distinguished Service Award: Presented to a member of the campus community who makes significant, sustained contributions to campus and broader LGBT+ communities; work done on committees and professional positions may be considered for this award. All students are eligible, deference is given to graduates.
  • LGBT+ Research Award: Recognizes an outstanding published or unpublished paper written or research conducted while in residence at UWM, research which promotes understanding of topics relevant to LGBT+ communities. Students nominated for this award will be asked to provide an abstract or brief synopsis of their paper/research/findings.
  • Dr. Jeff Merrick Leadership Award: Faculty and Staff play a role in educating, rearing, and role-modeling for students at UWM. Presented to a member of the faculty or staff at UWM who has shown dedication and support for LGBT+ people through taking initiative in order to stand up and speak out against issues of homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, and cissexism.

Lavender Graduation Archives
  • 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
LGBT Alumni Chapter

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 Development41(6), pp. 643-646.
Windmeyer, S. L.  (2006).  The Advocate College Guide For LGBT Students.  New York, NY: Alyson Books.