U-M spring commencement will include unique bicentennial elements

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan's spring commencement ceremonies will celebrate the bicentennial-year graduates with a unique Michigan Stadium event that features voices from the past and the present, Oscar-winning musicians and special alumni awards.

The April 29 event will celebrate the graduating Class of 2017 and honor the university's 200-year history.

"Our bicentennial commencement gives our community the opportunity to honor the graduates of the Class of 2017, along with the amazing 200-year-old legacy of excellence and impact that they are joining," said U-M President Mark Schlissel.

The ceremony will begin with a commissioned bicentennial fanfare composed by Roshanne Etezady, a lecturer and an alumna in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. It will be followed by an ROTC commissioning ceremony led by a former U.S. Navy "top gun" pilot, Vice Admiral Walter E. "Ted" Carter, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy.

It will include presentations by an array of university leaders, faculty members and graduating students. A presentation directed toward future classes of U-M graduates will be shared by current U-M students.

"Our team of 18 students has been working hard to make sure the video is a success," says Jin Kim, U-M student and producer of the student video. "Our goal is to feature diverse voices and to learn about the intricacies and collective moments of the Michigan student experience."

There also will be a multimedia performance that will include portions of historic commencement addresses delivered live by current university dignitaries. The video presentation is being produced by Malcolm Tulip, assistant professor of theatre and drama in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

"For years now, we have become used to seeing great speeches and events on video. In the early days of the university this documentation did not exist or was lost," Tulip says. "This project assembles a series of excerpts from significant speeches from the university's past. In seven minutes, graduating students and their families will gain a sense of their place in the university and nation's history."

Graduates will be seated on the field of Michigan Stadium. This break from tradition is reserved for special occasions. It also allows more seating for the families and friends of graduates. Each graduating student will be able to get an increased number of tickets to the spring ceremony at the Big House.

U-M faculty members are invited and encouraged to march in the commencement processional and attend the historic event.

"Graduation, as always, is principally about the academic achievements of the students who are graduating," said Paul Courant, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. "We are pleased and proud to honor them and their achievements."

To celebrate their role in the creation of the university, delegates from the 12 federally acknowledged Indian tribes in Michigan have been invited to the ceremony. Additionally, representatives from all Michigan counties and delegates from other universities and colleges are invited. These honored guests will join the commencement processional.

Instead of bestowing honorary degrees, the university will honor 20 alumni—10 at each commencement ceremony during 2017—with a special Bicentennial Alumni Award.

The awards were designed to highlight the excellence and impact of recent graduates and reflect a desire to acknowledge the university's past contributions and herald the future achievements of the Class of 2017 and future classes. Award recipients were chosen by a campus committee based on nominations from the community.

"The alumni awards give us a very special opportunity to recognize individuals from our more recent past who can inspire our community through their outstanding ongoing work," Schlissel said.

The ceremony will include a musical performance by two of the Bicentennial Alumni Award winners, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The songwriters this year won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe award for the song "City of Stars" from the movie "La La Land." They are planning a performance that will include students from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Bicentennial Alumni Award recipients

The university will honor 10 alumni during the spring commencement ceremony. Award recipients include:

Ten individuals also will be honored during the winter commencement ceremony. Award recipients include:


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