Lavender Graduation Celebration

A Celebration of LGBTQIA+ & Allied Students, Staff, & Faculty

We wish we could hold the actual ceremony this academic year 2020. Chancellor Koch makes remarks at the ceremony every year, and she decided to still offer her thoughts and congrats to graduates via video. We will also send a lavender cord to graduating students upon request (limited to first 50). Congratulations to all the graduates that persevered throughout their UIS academic career.

Video and Photos from 2014 Ceremony

What is the Lavender Graduation Celebration?

Occurring the day before commencement, the ceremony features live music, awards, the student “Lavender Graduation Address” (voted on by graduating students), individualized recognition, and free lunch. Register in advance!

All undergraduate and graduate students finishing a degree this spring or coming fall are eligible to participate. No qualifications are required. Students receive a lavender cord to wear at commencement, signed certificate, and printed invitations to invite family and friends.

Register and nominate for awards at:

The Lavender Graduation Celebration is a cultural celebration that recognizes gender and sexuality minorities (LGBTQIA+) and allied students of all backgrounds. The ceremony acknowledges their achievements and contributions to the university as students who survived the college experience thanks to their activities and education at UIS. All students are eligible to participate. No qualifications are required.


  • Lavender Graduation Address:  This student speech is written and given by a student nominated by their peers. This student should be graduating and exemplify “Leadership Lived” through their outstanding scholarship and/or involvement in issues surrounding sexual and gender minorities.
  • Outstanding Student Ally Award: A student that has demonstrated affirming knowledge, attitudes and actions toward the LGBTQIA+ community as UIS. Nominees do not need to be graduating.
  • Pat Langley Award for Outstanding Community Engagement: This annual award will honor students, staff and faculty who are engaged in community based activities that are informed by knowledge and learning and that benefits LGBTQIA+ communities.  The award will go to recipients who have a record of exemplary community-based engagement such as outreach, advocacy, coalition-building, organizational development, teaching and learning, or scholarship that benefits LGBTQIA+ communities. A person that has been inclusive of the intersections of sexual orientation & gender identity while engaging the campus and/or local community. Special consideration is given to individuals that also create intersections between multiple identities such as race, culture, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, or the differently abled at UIS.
  • OUT! Front Student Activist: A student that has consistently strived to educate, inform, and advocate for LGBTQIA+ students in all areas of the university. Student activism should be understood as involvement on campus, leadership in an organization, or organizing activities that benefit the university. Nominees do not need to be graduating.
  • Departmental Ally Award: A department or office that has gone above and beyond expectations by supporting LGBTQIA+ and allied students at UIS this past year or has made significant strides to become inclusive of LGBTQIA+ students in their services, programs, or curriculum.
  • Faculty/Staff Ally Award:  A staff or faculty member that has gone above and beyond expectations by supporting LGBTQIA+ and allied students at UIS this past year.

First started at the University of Michigan in 1995, the ceremony is now conducted at hundreds of universities nationwide including Princeton, Duke, MIT and NYU. The color lavender, adopted by the gay movement in the 1960’s, is the main color of Sayville (“Gayville”), NY. Sayville is near Fire Island where the veterans of the 1969 Stonewall Riots organized. This history is honored during the ceremony as our graduates prepare to make history of their own.