ANN ARBOR, MI – The University of Michigan is planning a number of in-person experiences for 2021 graduates, including professional photos at Michigan Stadium.
In February, UM announced that the launch ceremony for 2021 graduates will be virtual due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. In addition to the virtual ceremonies, students can participate in one of multiple social distance photo ops on the grounds of Michigan Stadium starting April 6, according to a university statement.
The photoshoots will include professional photographs and the ability for students to take their own photos with graduate friends and classmates, the release said. Students are encouraged to wear their graduation attire and will receive a special commemorative graduation pom pom, the statement said.
Instructions for registering for photoshoots will be provided soon and more opportunities for in-person experiences will be announced in the coming weeks, the release said.
“The class (UM) of 2021 marks an important milestone in their life and their academic career,” said President Mark Schlissel. “We heard from them that they wanted inspiring speakers and the ability to have a celebration at Michigan Stadium. We created our photo event in the Grande Maison and invited influential leaders to share their message and make this spring special for our graduates.
Based on student feedback, the ceremony will allow students and families to come together online at the same time and participate interactively, the statement said. Graduates will receive a commemorative program book after the ceremony that includes their names and degrees, the statement said.
However, some seniors and their families are still pushing for an in-person launching ceremony. A petition launched by Tal Lipkin, senior of the UM has obtained more than 5,300 signatures in the past month that call for an in-person ceremony, citing schools like Brown University that will have the graduation ceremony in person.
Lipkin posted an update to the petition website on Thursday, saying the photoshoot at Michigan Stadium was “due to your best efforts to communicate with the administration,” and that the idea was brought forward by de many students and parents.
The university also announced that civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson will address graduates at the virtual spring opening ceremony on May 1. Stevenson, who worked to exonerate death row inmates, founded the Equal Justice initiative in 1989 to provide legal representation to people who have been unlawfully convicted, unfairly convicted or abused in state prisons and prisons, the release.
Choreographer Twyla Tharp will address graduate students during their virtual graduation ceremony on April 30, the statement said. Tharp founded Twyla Tharp Dance in 1965 and has choreographed more than 160 works, including 129 dances, 12 TV specials, six Hollywood movies, four complete ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines, according to the release.