Outdoor graduation firsts for three U-M schools

April 28, 2022
Kaltura Video

Three University of Michigan units have partnered to hold their respective ceremonies at Elbel Field this year. Together, and in partnership with U-M Rec Sports, the Ford School of Public Policy, School of Public Health, and School for Environment and Sustainability are constructing a 2,500+ seat venue throughout this week at the site on the corner of Hill & Division streets, complete with over 25,000 square feet of accessible flooring and a full stage setup.

While the Ford School and SEAS Commencement Ceremonies have traditionally been held at Rackham Auditorium, and the School of Public Health at Hill Auditorium, this outdoor alternative allows graduates to invite their families to attend without more restrictive capacity limits amid the worries about large indoor gatherings. 

The Ford School will honor close to 200 graduates, SEAS around 250, and the School of Public Health just over 400, across undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs. 

“I’m so excited to be returning to an in-person ceremony and thrilled to be doing it outside at Elbel Field, where we can accommodate our growing number of students, their families, and guests,” says Ford School dean Michael S. Barr

The construction on site includes running electricity and ethernet so the ceremonies can be live streamed, construction of a 32’x24’ stage, and installation of a massive 13’x24’ IMAG LED screen.

“I look forward to bringing together our graduates, their families and friends, faculty and staff at the iconic Elbel Field to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of our students,” says F. DuBois Bowman, dean of the School of Public Health. “I am grateful for the partnership of our colleagues at the Ford School and SEAS in making it possible for us to host this outdoor ceremony.”

SEAS dean Jonathan T. Overpeck says, “As our number of graduates continues to grow in our programs, the outdoor commencement gives us ample space. We are so happy to be able to come together in person to celebrate our graduates after two years of virtual ceremonies. Elbel Field has been the practice field for the U‑M Marching Band for decades. Named after Louis Elbel, author of 'The Victors,' it will be a particularly fitting venue to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2022 graduates."