Spectrum Center to mark 50th anniversary, Jim Toy’s legacy


Campus and community members are invited to a series of events May 19-21 celebrating the University of Michigan Spectrum Center’s 50th anniversary as well as the life and legacy of its late co-founder, U-M alumnus Jim Toy.

Jim Toy’s Celebration of Liberation

The Spectrum Center, in collaboration with campus and community partners, is stewarding Toy’s wishes for what he termed a second “Celebration of Liberation” on May 20 at the Michigan Theater, where people from across campus can honor his impact at the university. Toy died in January.

Jim Toy photo
Jim Toy

There will be remarks from close friends and members of the U-M community, as well as musical performances honoring Toy’s love of the arts. Those who have photos and memories of Toy are encouraged to submit them for display at the event through the event registration form.

“This event is an opportunity for the Spectrum Center to steward Jim’s wishes for how the university can celebrate his impact and we are honored to be working with many partners to make his vision a reality,” said Will Sherry, Spectrum Center director and interim director of strategic initiatives for Student Life.

TO Attend
  • Interfaith Memorial Service for Jim Toy
    7 p.m. May 19
    First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, 1432 Washtenaw Ave.
  • U-M Jim Toy Celebration of Liberation
    7 p.m. May 20
    Michigan Theater, 603 E Liberty St.
    RSVP and submit items for display

Toy’s death has been felt deeply across campus. As a queer, Asian American activist, Toy inspired those who knew him and knew of him. He sparked a rebel flame, urging community members to continue to question authority, make space for those most vulnerable, and speak out against injustice whenever and wherever it was encountered.

Toy was a staunch lover of musical theater and classical music, regularly attending University Musical Society productions. More recently, he spoke at the 2017 Lavender Graduation Ceremony and participated in the 2019 undergraduate student history project “Deconstructing the Model Minority at the University of Michigan.”

Toy graduated from the School of Social Work in 1981 with a Master of Social Work degree, and the university awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at its 2021 Spring Commencement.

In addition to the Celebration of Liberation on May 20, community members and Toy’s friends and family may honor his life and memory at an interfaith memorial service at 7 p.m. May 19 at the First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor,.

Spectrum Center turns 50

The Spectrum Center will celebrate the legacy, impact and vision of the nation’s first on-campus office for the LGBTQ+ community at a gala May 21 at the Michigan League. Pink tie attire (think fun and festive) is encouraged.

to attend
  • Spectrum Center 50th Anniversary Gala
    4 p.m. May 21
    Michigan League, 911 N. University Ave.
    RSVP required by May 17

The event includes a panel discussion exploring the question, “What does a thriving LGBTQ+ community at Michigan look like in the next 50 years?” It will be followed by a reception with hors d’oeuvres, themed cocktails, and live music.

Featured panelists include U-M alumni Robert Hartwell, founder and artistic director of The Broadway Collective; Chris Kolb, vice president for government relations; and Lilianna Angel Reyes, director of Youth Drop In at Detroit’s Ruth Ellis Center and founding mother of the Trans Sistas of Color Project.


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