To celebrate the University of Michigan’s 200th birthday, campus leaders are planning special spring and winter commencement ceremonies that will celebrate the graduating classes of 2017 and honor the university’s contributions of the past, present and future.

Planning is underway for the spring ceremony at Michigan Stadium that will uniquely mark the university’s bicentennial with multiple speakers, a musical performance and special seating for graduates on the field at the Big House.

“One voice is not enough to fully celebrate this historic commencement,” says U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, director of public affairs. “We want to make this a truly memorable experience for the students of our bicentennial class and their families.”

While details of the ceremony — including participants — are still being worked out and will not be announced until early in 2017, elements of the distinctive ceremony will include presentations by an array of university leaders, faculty and students, as well as a musical performance by a nationally recognized artist or group. A unique student presentation directed toward future classes is being developed by current U-M students.

The bicentennial provides the university community with an opportunity to celebrate its collective achievements while also examining the complex challenges facing higher education today.  Faculty, staff and students are involved in the special commencement planning process.

Graduates will be seated on the field of Michigan Stadium. This break in tradition is reserved for very 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.

Plans also include inviting delegates from around the state of Michigan and from other universities and colleges.

The university also is creating a special Bicentennial Alumni Award that will honor 20 individuals — 10 at each commencement ceremony during 2017 — who embody the breadth and excellence of more recent alumni. The awards reflect a desire to acknowledge U-M’s past contributions and herald its future achievements, as well as its state, national and global impact.

A Bicentennial Commencement Student Advisory Committee has been assembled, and there will be many opportunities for students to help shape commencement activities.