A gift from a longtime faculty member and her husband has created an endowment to support an annual Lavender Recognition Ceremony at Western Kentucky University.

Dr. Patricia Minter and Michael Minter established the Lavender Graduation Endowment to provide funding for an annual ceremony to honor graduating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally students and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the University. An Associate Professor of History at WKU, Dr. Minter specializes in U.S. legal history, civil rights and human rights.

“We chose to make this gift to turn a dream into a reality by establishing an annual Lavender Graduation to ensure ongoing visibility and celebration for the LGBTQ and ally community at WKU,” she said. “This ceremony is something that is long overdue on WKU's campus, and with our gift we guarantee that this will be an annual celebration to create visibility, recognize the struggles of this community, and to celebrate our students' success as they go out into the world that awaits them.”

WKU’s Lavender Recognition Ceremony builds on University-wide commencement events and is held prior to the academic commencement ceremony before the conclusion of the academic year. The tradition of Lavender Graduation began at the University of Michigan in 1995 and continues to expand to colleges and universities across the country. Lavender is important to the LGBTQ history, as it is a combination of the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps and the black triangle designating lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany.

“I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the inaugural Lavender Recognition Ceremony at WKU on May 11, 2015,” Minter said. “As someone who has spent a career studying social movements and the struggle for human rights, it has long been clear to me that one person, or a small group of committed activists, can literally change the world. With our gift, we wanted to create a legacy and also provide a bridge to create an LGBTQ alumni group going forward. We hope that this endowment will also provide an opportunity for other supporters to accept our challenge and to donate in order to show their support for what we’ve created and for the community.”

The Dr. Patricia and Mr. Michael Minter Lavender Graduation Endowment was created through a gift of $10,000, made in honor of the LGBTQ and ally community at WKU, and in loving memory of Edward Johns, a longtime friend of the Minter family.

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