Early in the morning on Saturday, Dec. 7, 120 students at Lawrence Technological University lined up to complete one final assignment of their college career: graduation. They dressed up, donned their gowns and mortarboards, and walked across the stage at the Don Ridler Field House on campus in the Southfield City Centre.
In 2019, for the first time ever, LTU held a winter commencement to honor the 250 students who graduated mid-academic year.
“We always wanted to have a winter commencement and give graduating students that sense of accomplishment,” says Lisa Kujawa, associate provost for enrollment and outreach at Lawrence Technological University.
Earlier in the year, LTU held its first on-campus graduation ceremony, awarding degrees and certificates to more than 600 students during three separate commencement events on May 11, 2019. Previous graduation ceremonies were held at facilities around metro Detroit, but the university brought commencement back to the Southfield City Centre camps as part of an overall vision to connect students to their alma mater.
Kujawa credits LTU President Virinder Moudgil for his approach to creating traditions that students will remember fondly long after leaving LTU.
“Dr. Moudgil is one of the best presidents we have had because he understands the importance of creating traditions that the students will remember,” she says. On-campus graduation with Blue Devil blue robes with the LTU logo on both sides helps students show and share their pride of being an LTU graduate, she says.
Students Join the Workforce Promptly
By adding a winter commencement ceremony, the university is able to better manage the numbers of students who graduate at different times of the academic year. It also allows graduating students the opportunity to celebrate, then proceed directly into the workforce.
“Of 250 [winter] graduates, 120 walked, and maybe the remainder will walk in May,” says Kujawa. “That shows that many of them don’t want to wait; they want to pursue their careers now.”
The number of LTU grads who have jobs within three months of graduating is 92%, and recently increased from 87%, says Kujawa. “The national average is 67%,” she says. “The type of school we are, as a private STEM-focused university that prepares students for careers in the marketplace that are needed.”
Perfect Time to Show Off the Southfield City Centre Campus
No matter the time of year, the commencement ceremonies give students and graduates the opportunity to show off their campus and the vibrant business climate in the Southfield City Centre.
“They bring their parents back, especially our international students, whose parents are coming to the university for the very first time,” Kujawa says. “It creates that important connection to the campus and to the Southfield City Centre and who we are. Everywhere in Southfield there were signs that congratulated the graduates.”
Commencement exercises are such a source of pride, says Kujawa, LTU is thrilled to add a second chance for graduates to participate when most appropriate for them.
“When you are in higher education, especially in my role in enrollment and outreach, you see every class come in as young freshman, and then see them walk across the stage and recognize they are men and women ready to pursue a career,” says Kujawa. “They are one of you, part of your family, an LTU graduate.”
Lawrence Tech is excited to share graduation season, winter or spring, with the wider area, and Kujawa says the “gowns and towns” connection between the Southfield City Center and Lawrence Tech is strong.
“It’s seamless now and we are one family, LTU and the City Centre, the businesses and residents,” she says. “This I believe is a golden gem and will always be a center of pride for all of us. It’s all about fostering relationships and being successful.”