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By Doug Goodnough
Director of Marketing and Communications
Siena Heights University

October 30, 2020, Brooklyn, MichiganSiena Heights University partnered with nearby Michigan International Speedway (MIS) to provide a unique commencement experience for its 2020 graduates. MIS, located in Brooklyn, Michigan, just 22 miles from the Adrian campus, hosted the university’s commencement ceremony October 24. 

The University conducted the ceremony on the track’s oval, with attendees staying in their vehicles. Graduates received their diplomas at the finish line and a got a chance to take a “victory lap” on the famous two-mile MIS track before going out to make a difference in the world with their lives. 

A member of Siena Heights University’s Class of 2020 enjoys the commencement exercise at the Michigan International Speedway.

“When our regular Commencement Weekend ceremonies were postponed last May due to the coronavirus, we have been thinking about how to honor our graduates,” said Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, President of Siena Heights University. “With current COVID-19 restrictions in place, it makes it very difficult to bring graduates and their families on our campus to conduct a safe ceremony. We believe this venue offered a memorable experience, especially since this was supposed to be the culminating event for our 100th anniversary year.” 

“We realize everyone has faced significant challenges in 2020, and we are ecstatic that we can create a positive impact on the lives of these students,” said Michigan International Speedway President Rick Brenner. “These graduates have persevered and are well-deserving of this moment.”

More than 140 graduates registered to attend the ceremony, some coming from as far away as Florida and Illinois. Sister Peg said there is precedent for the institution to have its commencement ceremony in a location other than the Adrian campus. 
“The institution’s first graduation ceremony in 1924 actually took place at Michigan Normal College in Ypsilanti, which is now Eastern Michigan University,” she said. “And up until a few years ago, we conducted a commencement ceremony at our Lake Michigan College location in Benton Harbor. So we are paying homage to our history and also honoring our graduates and their families for their incredible accomplishments. We are thrilled to be able to conduct commencement at a major-league facility like Michigan International Speedway.” 

The mission of Siena Heights University, a Catholic University founded and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters, is to “assist people to become more competent, purposeful, and ethical through a teaching and learning environment which respects the dignity of all.”

Feature photo (top): Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, President of Siena Heights University, congratulates a 2020 graduate during the October 24 Commencement exercises at Michigan International Speedway. Photos Courtesy of the Marketing and Communications Department, Siena Heights University

Administrators wave to Siena Heights University’s 2020 graduates as they finish their victory lap and begin their work of making the world a better place.


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