In celebration of the University of Michigan’s 200th year, Central Campus’ iconic Burton Tower unveiled a maize and blue light show during the UMich200 Bicentennial Spring Festival in April 2017.

Its external floodlights have been replaced with a new system that illuminates the tower from within, with more than 100 LED bulbs that can be programmed in various colors. The system creates a subtle glow from within the tower by highlighting the Baird Carillon bells and the openings at the top.

The Lighting Practice, a Philadelphia firm that has designed lighting for the Empire State Building in New York City and the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington, D.C., served as the project consultant.

These updates were made possible by a $1 million fund created to install, operate and maintain the lighting. Leadership donors Ron and Eileen Weiser established a $500,000 challenge grant for it. Their friends Paul Dimond, John Carver and Tim Wadhams solicited gifts of $25,000 each from alumni, faculty and members of the community that were matched dollar for dollar by the challenge.

Lighting of Burton Tower begins at dusk and ends at midnight. When there is no special lighting, the tower is lit in white.

Lighting Guidelines

The lighting for Burton Tower is celebratory; it is also used to commemorate or memorialize. In general, the Tower is lighted to commemorate events that the university currently acknowledges, such as commencement and U-M’s proudest occasions and achievements.

The tower will not be lit for political purposes or personal events (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries).

The Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President for Communications have the final decision-making authority on Burton Tower lighting.

Questions regarding Burton Tower lighting can be sent to idstandards@umich.edu.


More Information

Learn more about the history and Carillon of the Burton Tower.


James Baird Family
Albert M. & Paula Berriz Family
Jamie & Cheryl Buhr
Thomas A. Buhr in memory of Ann F. & Joseph H. Buhr
Charles A. Carver III
Patricia & John Carver
James H. Chaconas Family
Paul Dimond Family
Steve & Judy Dobson
Wendell & Nancy Dunbar
Ken & Penny Fischer
Carole & Howdy Holmes
Tom & Connie Kinnear
Bill & Sally Martin
David J. & Linda K. Newton Family
Gil Omenn & Martha Darling
Raymond Pittman Family
Dick & Norma Sarns
George Smillie & Marysia Ostafin
Gwen Thayer Handelman
Laurie & Tim Wadhams
Ron & Eileen Weiser Family


As part of the University of Michigan’s commitment to sustainability, the Burton Tower lighting system uses long-lasting LED bulbs that use less energy than incandescent, halogen or fluorescent bulbs to provide the same light output.

The use of LED bulbs at Burton Tower is one of many campus efforts that support the university’s 2025 sustainability goals in the areas of climate action, waste prevention, healthy environments and community engagement.

For more information on U-M sustainability efforts, visit Planet Blue.