Vanderbilt to launch full-time GLBT office

A full-time and fully staffed office to support the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community at Vanderbilt will launch this fall.

The K.C. Potter Center will replace a part-time resource center. The search for a full-time director has begun, and another for program director will follow.

The K.C. Potter Center will be named in honor of a former dean of residential and judicial affairs at Vanderbilt who was supportive of the GLBT community.

The new office “will not only provide support and encouragement, but also the type of visibility and advocacy needed in the Vanderbilt community,” said Shay Malone, assistant director of the Office of Leadership Development and Intercultural Affairs. “It is my hope that with a fully staffed GLBT office, we can begin to address some of the unique challenges GLBT students face here at Vanderbilt and the need to educate students on awareness and understanding in a way we were not able to do before.”

The university has also established a new committee to advice the administration on issues that affect GLBT life on campus. David Boyd, associate professor of medicine, health and society, who led the task force that recommended the creation of the GLBT center, has been appointed chair of the committee.

“I am pleased with the strong lead that the administration is taking both on GLBT issues and on issues of diversity in general,” Boyd said.

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, who commissioned a report on GLBT life at Vanderbilt when he was provost, said he was “grateful to Professor Boyd and his committee for helping us understand the challenges that are still ahead.”

“The creation of the K.C. Potter Center is perhaps the most urgent charge from the committee, and I am pleased and proud that we can move forward on it so quickly,” Zeppos said.

A variety of Vanderbilt staff including police officers, resident advisers, peer mentors and student health workers will be required to undergo training through the Safe Zone program, which works to increase the understanding and awareness of GLBT issues.

“These improvements represent an important first step in ensuring that GLBT students and employees are free to attend school, live and work in safety and comfort,” said Nicholas Wells, a Vanderbilt student and president of the Human Rights Campaign at the university. “HRC Vanderbilt looks forward to continuing our work with the administration, faculty and student leaders to craft critical next steps in Vanderbilt’s evolution on GLBT issues.”

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