Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Harvard Comes Out of the Closet

. . . Harvard's gay community says it has finally cemented its academic legitimacy at the nation's oldest university.

"When Harvard does something like this, it causes a ripple effect around the world."

-- From "Harvard endows chair on gay studies" by Tracy Jan, Boston Globe Staff 6/4/09

College officials [said] that they will establish an endowed chair in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, in what is believed to be the first professorship of its kind in the country.

Harvard president Drew G. Faust described the academic post as "an important milestone" in an ongoing effort by faculty, students, and alumni to raise the profile of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies at the university.

The university has received a $1.5 million gift from the Harvard Gay & Lesbian Caucus to endow the F.O. Matthiessen Visiting Professorship of Gender and Sexuality.

The caucus - a 4,900-member group composed of alumni, faculty, staff, and students - was founded in 1984 to advocate for Harvard's gay community.

More colleges, including Yale, Brown, Cornell, and New York University, offer academic programs related to sex, sexuality and sexual orientation, though lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies are a relatively new discipline. The City University of New York began the first gay- and lesbian-studies program in 1986, according to Harvard. While Harvard has offered a sprinkling of courses related to gay and lesbian studies in the past, it did not allow students to major in the field until the 2004-2005 academic year.

To read the entire story of how Harvard was brought into the fold, CLICK HERE.