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November 7, 2008
Making campus gay-friendly
is aim of new scholarship
Wooster, Ohio--To honor a longtime gay employee, the College of Wooster has created a scholarship for students who work to make the campus more LGBT welcoming.
The John Plummer Memorial Scholarship, currently $1,500, is open to any sophomore, junior or senior student, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Plummer, an out gay man, was Wooster’s deputy comptroller for nearly 40 years before he died in 2006. He graduated from the college in 1964.
“[Plummer] showed generosity and steadfastness of mind and heart as an openly gay man in a sometimes hostile surrounding. His example endures as a quiet profile in professionalism and courage,” said scholarship founder Hans Johnson.
Johnson is a gay 1992 graduate who now lives in Washington, D.C., and works as a progressive activist and author.
“For some in the college and Wayne County communities, [Plummer] was literally a lifeline,” said Johnson. “He was also a repository of the distinct and vital history of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people on campus and in the area.”
Johnson said Wooster’s need to make a statement with the scholarship was illustrated in 1995 when a new president was hired by the board. At first, Susanne Woods was called “the best president for the college,” but she was run out two months later when board chair and Goodyear CEO Stanley Gault learned of her long-term relationship with another woman.
The incident is still fresh in many minds in the school and the surrounding community. Johnson organized the Wooster LGBT Alumni Association in its wake.
Just before this year’s homecoming football game on October 18, fifty people gathered in the college’s Alumni Center as the first Plummer scholarship was presented to Sarah Gollwitzer, a senior biochemistry major from Lakewood.
A flute player in the band that performed during the game, Gollwitzer accepted the honor in her band uniform.
On campus, she has been involved in the LGBT organization Allies and Queers since coming to Wooster. Gollwitzer also runs the LGBT program house on campus and works with Wooster PFLAG, Ohioans for Marriage Equality and Equality Ohio.
She was also an intern at the Cleveland LGBT Center .
Current president Grant Cornwell highlighted inclusiveness in a statement for the occasion.
“The College of Wooster, given our mission, should be a community of learners that models inclusiveness, and demonstrates to our larger society how people from diverse backgrounds and identities can draw upon diversity as a source of strength, inspiration, creativity, and the deep learning that comes from collaborating with others who see the world from different points of view,” he wrote.
“Of course, the college has not always lived up to these ideals, and does not even now. As an ideal, our goal is continually to aspire, to struggle, to move closer to its realization,” Cornwell continued.
“My college choice,” said Johnson, “had to do, in part, with the ability to sidestep the consequences of coming out while I was there. It is my hope that this scholarship does that for LGBT students at Wooster.”
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