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April, 9, 2010

Case Western Reserve opens new LGBT center

Cleveland--Case Western Reserve University began operations of its new Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center on April 2 with a familiar community activist as its first coordinator.

Deputy Provost Lynn Singer said the center resulted from the discovery several years ago that LGBT students, faculty and staff at the university were not feeling supported, and the school’s commitment to addressing the situation.

“We always knew that we needed a center, or at least staffing, like most universities already have,” Singer said, adding that the LGBT alumni group started last year was also a part of the effort.

An anonymous donor provided funding for the renovation of Hitchcock House, an 1897 mansion and former men’s residence connected to Thwing Student Center, to include space for the new facility.

It will have study and meeting space, along with a kitchenette, lounge and the Hart Crane Reading Room, named for the gay Ohio poet who attended Western Reserve University in the early 1920s.

Many of Hitchcock’s 19th-century architectural features will be restored, giving the center a warm and comforting feel.

With construction still going on, the university’s LGBT committee, which governs the center, opened it for business in temporary quarters with Dan Coleman as its first coordinator.

The center is expected to move into Hitchcock by May and have its opening event in the fall.

“Everyone here is excited about it,” said Singer.

The coordinator’s position is starting part time, with plans to make it a full time position as soon as funding allows it.

“During these recessionary times we are lucky we could get it started,” Singer said.

Though Coleman will be expected to raise some funds for the center, Singer, who directly supervises its operation, said the position is “really about program and putting students first.”

The center will serve as a resource, with the Western Reserve Historical Society, for research of LGBT collections.

Coleman said he has already begun work on this library, which he hopes will include a large video archive.

Coleman also wants to hold a contest to design the center’s logo as one of his first projects.

In the long term, Coleman wants to create and supervise internships for LGBT causes and eventually create paid LGBT research positions at the campus. He also wants the center to have impact throughout the northeast Ohio region.

Coleman holds a masters of music in trumpet performance from Indiana University, where he was the program coordinator of the LGBT Student Support Services. He is also in the 2007 Princeton Review Gay and Lesbian Guide to College Life.

As an undergraduate at Capital University in Columbus, Coleman was a leader of Pride, the LGBT student organization, and a volunteer at Stonewall Columbus and the Human Rights Campaign.

More recently, Coleman was employed by Equality Ohio as a community organizer. He also managed the city council campaign of his partner Jay Smith in Medina where the couple lives, is president of the Medina County Gay Straight Alliance, and advises the Gender Queer Coalition of Greater Cincinnati.

Coleman said getting to Case is a “full circle experience” for him that began as a teen as a member of the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony, which has an affiliation with Case and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

“I wasn’t good enough for CIM and I didn’t have the grades to get into Case,” Coleman said, adding that he always wanted to end up there.

“I love this environment,” Coleman said, “I was entranced by it as a kid. It’s a lovely community I always respected, and now I’m here.”

The center’s website is www.case.edu/lgbt. Coleman can be reached at lgbt@case.edu.

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