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July 18 , 2010

Case tells its LGBT center head to leave after only 3 months

Cleveland--Case Western Reserve University severed the employment of its first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center coordinator after 88 days.

�It may have been a matter of personalities and work styles,� said Dan Coleman, who was told to resign or be fired by Deputy Provost Lynn Singer and a human resources officer on June 28.

The center opened on April 2 to provide support for the school�s LGBT students, faculty and staff. It now has no staff of its own.

Coleman was initially reluctant to discuss the matter with the Gay People�s Chronicle.

Singer, who hired Coleman, received the Cleveland Human Rights Campaign�s Leadership Award for the university�s growing commitment to LGBT students, employees and alumni. She is presently away from her post while recovering from surgery. The university did not provide another spokesperson by press time.

Coleman said he was told to resign when he went to see Singer last month to tell her that the university had moved up a point, to 4.5 of a possible 5, on the LGBT-friendly Campus Climate Index.

�I never got to tell her. I left the campus and have not contacted her since,� Coleman said. �I don�t know if she knows about it yet.�

Concern about Case�s low score was one of the reasons for setting up the center.

Coleman said four things he worked on during his tenure were what raised the score.

Coleman said those things were the LGBT resource library, the Lavender Graduation, the formalizing of the LGBT alumni affinity group, and mostly, his careful research of the campus and its LGBT-affirming activity for the index, which had not been done before.

Coleman said he had the center �on target to have a mission and vision solidified� by now.

The LGBT Alumni group is having its annual retreat July 17.

Coleman said Singer also told him he was doing great and �exceeded expectations� as he was being asked to leave.

�I�m baffled,� Coleman said, though he believes he wanted to move the center forward faster than Singer did.

�I was willing to be vocal about things,� Coleman said, �and that may have crossed a boundary with the boss.�

Coleman describes what he calls a �patience of the entire university on LGBT equality.�

�I think they wanted someone to move slower on LGBT equality,� Coleman said, �They�re dedicated to it, but they want someone to take their time.�

Coleman said the other matter he thinks rattled Singer was his advocacy for installing a door in the center that could be closed, creating some private space.

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 LGBT Center.

It has 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 are being restored as part of the project.

�There is no room for privacy or to discuss sensitive information,� Coleman said, �with students sitting out there or passing through.�

Coleman proposed a glass door to try to complement the architectural design.

�I just talked to people about it and they didn�t like it,� Coleman said.

�They said I have to deal with the current design and no changes,� Coleman continued. �You�re only part-time anyway, I was told.�

Coleman said the space is �great� and �the renovation will be gorgeous,� and that his intention was to try to make it more efficient and useful.

The LGBT-friendly Campus Climate Index is on the web at www.campusclimateindex.org. The center is at www.case.edu/lgbt.

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