Debbie Bazarsky would prefer this story not to be about her.
On the contrary, the brand new director of the brand new LGBTQIA + Center for Faculty and Staff at Boston University would prefer it to focus on the hard work of her colleagues, the members of the University’s task force on human rights issues. LGBTQIA + professors and staff, who recommended creating a center with professional staff in 2019. Or she would like it to be the pioneers who came before her and who suffered the discrimination the center hopes to eradicate.
“I don’t want to overshadow the incredible work of professors and staff for decades or the work of the task force over the past few years – or the support and advocacy of top management here at BU,” Bazarsky said.
But his arrival is A big deal. She holds a PhD in Human Sexuality from Widener University and is a nationally respected leader and speaker on LGBTQIA + topics in higher education. She is also the founding director of not one, but two LGTBQIA + centers of universities, the first at UC Santa Barbara in the late 1990s and then at Princeton in the early 2000s.
In a note sent to faculty and staff at the BU in July, Jean Morrison, Rector and Academic Director, and Crystal Williams, Vice President and Assistant Vice President for Community and Inclusion, wrote that the center, which opened on September 2 on the second floor of 808 Commonwealth Avenue, “will serve as a hub for our work community, bringing together LGBTQIA + colleagues from our Charles River, Medical and Fenway campuses through programming, events and space of shared gathering ”.
The center is one of the final components of the University’s strategic plan 2030, a set of five priorities intended to guide the school for the remainder of the decade. Such a priority? Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DCI), which enabled the LGBTQIA + task force to make recommendations to improve the LGBTQIA + experience. Other recommendations included creating a centralized website for the BU LGBTQIA + community, increasing the visibility of gender and sexual minorities in academic media, and investing and promoting the LGBTQIA faculty scholarship. +.
For now, Bazarsky’s task is to get the center going and work out its program. “I am delighted to welcome Dr Bazarsky on our campus, ”says Williams. “Already, in an incredibly short period of time, she has started to develop an ambitious framework for what the center will be at BU and how it will serve our LGBTQIA + staff and faculty.
“She brings a tremendous amount of expertise, vision and compassion to Boston University. This exciting combination, and I know it, means the center will be a dynamic catalyst for the kinds of connections, communities, experiences and essential outcomes that we all aspire to. ”
Originally from Texas and a member of the LGBTQIA + community, Bazarsky has spent two decades in the field of diversity and inclusion, with a focus on LGBTQIA + inclusion. In addition to being the founding director of two nationally recognized LGBTQIA centers, she was most recently Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Engagement and Enrollment at Pennsylvania College. of Art and Design. She also spent over a decade at Princeton, where she held a variety of roles including lecturing in the Gender and Sexuality Studies program. When she first entered the field, Bazarksy notes, there were less than 40 people in the country working LGBTQIA + in higher education. In fact, the office at Ohio State University where she worked during her graduate studies was simply the GLB Student Services Office – the “T” had not yet been added to the acronym, let alone any other. thing.
As the inaugural director of BU’s LGBTQIA + center, she says, she is going back to her roots.
“I got involved in diversity, equity and inclusion programs and training when I was 14,” she says. “Since then, I’ve come a little way doing DCI work on a large scale, but what really makes my soul sing is the work of the LGBTQIA + center. I keep coming back to these roles because it is meaningful and transformative community work.
So what will this look like at BU?
Bazarsky has some ideas. First of all: she’s working on the recommendations of the LGBTQIA + task force. Its goals include improving the recruitment and retention of LGBTQIA + faculty and staff, as well as transforming the center into a must-have space for networking, events and community building. She also hopes to establish a strong training arm at the center, whether for allied training, department-specific training, professional development, or anything in between.
Until then, she is working on implementing a program for this year, which will include the recognition of International Pronoun Day on October 20 and, hopefully, the launch of an ongoing lecture series, and the establishment of focus groups to identify the needs of LGBTQIA + staff members.
“My goal for the year is really to listen,” she says. “It’s a new day at BU. There are professors and staff who have been here for many years who have experienced homophobia or transphobia. My hope for the center is that it will be a place that uplifts and celebrates the community, as well as a place where people can find support. “
To learn more about the LGBTQIA + Center for Teachers and Staff, email [email protected] or call 617-353-3990.
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