President announces LGBT Center efforts

 

Nearly 40 people attended the president’s reception Wednesday evening. || Melissa Ruhlman/TheNews

Chris Wilcox
Staff writer

President Randy Dunn announced Wednesday an LGBT Resource Center is a University priority, but acquiring funds to provide it could prove challenging.

Dunn held a reception Wednesday night for Murray State’s Alliance and allies, or friends of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

This reception was the second of its kind for Alliance and was held at Oakhurst, the president’s home.

Jody Cofer, academic program specialist and Alliance adviser, said it was common for various groups to meet with the President throughout the year to address issues and express their gratitude.

Nearly 40 members attended the reception. Among the guests were Cynthia Gayman, Regents College head; Jane Etheridge, director of the Women’s Center; the Rev. David Montgomery, co-pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Murray and Staff Regent Phil Schooley.

During the event, Dunn thanked the attendees for their work in changing the culture of Murray State.

He announced the passing and prioritizing of the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion’s Diversity Plan and confirmed the University was making great progress toward a more diverse and inclusive community.

Dunn said the state’s budget could provide an issue in the establishment of the resource center.

“Right now we’re trying to figure out a way to get the LGBT Center,” he said. “Right now money is the biggest concern. Challenging times are ahead for the University.”

The main worry of the night was about the LGBT Resource Center and what could be done to speed up the process.

The resource center, petitioned by faculty, staff and students, made the priority list on the Diversity Plan the commission approved earlier in the month.

Christopher Morehead, alumnus and board member for Heartland Cares, said the reception showed the president was advocating fairness and equality. He said he was disappointed about the news of limited funding to the resource center.

“It’s discouraging, but due to the president’s good works in the past I believe he’s the one who can gather the resources to make an impact on the community,” Morehead said.

Bonnie Higginson, provost, was more hopeful despite the announcement.

“I think the president and a number of us believe that LGBT students need to be served,” she said. “The resource center will remain a top priority even though money is tight.”

Buzz of the announcement spread among the attendees, many of whom said they wanted a center at a faster pace.

Michael Quinton, junior from Troy, Tenn., said the resource center is being addressed at an ideal time.

“The community is not completely accepting of not only LGBT people, but also the multicultural community,” he said. “This resource center will provide help to those in need.”

Following Dunn’s speech, Cofer said the event was a chance to shake hands, thank the president and discuss issues.

President Dunn said he meets with nearly 25 groups a year, addressing numerous issues and concerns.

“We do these events to show support for the work that the groups have undertaken, to give them a chance to get to know Ronda and myself a little better and usually there is opportunity to have a little discussion about planning future needs of projects,” he said.

Dunn held a similar reception event with Black Student Council on Feb. 6.

Constance Ashby, senior from Louisville, Ky., and president of the Black Student Council, said the reception held for Black Student Council was met with success.

“The reception was the jump start of Black Student Council week. It was an opportunity for members of Black Student Council to interact with the President, “ she said.