Named after pioneering poet and activist Audre Lorde, Spelman College plans to establish a chair in queer studies, the first for a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), The Root reports. The position was supported by a $2 million donation from philanthropist Jon Stryker. In a statement issued to Forbes, Stryker states his donation helps to further students’ education on LGBTQ rights.
“The more that people understand queer history and LGBTQ issues, the more likely they are to accept and support the LGBTQ community,” Stryker said. “By empowering and educating the next generation, we can help make a future where LGBTQ people have full and equal protections under the law.”
Mary Schmidt Campbell, Spelman’s president, discussed the significance behind this new department.
“A chaired professorship in Queer Studies enables the College to build on one of its strengths and that is the Spelman’s educational inclusiveness, spearheaded by the Women’s Research and Resource Center under the stellar direction of Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall,” Campbell said. “Spelman’s Women’s Center has been and continues to be a pioneering leader in advancing scholarship in the area of Queer Studies. Jon Stryker’s generous contribution to further his commitment to LGBTQ inclusion and education will allow Spelman students to deepen their understanding around the study of sexuality and gender. We are honored to name the chair after the literary luminary and fierce activist, Audre Lorde.”
Spelman College announces a $2M match from philanthropist Jon Stryker to establish an Endowed Queer Studies Chair named after poet and activist Audre Lorde. The professorship is the first-ever chair of its kind at an HBCU. https://t.co/nb7FVHEOal pic.twitter.com/fBIEfPFBdm
— Spelman College (@SpelmanCollege) October 29, 2019
The news arrives two years after Spelman announced the admission of transgender women students, beginning in 2018. “In adopting this admissions policy, Spelman continues its fervent belief in the power of the Spelman Sisterhood,” Campbell said in a letter. “Students who choose Spelman come to our campus prepared to participate in a women’s college that is academically and intellectually rigorous, and affirms its core mission as the education and development of high-achieving black women.”