CORVALLIS, Ore. – Building on its reputation for having a welcoming campus climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) college students, Oregon State University is launching a new program designed to attract LGBT students to its engineering and sciences programs.
OSU is establishing the first West Coast academic chapter of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP).
“Having the program on campus will enhance the university’s ability to attract, recruit, and retain LGBT students into our science, engineering, and Land, Sea, Sun, and Space Grant programs,” said Steven Leider, director of the Office of LGBT Outreach and Services.
The kick-off event for the new program will take place on National Coming Out Day, Monday, Oct. 11, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the main lounge of the Memorial Union on the OSU campus. The keynote speakers will be Michelle Bothwell and Derron Coles.
Bothwell, a bioengineer, is associate professor in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. Coles, an assistant professor in Science Math/Computer Science Education received his Ph.D. in civil engineering from OSU in 2007.
Leider said this new program is part of an ongoing commitment by the university to improve the campus climate for LGBT students, faculty, and staff. The program will include a quarterly speaker series open to the public, and mentoring for LGBT undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff.
Another LGBT mentoring program targeting non-science and engineering undergraduates incorporating best practices from other universities is currently in development. That program is expected to launch fall term of 2011.
In August, OSU was one of only 19 colleges in the United States to receive a five-star ranking for inclusion and friendliness from Campus Pride LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index. The high ranking was based on the wide variety of programs and resources created to support LGBT students:
• The Pride Center, established in 2001, like other campus cultural centers, has a covenant with the university that protects its status from ever being revoked.
• Each June LGBT students can participate in Lavender Graduation, a special celebration held before commencement. Each participating student gets to invite a special guest speaker, whether a faculty member, family member or friend, to speak during the event.
• A campus Pride celebration takes place each May and includes a variety of events and workshops open to the entire campus. It culminates in a popular drag show.
• Halsell Hall, one of the newer campus residence halls, has a gender-inclusive housing option for students, allowing them to pair up regardless of gender identification.
• A LGBT faculty and staff network connects the campus community through Yahoo groups.
• OSU Counseling and Psychological Services offers a once-a-week LGBT drop-in support group on campus during the school year.