Harvard College announced the appointment of its first director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer student life on Thursday.
Lisa “Lee” Forest, who currently heads the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allies Pride Center at Bridgewater State University in Mass., will assume the position at Harvard in November.
The new position was created by Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds last spring. At the same time, Hammonds announced the opening of a space dedicated to BGLTQ issues in Boylston Hall, replacing the Queer Resource Center in the basement of Thayer Hall, which had been criticized by students for its lack of a paid staffer and gloomy, underground location.
According to Assistant Dean of Diversity Relations and Communications Robert P. Mitchell, the space in Boylston will house a student lounge, an office for Forest, and working space for undergraduate interns at the new center and for Emily J. Miller, a student at Harvard Divinity School who was also named yesterday to the post of graduate assistant for BGLTQ student life.
Both the new space in Boylston and the creation of the director’s position sprung from the recommendations of the BGLTQ Working Group made up of students and staff which Hammonds convened last year.
Miguel Garcia ’12, a founder of the student group Gay, Lesbian, Or, Whatever (GLOW) and a member of last year’s Working Group, said he was glad to hear that an appointment had been made.
“I am very pleased with how the report of the Working Group is being treated,” Garcia said, adding that Forest faces “a huge job.”
Based on his experience in the Working Group, “I think it’s going to be a lot of work for [the new director] in determining where to start, especially considering we’re very far behind our peer institutions,” Garcia said.
In Hammonds’ estimation, the chosen candidate is up to the task. “Lisa Forest is a talented and experienced administrator who can take the College’s existing supports for BGLTQ students and make them more robust and accessible. I’m very pleased that she has agreed to take on this new role,” Hammonds said in a statement.
Though Forest did not respond to requests for comment yesterday, she said in the College’s statement that she was eager to take on the work ahead of her at Harvard.
“This new program will be a valuable resource for the campus community, and it represents an exciting new chapter in Harvard’s history,” Forest stated. “I am eager to collaborate with Harvard’s outstanding students, faculty, and administrators who have paved the way with an impressive array of BGLTQ-related initiatives, and I look forward to working together toward a shared vision of social justice.”
—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.