Editors' note: John D'Emilio teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A pioneer in the field of gay and lesbian history and author or editor of half a dozen books, he was also the founding director of the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
This past week I attended a high-spirited party at work. Our university's Gender & Sexuality Center, the office that advocates for GLBT issues on campus and provides services and support for students, faculty, and staff, was welcoming a new director. I had been on the committee that conducted the search, evaluated the applications, and made recommendations, so the party was an especially sweet occasion for me.
Ten years earlier, I had participated in the search for the previous director. I remember being both excited and worried at the applicant pool then. There were certainly lots of folks who wanted the job. Some had connections to the field of education; others were involved in GLBT community organizations, either as staff or board leaders; many had succeeded in other kinds of work that gave them skills that one would want in a director.
But would they adapt well to a campus work setting? Would their skills and experience be transferable? In this earlier search, we ended up hiring someone who was a high school teacher who had come out, had then become an adviser to his school's GSA, and had some administrative experience as well. He proved to be a good choice. He stayed with us for almost a decade, and the center expanded and had a higher profile under his direction.