We received great news earlier this week from BJ Douglass, a student and instructor who we have gotten to know well in the past few years. BJ was awarded a Graduate Certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies from SBAI in 2011. BJ also left a lasting mark here at the University by being a key figure in developing EDE 440: LGBTQ Issues in Education and Human Development, a course that is offered by the Warner School of Education and Human Development (and cross-listed with SBAI!) every other fall. She also developed SBAI’s own WST 210: LGBTQ Experiences in U.S. History. We wish BJ the best of luck!
I am writing to let you know how excited I am to have been selected as the Director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of North Florida (UNF) in Jacksonville, Florida. I arrived last Thursday, and after finding an apartment – and a good local coffeehouse – I started my new job on Monday morning. This week has been filled with meeting many students, staff, and faculty, and also trying to get a feel for the unique culture here within the city of Jacksonville, and at the University.
Working with SBAI definitely prepared me for working for UNF, and I am so grateful for the opportunities SBAI gave me to learn and grow and teach. I have already begun laying the groundwork to start an LGBTQ Studies minor here, and am grateful for having had that experience at the U of R working with SBAI.
In looking ahead towards October, which is LGBTQ History Month, I have begun organizing UNF’s very first LGBTQ History Month Film Series. In my journey to pick films to show, I was shocked to learn that UNF doesn’t have a MultiMedia Center, and that made me realize how lucky U of R is to have Nora Dimmock and her staff at the MMC.
The Resource Center at UNF is in its 6th year, and they have many wonderful programs and services for LGBTQ and ally students, staff, and faculty that the U of R also shares: Coming Out Week events, Safe Space trainings, and Pride Club programming such as the drag show, and a speaker’s bureau. They also have 16,000 students, which will keep our Resource Center staff very busy and give us many opportunities to provide educational programming around LGBTQ and ally issues across the campus. One thing UNF doesn’t have, however, is equal marriage laws, protection in employment and housing, or domestic partner benefits. New York, Rochester, and the U of R should all be proud for the rights and protections they have enacted for LGBTQ individuals and families.
While I definitely have my work cut out for me here, I believe I can make a great contribution to the University of North Florida campus and community, and am honored that they have given me this opportunity – and equally grateful that SBAI has helped prepare me for this job. Thank you again for all the great work that you do! Please keep in touch, and I will definitely keep you posted as to our developments here!
BJ Douglass, PhD-ABD, LCSW
LGBT Resource Center
University of North Florida
1 UNF Drive, Bldg. 58E
Jacksonville, FL 32224