In a unique philanthropic measure, two University of Pennsylvania graduates donated $2 million last week to their alma mater intended to improve the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Center and foster a supportive environment toward the sexual minority communities at Penn.
Partners David Goodhand and Vincent Griski, Penn class of 1985, announced the donation at a rally on National Coming Out Day.
“We want the center to be a safe haven for LGBT people…these student groups are really vibrant and we thought they could really take advantage of this [donation],” Goodhand said.
The money will directly finance the renovation of the two-story campus building, the Carriage House, with the first floor serving as a lounge open to all university students and the second floor intended for office space for the LGBT Center, according to Robert L. Barchi, Provost of the University of Pennsylvania.
Barchi said the LGBT Center was founded in 1982 and has continued to thrive within a very tolerant student community.
Goodhand, a retired Microsoft manager, and Griski, a former Goldman Sachs analyst, met at the university and have continued to support its programs.
The reaction to the donation among the Cornell community was mixed.
“U. Penn’s gift was a spontaneous gesture on part of the two donors and was not part of their fundraising campaign,” said Gwendolyn A. Dean, coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center at Cornell. “Our alumni have been quite generous, but not at that level,” she added.
The Human Sexuality Collection located in Olin Library is one example of a donation by a Cornell alumnus to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Questioning community, according to Prof. Ritch C. Savin-Williams, human development.
“The students here are very fortunate in that the University and administration are very supportive of LGBT students and policies,” he said.
Yesterday evening the LGBTQ Center celebrated its recent office move from Anabel Taylor to 133 White Hall. According to Dean, the old location was too small for the amount of student traffic that the Center was generating.
White Hall will serve as the Center’s temporary home until it is gutted and renovated at the end of this year.
“We want to make sure everyone is familiar with the new location so that we don’t lose people who don’t know where we are,” Dean said.
There are approximately 12 LGBTQ support groups at Cornell ranging from clubs for people newly coming out to one for Jewish LGBT students. According to Dean, the LGBTQ center is in a very early planning stage for a more focused fundraising campaign in the future to raise money for the LGBTQ community.
“We have a long way to go before we would say, ‘Yes, this is enough,'” she added.
Archived article by Rachel Pessah