For Immediate Release
December 12, 2003
Contacts: Cassandra Robinson, 301-405-4621 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bequest to Fund Endowed Professor In LGBT Studies
Expansion of education programs focused on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues has opened a new window for gay philanthropy. One example: a Palm Springs couple has joined with the University of Maryland to help strengthen the academic foundation of a fledgling program in LGBT Studies and also assist students experiencing financial hardships due to sexual orientation.
Peter Rodler and James Wood will bequeath their estate to fund an endowment of at least $1 million that will support the country's first endowed professorship in LGBT Studies. The professorship will increase the stature and visibility of a formal certificate program in LGBT Studies established at Maryland last year.
"This is a program we would like to see get off the ground and be maintained," said Wood, a 1972 Maryland graduate. "The University of Maryland is very open minded in the way it serves a diverse public constituency and we see this program serving as a role model for others across the country."
Rodler and Wood, who have been together 29 years, said they view giving to education as a way to ensure the long-term future for gay youth. "Because there will always be a need to educate the youth we know this gift will be a perpetual benefit," said Rodler. The couple said they believe education could become a new area of focus for Gay philanthropy once the need for AIDS research dollars is diminished with the development of a cure.
The endowed professorship, typically reserved for an eminent scholar whose work substantially advances the discipline, will bring a new level of prestige to a field that has only recently exploded onto the academic scene. Maryland is one of only a few universities in the nation to award a formal credential in this field.
Marilee Lindemann, director of the program at Maryland, said the Rodler-Wood Endowed Professorship will "surely improve the climate and content of LGBT students' education. It is really an investment that will help secure the future for programs like ours."
Maryland's 21-credit certificate program is the equivalent of a minor that will be noted on a student's transcript. Students take courses in literature, the humanities, and the social and behavioral sciences to fulfill the requirements for the certificate, which is designed to complement a range of majors.
LGBT students have made their presence on college campuses known for several decades, sometimes, however, resulting in their being ostracized by their families. "For years we have wanted to help gay students at Maryland," said Wood. "Especially those who have been cut off from their parents after they come out in college."
A Rodler-Wood Scholarship has been established separately from the endowment to primarily assist students experiencing financial difficulty for reasons related to their sexual orientation. The first scholarship will be awarded in spring 2004.
"By supporting the students and creating an aura of greater tolerance," said Rodler, "maybe the young people of today and tomorrow won't have to suffer the same prejudices we have repeatedly suffered. We hope others will joins us in helping the LGBT studies at the University of Maryland by donating to the scholarship fund."
The Rodler-Wood Fund will award scholarships as they are donated. Contributions may be made by contacting John McKee, University of Maryland Development Office, 3308 Symons Hall, College Park, MD 20742, or call 301-405-7959.