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History & Mission

Vision

We build community, raise awareness, and celebrate diversity.

Motto

You belong here.

Mission

The Pride Center works to provide a safe and welcoming environment for UT’s diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, and intersex communities and their allies.

Purpose

As a physical symbol of UT’s commitment to diversity, Pride Center provides support, resources, and a community space for UT’s LGBTQQIA and ally students, faculty, and staff, as well as anyone who seeks to learn about topics related to sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression. Pride Center achieves this by sponsoring programs and events that raise awareness, increase visibility, and engage in advocacy regarding LGBTQQIA issues.


In the fall of 2005 Professors Bharat Mehra and Donna Braquet interviewed more than twenty LGBTQ-identified students, staff, faculty, and alumni to gauge the needs of LGBTQ individuals at UT. From that research, the top ten barriers and challenges to a supportive campus were discovered. These barriers included social isolation, a lack of formalized institutional support, inadequate information support services, and disconnected LGBT advocacy efforts. Several participants mentioned the lack of space and resources for LGBTQ individuals and the desire and need for a center.

“In addition [to the Women’s Center], they should have a LGBTQ center, a physical space. It is sort of the field of dreams—if you build it, they will come. The people already exist here at UT, but since there is no space dedicated to them, they do not feel welcome.”

Plans for the center began in the summer of 2008, when Interim Chancellor Jan Simek met with the executive board of the Commission for LGBT People. After receiving a positive response from Simek, a Resource Center Committee was established within the commission. In June 2009 the committee completed its study and issued a committee report outlining a proposal for a center. During this time, a space in Melrose Hall was designated by Simek to be the location of the new center.

The commission’s executive board and members of the Resource Center Committee met throughout fall 2009 to devise a plan for the space, which did not yet have a budget or staff. It was determined that the commission would lend the majority of its graduate assistant’s time of twenty hours a week to staffing the center and that a majority of its modest budget would also go toward funding the center with supplies and resources. The OUTreach: LGBT & Ally Resource Center opened on February 25, 2010.

In 2007 a virtual resource center (https://web.archive.org/web/20080704181853/http://lgbt.utk.edu/vrcenter.html) was established as part of the Commission for LGBT People’s website. It was a dream for many people to one day have a physical space, but at that time it seemed far from reality.

 

On Februrary 25, 2010 the OUTreach: LGBT & Ally Resource Center opened. More than 200 people from campus and the community attended the opening ceremony.

 

In February 2010, Andrew Morse becomes the first graduate assistant of the Center by the Commission for LGBT People generously allowing him to work at the Center as well as be the Commission GA.

 

In summer 2011 the Center was invited to set up during new student orientation.

 

In April 2013, planning and oversight of Lavender Graduation is transferred from the Commission to the Center and the 2nd Annual Lavender Graduation Ceremony is held.

 

In July 2013 the Center became a unit of the newly hired Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Rickey Hall. This was the first time that the Center had an administrative home.

 

In August 2013, Donna Braquet is given a joint appointment between the University Libraries and The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity. The appointment is a 25% appointment as Director of the Center and as the special assistant to the Vice Chancellor.

 

In September 2013 the Center hires its first work study students allowing the center to be open for regular and extended hours throughout the week.

 

In June 2015, the Center receives oversight of Safe Zone, which was previously administered through Student Activities and Multicultural Student Life.

 

In August 2015, the OUTreach: LGBTQ+ and Ally Resource Center became the Pride Center. Discussions about this name change began after Rickey Hall assumed the inaugural Vice Chancellor for Diversity position in 2013, but became a priority in spring 2015 for several of reasons.

 

On January 1, 2015, UT Knoxville moved to a new logo and identity system (the Power T). The new unit logos uses all capital letters which de-emphasized the “OUT” letters of “OUTreach.” Second, the OUTreach Center was often confused with other areas on campus whose name included outreach or those campuses that did outreach. Last, the LGBT in the Center’s original name was no longer inclusive of all the students that we served. The Center needed a symbolic name that would be inclusive of all identities.

 

After consulting with students, alumni, the Commission for LGBT People, senior administrators, other campus constituencies, and peer institutions, the OUTreach: LGBTQ+ and Ally Resource Center’s name changed to “Pride Center” on August 10, 2015.

 

We celebrated this exciting change at a grand re-opening and ice cream social event on Tuesday, October 6, 2015.

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