Special to The Herald
NEW BRITAIN-Professor William J. Mann has been named as CCSUâ€™s new director of the LGBT Center, and will also join the universityâ€™s History Department as a full-time faculty member. Mann has long been an LGBTQ activist on both a national and local level, is an award-winning biographer, and an avid historian.
Some books penned by Mann include â€śTinseltownâ€ť (winner of the 2015 Edgar award for best true crime), and â€śThe Wars of the Roosevelts,â€ť which reached shelves in 2016. He is the author of 14 books that address the LGBT experience in some form or another.
Mann earned a B.S. in history from CCSU in 1984, so he is familiar with the campusâ€™s culture, and he has spent the recent years teaching courses on the LGBT movementâ€™s history, along with the popular culture that surrounds it. He earned his masterâ€™s degree from Wesleyan.
CCSU President Zulma Toro expressed her enthusiasm for bringing Mann into Centralâ€™s fold by saying, â€śI am very pleased to have someone of William Mannâ€™s stature and experience join the Central family. His new position will unite his academic work with the critical mission of our LGBT Center and the unique LGBTQ Archive housed in the Universityâ€™s Burritt Library.â€ť
Toro said she feels confident that under Mannâ€™s leadership, â€śthe LGBT Center will expand and thrive as a critical resource in helping our students acquire the knowledge and develop the beliefs and approaches for valuing our differences as human beings.â€ť
Katherine Hermes, professor and chair of the History Department, shares in Toroâ€™s excitement.
Hermes notes the private university bias that exists in relation to LGBT representation.
â€śWhen students go online to look up the top 10 LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities, they are almost always directed to private liberal arts colleges. President Toro and her administration recognize that LGBTQ students need affordable, public higher education options,â€ť she said.
Mann says his ultimate goal is â€śto build on the work thatâ€™s already been done. There have already been things like the Pride organization, and the Rainbow Breakfast.â€ť The new professor will begin in the Fall 2018 semester, and another objective of his is to, â€śmake sure LGBT students know that this campus welcomes them and provides a space that is celebratory of their achievements.â€ť
According to Mann, the decision to hire him as CCSUâ€™S new LGBT Center director came as a result of Toroâ€™s thought â€śthat it would be great to have one person at the center of this. When Dr. Toro arrived at the university, she made it her mission that all communities would be served and welcomed.â€ť
Mann has already heard from a number of students who are eager to work with him, and he notes that a fair share of them are not even affiliated with the LGBT community. Mann feels that, â€śWhatâ€™s great about this generation of students is their real appreciation not just for LGBT issues, but their interest in multicultural activities, as well.â€ť
While Mann will teach as a full-time faculty member in the schoolâ€™s History Department - as well as act as a member of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program - he also has plans to collaborate with CCSUâ€™s English Department to develop more interdisciplinary, LGBT themed courses. In the fall he will teach a course called The History of AIDS, and will work on a public history project with a focus on unveiling mysteries in CCSUâ€™s LGBTQ archive.
If it hasnâ€™t already been made clear, Mann is rather optimistic about CCSUâ€™s present, and future, role in the LGBT community. He firmly believes, â€śCentral has an opportunity to become a hub for LGBT culture and scholarship throughout the region. Thereâ€™s real excitement here among LGBT and allied students about the possibilities. The message we hope to send is that you donâ€™t have to go to an exclusive, private college to find a focus on LGBT history and achievement.â€ť
In addition to courses and supportive programming, CCSU also provides the option of gender inclusive housing in their residence halls. LGBT students can either apply directly through the online placement system or can meet confidentially with residence staff to determine the best available housing options to meet their needs.
The university also offers the Richard S. Spada and Robert G. Childers Scholarship which supports students who identify with the LGBTQ community, and who have exhibited integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity.
For more information about the LGBT Center, they can be reached at 860-832-2090.