Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing
Sep 13, 2012
By George Mauzy
After serving more than 11 years in the Ohio University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center, director Mickey Hart left his position in August to become director of residence life at the Columbus College of Art and Design.
As a two-time Ohio University graduate, Hart said it was not an easy decision to leave. He said the decision was a result of his growing desire to live and work in a major metropolitan city.
Compass recently sat down with Hart to gather his final thoughts on the move, his proudest accomplishments, and the current state of the LGBT Center:
Why did you decide to pursue this position in Columbus?
Hart: Although I love Athens, it had grown a little small for me. Many of my best friends live in Columbus and I found myself spending a lot of time there in my spare time. Also, I'm ready for some new and different challenges. I look forward to coming back to Athens to hang out and not always be working. I also previously worked in residential life here and at Antioch College and I enjoyed and missed it.
Will you have LGBT responsibilities in your new position?
Hart: There's no direct LGBT related activities. The college has a small Student Affairs department, so several of the staff members are the advisers to multiple student organizations. There is an LGBT student organization, but I have no idea if I'll be their adviser. I'll be fine either way and it might be nice to take a break.
What can you say about the Ohio University students and staff?
Hart: I've had the opportunity to work with some amazing students while at Ohio University –particularly the student leaders stand out. Hopefully I was able to point them in the right direction when they needed help. I also worked with some amazing colleagues over the years and many of them really love and care for Ohio University.
What are some of your proudest moments and accomplishments?
Hart: The LGBT Center is the only organized resource for LGBT people in Southeast Ohio, so I'm proud that we have such an extensive website for people who need information. We have more than 80 pages of information on our site for people to reference. We also brought in some great guests to town to speak. We collaborated with the School of Theater to bring Judy Shepard to speak about LGBT hate crimes and equality. She packed Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. Here visit was in conjunction with the School of Theater's production of "The Laramie Project," a play about Shepard's gay son, Matthew, who was murdered in a famous hate crime near the University of Wyoming campus. The LGBT and Ally "Faces of Pride" poster series also brought attention in a passive education campaign over the past 10 editions. We also have compiled a wealth of LGBT archives in the center dating back to the 1970s that include news articles, posters, books, files, etc. It is all available in the LGBT Center for people to review.
How much has the use of the LGBT Center increased since it opened?
Hart: I always believed that it serves as the LGBT living room on campus. During the 2003-04 academic year in the old Baker Center, we counted 1,043 hourly visitors to the LGBT Center. In fall quarter 2006, we had 246 hourly visitors in the old Baker Center and then our numbers increased to 732 hourly visitors during winter quarter 2007 when we moved to the new Baker Center. Last academic year, we counted more than 9,200 hourly visitors in the LGBT Center.
What was a common misconception about you?
Hart: Some people thought I knew all of the LGBT people on campus. I didn't! There is no way one person could know that.
What would you have done different?
Hart: I wish I would have paused at times to think of ways we could grow the center and help it acquire more resources. I could have been more strategic in my approach to growth and spent more time helping people understand what we do on campus.
Who will lead the LGBT Center after you leave?
Hart: Susanne Dietzel, the director of the Women's Center, will oversee the LGBT Center this semester. She will be assisted by Virginia "V" Martin, who was recently hired to serve as our new shared program coordinator. She will split her time between the LGBT Center and the Women's Center. A national search will be done to find my permanent replacement.
Any final thoughts as you depart?
Hart: I loved studying and working at Ohio University and met some amazing people along the way. The good news is that I'll still be very active working with the Alumni Office, and more specifically with LGBT alumni. I'll still visit Athens regularly. Overall, I think it is time for some fresh eyes at the Center. I'm hoping my departure helps the Center grow and evolve.