Hundreds celebrate naming of LGBT Resource Center for founder
Hundreds of supporters packed the Kirkhof Center November 10 to
celebrate the naming of the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center.
The center is named for its founding director; Ford died in March following a battle with cancer.
Ford was a professor of English and liberal studies during his 40-plus-year career at Grand Valley but, as speakers said during the ceremony, his other job was to quietly press for creation of a LGBT center on campus.
Wendy Wenner, interim vice president for Inclusion and Equity, said she walked alongside Ford and others who lobbied for a LGBT center. “At one time, his office was the center,” Wenner said. “Under his name on his door in Lake Ontario Hall were the words, ‘LGBT Resources.’”
Wenner said Ford believed that establishing a physical space for a center was important for students.
“The center needed to be a symbol to the LGBT community that they matter,” she said. “It’s not just for the LGBT community, it’s for everyone. It helps us all learn and grow.”
President Thomas J. Haas welcomed the overflow crowd and said the event recognized Ford’s name in connection to the center as well as his legacy.
“We are creating a university that’s making a difference in people’s lives,” Haas said. “We are able to do that because we have had colleagues like Milt Ford, who had a quiet, persistent way to help us all be a family, a community of Lakers.”
Gary Van Harn, Ford’s partner, said Ford started the endowment fund for the center just weeks before he died at age 72. Van Harn, assistant for the Padnos International Center, said it was now his charge to ensure the center remains operational.
Colette Seguin Beighley, director of the center, said the work that goes on inside the center continues Ford’s vision, adding that his vision has expanded beyond the center’s walls to include scholarships, and annual programs like Change U. Seguin Beighley also introduced members of the newly chartered LGBT Alumni Association.
Gayle R. Davis, provost and vice president for Academic and Student Affairs, led a ribbon cutting with current and former students and Ford’s family.