The search to replace Janie Long as director of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity will likely be over by the end of September.
Long was named associate vice provost for undergraduate education in May and a six-person search committee is currently conducting a nationwide search to fill her position at the CSGD. The committee, consisting of staff from the LGBT Task Force, CSGD and Student Affairs as well as faculty and undergraduates, will be conducting phone interviews with several applicants over the next few days. The committee will then send its recommendations to Zoila Airall, assistant vice president of student affairs for campus life.
“The next person to fill her position is going to face the challenge of figuring out what’s next for the center,” said Damon Seils, a researcher at the Duke School of Medicine, co-chair of the campus LGBT task force and chair of the search committee. “It has come a long way—how do you take a center that has gained such a good reputation on both the campus and country and take it to the next level?”
Long leaves behind a powerful legacy from her role as director. During her eight years at Duke, Long spearheaded the effort to change the name of the LGBT Center to the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and assisted the center's move to its current location near the entrance of Bryan Center.
Three dozen applications have already been received for the position and candidates range from all levels of experience and background. Airall is expected to choose a final candidate following on-campus interviews by the end of September.
"We would like to see somebody who is able to put a critical lens to polices, while simultaneously being mindful of the higher educational environment and its unique political challenges,” Kort said.
Seils added that the search committee seeks a candidate with sufficient administrative and supervisory experience as well as someone understanding of how young people develop in terms of identity.
“We want someone who has familiarity with the world of LGBTQ experience… familiarity with the academic world around LGBTQ issues, somebody who could find new and creative ways to bring even more diversity into the center in terms of who the center is serving,” Seils said.
Seils said the center is a much more visible, effective organization than it was when Long first took on her role as director in 2006. It has majorly changed in terms of size, stature, visibility, number of programs and the amount of students accessing the center, he said.
Daniel Kort, a senior and president of Blue Devils United, added that simply succeeding Long will present a challenge in itself.
“The expectations have been set very high for a director,” Kort said. “It has become an institutional priority for the LGBTQ community to reinvigorate the academic climate that surrounds LGBTQ studies.”
Kort added that many of Long’s esteemed qualities stem not only from her ability to inspire students in the context of student affairs, but as a role model and mentor for students in the academic realm. He added that one of her classes, titled “Clinical issues for LGBT,” provided him an academic perspective on identities and inspired him to put more emphasis on LGBTQ issues in his own academic work.
“I think an important piece of Janie’s legacy has been her commitment to all pieces of the sexual and gender diversity puzzle, not just those that fit neatly into boxes like LGBT and Q,” Kort said.