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Classical Studies Professor Bert Lain attends yesterday¡s opening of the new Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center. [Anna Grafton/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

The new Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center opened yesterday, drawing about 300 people to celebrate the event.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in the Center's new home, the Carriage House, at 3907 Spruce Street.

"The words of the day are pride and gratitude," LGBT Center Director Bob Schoenberg said.

Those words also proved to be the themes of the event.

Students, administrators, faculty and alumni gathered together to thank those involved in the building project. But they also expressed their enthusiasm for what the building represents -- a University commitment to the LGBT community.

"We embrace sexual and gender minorities as part of our Penn family," University President Judith Rodin said.

College senior and ALLIES Co-Chairwoman Aviva Moster spoke on behalf of students at the event.

"Such a move represents a commitment not only to serving those already part of the LGBT community but also offering services and information to the rest of Penn's campus," Moster said.

ALLIES is a group of heterosexual students that supports the LGBT community.

Engineering senior Steven Lauridsen agreed that the new Center illustrates the University's dedication to LGBT issues.

"When people come and they see a huge, beautiful building they see that the University cares," Lauridsen said.

The Center is the product of a $2.5 million effort that renovated the historic Carriage House.

Penn alumni David Goodhand (C '85) and Vincent Griski (W '85) were leaders in the project. They made an outright gift of $1.5 million to the renovation and gave an additional $500,000 in a dollar-matching provision.

Griski spoke at the opening and expressed his excitement about the building.

"I can't imagine that this isn't going to be a showcase, for not just LGBT centers, but for any other student center throughout the country," Griski said.

The LGBT Center was formerly housed on the third floor of 3537 Locust Walk, where it shared the building with the African-American Resource Center and the Wharton School's Management and Technology Program offices.

The new 6,000-square-foot facility includes a library of materials on sexual and gender issues, as well as common areas where students can congregate.

LGBT People in Medicine Chairman David Chu said the new space will enable his group and many others to achieve their goals.

"Now we have the resources to allow Penn student organizations to grow to their full potential and allow a lot of big ideas and far-reaching projects to become a reality," the second-year Medical student said.

Those involved with the Center emphasized that it is open to all students and groups however, not just those officially associated with the LGBT community.

"Everyone can feel comfortable being here," Moster said.

She added that she hopes the increased visibility of the Center will promote awareness about LGBT issues throughout the straight community at Penn.

Penn's top student affairs official Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum also remarked about the significance of the Center for the Penn community.

"It's been one of my greatest joys as vice provost to play even a small role in such a milestone in the life of the University," McCoullum said.

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