Erin Cross, a senior associate director at the LGBT Center with close to 20 years of experience at Penn, will be the center's next director, Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum announced Tuesday.
Founded in 1982 as one of the first places of its kind on a college campus, the LGBT Center has grown from a small office tucked away in the Student Activities office into one of the largest centers for LGBT students in the country, equipped with a team of full-time staff, work-study students and affiliated groups. Longtime Director Bob Schoenberg, who was hired as the center's first staff member in the 1980s, announced his retirement last spring.
“I am thrilled to continue my career as director of the LGBT Center, my professional home,” Cross said in a statement. “Advising students, advocating for meaningful change, and building bridges across the Penn community have been, and will continue to be, my highest priorities. The LGBT Center is a welcoming space, a safe space, and an enduring space for all who enter.”
As senior associate director, Cross was responsible for the day-to-day center operations, training and staff oversight, in addition to serving as an advisor for other university offices and academic departments.
"I do consulting with faculty who want to be more open and accepting of LGBTQ students or include related [content] in their syllabi," she said in an interview with Penn Current. "For mainly transgender-identified students but others as well, if they are having issues with faculty or staff and don’t feel comfortable addressing it themselves, I tend to be the one who takes that on and works with that."
Cross has a degree in political science from the College of Wooster and a master's degree in political science from Penn State. In 2010, she earned a doctorate from Penn's Graduate School of Education.
She has taught at the GSE and the School of Social Policy & Practice, in addition to serving as an advisor to the Office of the Sexual Violence Investigator Officer, a pre-major advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences and a house fellow in Stouffer College House.
“I look forward to seeing Erin take on more leadership within a Center she helped build,” Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Hikaru Kozuma said. “I am truly excited to work with her and continue the work to support the LGBT community at Penn.”
Cross is set to begin her new job on Sept. 13.