LGBT Gala March 24

TAMPA, Fla. (March 3, 2009) – Growing by leaps and bounds, the annual USF LGBT Community Gala is now in its fifth year and will take place Mar. 24, at Traditions Hall in the Gibbons Alumni Center from 5:45 to 8 p.m.  The event’s theme, “Global Diversity in Action,” is the topic Betty Castor, executive director of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions, will take up in her keynote address.  Castor, former USF president, from 1986 to 1993, now oversees all aspects of the center’s solutions-oriented research projects, and will discuss the importance of inclusionary practices and USF’s role in a global environment.


“GALA is our signature event that demonstrates the collaborative efforts of all LGBT groups across USF’s institutions and campuses in Tampa,  St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland,” said Karen Berkman, executive director of the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, who serves as the chair of the Committee on Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (CISOGI).


“We are very excited that this will be the first year we will award a deserving student with a $1000 scholarship from the newly endowed LGBT scholarship fund.  Our community has grown and strengthened and as such, will continue to add to the diversity mission to build a welcoming environment for all LGBT students, staff and faculty.”


Kristen Shalosky, a junior and president of the USF PRIDE Alliance, will welcome guests.  Opening remarks will be presented by USF Vice President for Student Affairs Jennifer Capeheart-Meningall.  University Advancement’s Assistant Alumni Program Director Merrell Dickey will introduce Castor.  USF Associate Professor Jennifer Baggerly, counselor education, will present the organization’s PRIDE awards and Berkman, Dickey and Latoya Dowdell, assistant alumni program director will make the organization’s first ever USF LGBT Scholarship award presentation.


A substantive portion of the money for the scholarship was raised by the organization’s first fundraiser held last December which helped to establish the LGBT endowed scholarship fund.


“We will have business leaders in attendance, including the diversity team from Disney and people from the Tampa Bay Business Guild,” said Berkman.  “While we still have struggles in some areas, the LGBT community is coming into its own not just in the United States but around the world.  There is much to celebrate as we win some victories and discover we have many resources to bring to winning more in the years to come.”


This event is collaboration between CISOGI, USF PRIDE Alliance, Safe Zone and the USF Alumni Association.


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.