Christopher Jorgenson, director of UW-Eau Claire’s Women’s & LGBTQ Resource Center, is UW-Eau Claire’s recipient of the UW System’s Dr. P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ People, presented during the system’s Board of Regents meeting Oct. 9.
With the involvement of 10 student interns from diverse areas of academic study, Jorgenson leads the planning of programs and events throughout the academic year. National Coming Out Day, National Day of Silence, Trans*Mission Week, Night OUT: Film Series, Walking OUT: An LGBTQA Graduation Celebration and The Fire Ball are some of the numerous events offered through the Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center. Under Jorgenson’s leadership, the Women’s & LGBTQ Resource Center was named 2012 Organization of the Year by the Fair Wisconsin Education Fund.
The Fire Ball alone has become the second largest event on campus, and in its four short years has generated approximately $40,000 to benefit students’ social justice advocacy. In addition, the Women’s & LGBTQ Resource Center is responsible for several crucial training programs on campus, including Safe Space training and bystander intervention training for sexual assault.
Jorgenson is frequently invited for speaking engagements, delivering presentations across the state that seek to expand participants’ views on sex, gender (identity and expression), sexual orientation and privilege — and the countless ways such identities intersect.
The LGBTQ programming for students developed under Jorgenson’s leadership is some of the best she’s seen in her 20-year career in student affairs, said Jacqueline Bonneville, UW-Eau Claire assistant dean of students and former facilitator of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee, which nominated Jorgenson for the award.
“Not only are his events creative, engaging and high quality, Chris makes it all happen behind the scenes and doesn’t seek any acclaim at these high-profile events,” Bonneville said. “Several of his programs have been nominated and won program-of-distinction awards from UW-Eau Claire's Student Development Council. It is truly about his desire to raise awareness on campus and let our students know they have a place.”
Jorgenson’s also teams with the women's program coordinator to support the women's issues programming offered by the Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center, doing numerous classroom presentations in an effort to emphasize intersectionality and cross-collaboration between the center’s programming areas.
“Chris welcomes this challenge and isn’t afraid of — and in fact encourages — any question,” Bonneville said.
“His openness and understanding really allows him to meet students where they are at and help educate them.”