Lecturer Kristen Wyckoff was recently named a member of UT’s Commission for LGBT People, an advisory body appointed by the chancellor that helps with planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs, policies, and services designed to improve the status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people on the Knoxville campus. She will be serving on the equity and climate sub-committee.
Wyckoff, who received her bachelors and masters from Mercer University and her doctorate from UT, experienced her first positive LGBT role models as an undergraduate student—one was a professor, and one a leader of the church group she belonged to.
Despite having some mentors, Wyckoff says she really did not fully accept herself until around the time she moved to Knoxville for her PhD. She found a deeper sense of belonging and acceptance through the LGBT welcoming community of the Women’s Rugby team on campus. Now she wants to pay it forward.
“I specifically want to make this campus a better place for my students that need their second home to be welcome to their authentic selves and my fellow LGBT-plus peers in faculty and staff positions,” said Wyckoff. “College can be a particularly trying time for LGBT-plus students, and if we really want to say that ‘Vol is a Verb,’ and that ‘Vol means All,’ then we have to take action to make the college and work experience better for our LGBT-plus community here at UT.”
Wyckoff has taken steps to increase visibility by coming out to her peers in the department, to the Engineering Women’s Faculty group, as well as to fellow members of the United Campus Workers.
Wyckoff says that being a minority helps her be a better ally to other minorities on campus too. She’s currently going through the Safe Zone Training available through the Pride Center so she can better serve the LGBT-plus community.