Pam Buchmeyer

New LGBT alumni group helps dedicate GLFD reception room in Simmons Education building

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

After several failed attempts, a new LGBT alumni group formally launched at Southern Methodist University this week with a reception at the Simmons School of Education on Monday, June 27.

To go with the school’s Mustang theme, organizer and SMU Law School alum Pam Buchmeyer dubbed the group GALLUP — Gay And Lesbian League of University Persons.

“I’m not sure why it took so long to do it,” said GALLUP member Jim LeCroy.

Organizer Shellie Crandall suggested that it just took a little persistence and a call to the alumni association from the dean of the Simmons School, David Chard, who is openly gay.

The group’s goal is to be inclusive. Although under the alumni association banner, faculty and staff, current students and those who’ve attended but not graduated are welcome to join.

Affinity groups are formed within alumni associations to encourage donations, and Buchmeyer said that she made a donation to the school for the first time through a project of the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas.

GLFD set a goal of raising $25,000 for the dean’s reception area in the new Simmons School of Education building. That building opened in September of 2010.

Two plaques were placed in the reception area: One honors the donation on behalf of the GLFD, and the other lists names of individuals or couples who donated $1,000 or more to the school.

Chard said that anyone waiting to see him will see the plaques.

Buchmeyer said that in its first week, GALLUP had about 30 people sign up. More than 40 attended the reception.

“We also hope to be a bridge to the community for SMU students,” Buchmeyer said.

Chard addressed the group at the plaque’s unveiling.

“You don’t come to work everyday to be the gay dean,” he said.

But he said he has been out since he was first interviewed for the position and unquestionably been accepted.

Since he came to SMU, Chard said, the Simmons School of Education has partnered with the LGBT community in several ways. Its donation to Black Tie Dinner is the largest donation made to any outside organization by any of SMU’s schools.

Simmons also partners with Resource Center Dallas to provide a counseling program.

Chard noted that when the program was first proposed, he was told that no one would want to go work there. Instead, the program has a waiting list of students who want to do their internships at the community center.

He said that when RCD expands into its new building, he expects to expand the counseling program.

Buchmeyer said that GALLUP plans to hold two events each year including something at homecoming in October.