by Walter Kraft, Published October 19, 2010
YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University alumnus and former Regent Timothy Dyer is pledging a $1.5 million planned gift to the University for the establishment of the Dr. Timothy J. Dyer Distinguished Interdisciplinary Chair in Forensics/Debate and Human Rights. The Chair would lead in the creation of the Center for the Study and Research of Equality and Human Rights in the College of Arts and Sciences. The activities of the Center would be coordinated in the Department of Communication, Media & Theatre Arts in collaboration with Eastern's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center and other academic units. The funds will be bequeathed to the University from his estate upon his death.
"Hate is an evil and destructive emotion," said Dyer. "It ignores reason and intellectual inquiry and should be eradicated whenever it raises its ugly head. The only way to do this is through educated enlightenment. We have seen over our own short history that education is the most effective way to eliminate prejudice, ignorance, discrimination and hate."
Dyer received his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Eastern. He served in the education field as a teacher, debate/forensic coach, and principal and also was mayor of Ypsilanti from 1968 to 1970. He simultaneously held positions as the superintendent of the Wayne-Westland school district and on the EMU Board of Regents (1973-1983), before he left the state to become superintendent of the nation's largest high school district, in Phoenix, Ariz. In 1990, Dyer accepted the position of executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, serving in that capacity until 1998.
"I am honored and grateful that Timothy Dyer has determined that students and faculty will continue to benefit from his great allegiance to our institution," said Susan Martin, president of Eastern Michigan University. "This gift ensures that he will remain an important and active contributor to the mission of Eastern Michigan University."
In addition to this bequest, Dyer has sponsored two campus-wide events on matters of eradication of homophobia -- the April 2010 Eric Alva lecture on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and an upcoming panel discussion "Race and Sexuality," that will take place on Tuesday, October 26. This event will begin with a celebration luncheon at Eastern Michigan University's Student Center ballroom. The luncheon will feature a keynote address by Dr. Dwight McBride, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago. McBride is the author of Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch: Essays on Race and Sexuality, co-editor of the award-winning fiction anthology Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay, and Bi-Sexual African American Fiction, co-editor of the special issue of Public Culture titled One Hundred Years Of The Souls Of Black Folk: A Celebration of W.E.B. DuBois, and co-editor of Melvin Dixon Critical Reader. He is currently at work on two new book manuscripts tentatively titled: Poetics, Politics, and Phillis Wheatley and White Lies in the Republic: Race, Sexuality, and the Law.
Following the luncheon, the "Race and Sexuality" panel discussion will take place featuring Dr. McBride as well as Charles Pugh, president, Detroit City Council; Dr. Dyer; Jay Kaplan, ACLU of Michigan; and, Dyann Logwood, instructor, EMU Department of Women's and Gender Studies.
The event is part of an entire month of activities at Eastern Michigan University related to Dyer's gift announcement and as part of national LGBT History Month. The gift and announcement of the Center for the Study and Research of Equality and Human Rights will be celebrated at the Tuesday, October 19 meeting of the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents. It also will be recognized on Saturday, October 30 at the Eastern Michigan University Forensics Hall of Fame induction ceremony, in which Dyer will be among the inductees in recognition of his contribution and long-time support of debate and forensics -as a student, coach, teacher, and administrator.
Dyer's gift is a significant contribution to Eastern Michigan's recently launched comprehensive campaign, "Invest. Inspire. The Campaign for Eastern Michigan University." Through this fundraising campaign, EMU is seeking $50 million in philanthropic support from alumni and friends, businesses and foundations, parents and employees. This support will allow EMU to sustain its current excellence while also adding new resources, key capital projects and programs, through its endowment. The campaign has, thus far, raised more than $36 million. Additional information is available at www.emufoundation.org.
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