December 1, 2015

University announces new Director of LGBTQ Student Life Office

Tobias Spears was announced as the University of Chicago’s new Director of the LGBTQ Student Life Office early last month.

As the Director of the LGBTQ Student Life Office, Spears will oversee all programs and services for students concerning matters of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“He will serve as an advocate for the concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, same-gender-loving, queer, and questioning students in the College, graduate divisions and professional schools, and as a resource and adviser for the LGBTQ community,” Karlene Burrell-McRae, the director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, said in an e-mail.

Spears will be replacing Jeff Howard, who stepped down early this summer to pursue graduate studies.

In this new role, Spears will provide opportunities to learn about identity development and understanding, intersectionality (the interconnected nature of different social identities such as race and gender), and other topics that encourage awareness and promote community for LGBTQ students and allies. This includes overseeing the office’s mentoring program, which connects LGBTQ students with LGBTQ faculty and staff mentors, as well as its safe space program, which trains the UChicago community to better understand and support its LGBTQ members.

Spears is the Assistant Director/Senior Coordinator for LGBTQ Programs and Services at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), where he is also a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the School of Cultural and Critical Studies, studying black queer representation in film and media. At BGSU, Spears heads the Safe Zone initiative, a workshop that increases awareness of issues pertaining LGBT students and aims to create a network of allies for the BGSU LGBT community. Spears also is part of the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion at BGSU.

Spears is a board member and secretary for Equality Toledo, an organization in northwest Ohio that works to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through education and activism.

Spears will officially join the UChicago community on January 4, 2016.

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