Sociology professor awarded highest honor at Pride Awards

By Felix Sarver

DeKALB | Kristen Myers, sociology professor and LGBT studies coordinator, was awarded one of the highest honors at the 17th annual Pride Awards Dinner on Friday.         

Myers was given the Eychaner Award for faculty and staff members who have improved the lives of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  

“Her enthusiasm and passion for her work encourages those around her to never settle, push a little harder, to improve a little more,” said Norden Gilbert about Myers in an introduction at the awards ceremony. Gilbert works on the Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

The award was named after Howard and Milly Eychaner said Molly Holmes, director of the LGBT resource center. The Eychaners were known for their outspokenness on LGBT issues in DeKalb, especially at churches where tensions about the inclusion of gay attendees arose.

Myers has been the coordinator of the LGBT studies program for two years. The program offers interdisciplinary courses concerning issues of sex and gender. The classes can range from literature to social science to marketing.

“She has been a hero,” said Debra Miller, program coordinator of Student Support Services, about Myers’s efforts to keeping the program running. Miller said she has worked with Myers in the Presidential Commission for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

As the coordinator, Myers is responsible for raising funds to keep the program running.

Myers said she was adamant about receiving funds for the program for 2011. The program is not part of NIU’s permanent budget, and appeals for funds must be made on a semester-by-semester basis, she said.

“Kristen, who has been the coordinator for the last two years, does the work to immediately keep LGBT studies afloat, on top of her regular teaching and administrative duties as an associate professor of sociology,” Gilbert said. “This is no small task.”

Sarah Hanson, a sociology graduate student who works with Myers, said she has helped her to work more efficiently and be aware of every angle in her own work. Hanson helps Myers collect data for budget plans for the LGBT studies program.