The Biological Sciences Department is delighted to congratulate Dr. Brent Stockwell, who has been selected as a recipient of the Dean Peter Awn Commitment to the LGBTQ Community Award. Students nominate faculty for this award, which recognizes an exemplary faculty or staff member who has exhibited a commitment to the LGBTQ community in their work at Columbia University.
Dr. Peter Awn, for whom this award is named, was a former Jesuit priest and scholar of Islamic religion who served on the faculty at Columbia from 1978 to 2019. Awn was a professor of religion as well as dean emeritus of the School of General Studies. According to the Columbia University LGBTQ+ Guide created by the Office of the Provost, “For a time in the 1980s and 1990s, Awn was one of a small cadre of faculty members willing and available to speak on behalf of gay and lesbian issues at any and all campus events and task forces. As one of the founding members of CU-GABLES—a “lesbigay” faculty, staff, and supporters organization, he was at the forefront of a years-long effort in the mid-1990s, spearheaded by Jonathan Cole, provost at the time, to convince the University Trustees that domestic partner benefits be extended to all at Columbia.” After his death as a result of a tragic accident—he was hit by a car as he walked home from campus—the Spectator wrote, “A man known for his socks, suspenders, and mischievous smile, Awn mentored thousands of students through a critical juncture of their lives, and, for many, often for years beyond—officiating their weddings, meeting their children, and cheering them on in the New York City Pride parade.”
Dr. Stockwell was honored with the Dean Peter Awn Commitment to the LGBTQ Community Award on May 4th, at Columbia’s Lavender Graduation Ceremony. Lavender Graduation celebrates graduating LGBTQ and allied students in Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, School of General Studies, and Barnard College. It is one of several multicultural graduation celebrations at the university. “This ceremony, first started at the University of Michigan in 1995, is now conducted at hundreds of universities nationwide. The color lavender, adopted by the gay movement in the 1960s, is the main color of Sayville (Gayville), NY. Sayville is near Fire Island, where the veterans of Stonewall hung out. This history of New York is honored during the ceremony. Lavender Graduation is co-sponsored by Multicultural Affairs, Undergraduate Student Life, Lavender Grad Committee, Columbia Pride (alumni group), and Columbia Alumni Association.”
This award is one of the LGBTQIAwards, which recognize outstanding Columbia and Barnard students, staff, faculty, and alumni who have taken on significant leadership in the areas of LGBTQ and ally advocacy, education, community building, and mentorship.