The author, currently president of Hampshire College, previously taught classics and comparative literature at Berkeley, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Yale University, and served as executive dean of letters and science at Berkeley. A version of this essay first appeared in Inside Higher Ed (insidehighered.com), January 25, 2007.
I can’t say that I was surprised that some of the inquiries and interviews that followed my appointment in 2005 as the fifth president of Hampshire College, in Massachusetts, had to do with the fact that I arrived at the president’s house not with a wife, and certainly not alone, but with my partner of 27 years. Of our nation’s several thousand college and university presidents and chancellors, an exceedingly small number are known to be gay or lesbian. The word was that I might just be the first gay male president of a residential college, and certainly, along with friend and mentor Charles R. Middleton, president of Roosevelt University in Chicago since 2002, among the first few who have not been closeted.