Dec. 17, 2014. A center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their allies has been named for university benefactors Bo Henderson and Ed Springs of Blowing Rock.
Henderson, a 1979 graduate of Appalachian’s Department of History; and Springs, owner of Edward H. Springs Interiors in Charlotte, have supported university programs and activities since 2001. They have been partners for 31 years and married for the past three years.
Chancellor Sheri N. Everts said that since its opening in 2008 in Plemmons Student Union, the center has provided resources, support, advocacy, information and a welcoming atmosphere for LGBT individuals and their allies.
“Appalachian is committed to a diverse and engaged community, and this center stands as an illustration of that commitment,” Everts said. “This center can help educate the entire university community on issues of importance to the LGBT community, provide valuable insight on LGBT-inclusive university policies and develop an atmosphere of safety for students to feel comfortable in their own skin.”
“We are so grateful that we are able to support the LGBT Center and we are humbled by this naming honor,” Springs said. “Bo and I thought we were too old to start a new family, but we found out that this is not true. We now have a great family in our LGBT students and Appalachian State University.”
Carson Rich, president of the Student Government Association, said the center has been a catalyst for change and understanding and provides a safe haven to many students.
“This center has changed hearts. This center has changed lives. This center has changed Appalachian for the better,” Rich said. “It provides an environment where students are able to develop selflessness, other leadership skills and advocate for others, especially the LGBT community.”
The center is staffed by a graduate student and student volunteers.
“I work with and am friends with many people on this campus that are part of the LGBT community, and they are students that have experienced some tough and rough situations, some difficult circumstances that are hard to recuperate from,” Rich said. “To know that this center is here as a resource, a safe haven, and an advocacy center that makes Appalachian State what it is today, is a beautiful thing.”
Rich added that the center’s location in the student union shows “how important the LGBT community is to this university. This center is an asset to the students, and a home for many.”