The Oldest Center in Iowa 

The Center was opened on or prior to November 18, 1992 in 62 Memorial Union. It was staffed by a part-time graduate assistant working 20 hours per week. At that time, the office was called Lesbian Gay Bisexual Student Services (LGBSS); its mission was to “develop programs and services to better the campus climate for LGB students” and to “coordinate efforts to retain LGB students at ISU.” In the fall of 1996, LGBSS expanded its name to better reflect the services and outreach to students who identify under the transgender umbrella, renaming the office Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Student Services (LGBTSS). In the summer of 2017, after more than a decade, the office expanded its name, mission, and vision to better reflect the range of student identities and became The Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success.

From its founding until 2008, the office operated under the leadership of graduate assistants who collaborated with student leaders, staff, and faculty to improve the services and programs offered, including the expansion of the Speaker’s Bureau and creation of the Small Victories Celebration, Lavender Graduation Celebration, and a Safe Zone Program. Some of these programs continue in the present, while others served as the foundations for newer programs and traditions. 

In 1997, administrators in the Dean of Students office recognized the need for more resources to support The Center and began lobbying for the office (then LGBTSS) to be staffed full-time by a professional. In fall 2008, the first full-time professional staff member was hired to coordinate The Center. This was followed in Fall 2010 by the expansion of The Center to offer a more student-friendly space full of resources for the campus community. These changes have provided consistency in service, support, and leadership in campus initiatives and programming. This continuity of service also ensures that The Center space will continue to be a welcoming, safe space on campus for students to explore their identities, receive support, and be better equipped to succeed at Iowa State.

In a historic move, The Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success expanded and moved to 3224 Memorial Union on December 21, 2018. On Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at 5:00pm, we opened the doors, for the first time, to The Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success in our new location in 3224 Memorial Union. The Grand Opening program included brief remarks at 5:05pm, unveiling ceremony at 5:10pm, and a guided tour of the new Center at 5:30pm with remarks that followed.

Most recently, The Center moved spaces again in May 2022, opening in 4600 Memorial Union following renovations to the MU. In Fall of 2022, The Center marked 30 years of LGBTQIA+ Student Success at Iowa State University. In March of 2023, a celebratory Gayla was held to celebrate this milestone, complete with performances by the Des Moines Gay Men's Chorus and remarks from campus leaders. Thank you to all those who have and continue to assist the Center in supporting LGBTQIA+ student success!

If you have more information to contribute to the history of the Center or LGBTQIA+ initiatives at Iowa State, please contact us. If you are a student and interested in LGBTQIA+ history, please consider contacting our staff for more information on volunteer, internship, or practicum experiences to help research LGBTQIA+ history at Iowa State.

Queer History at Iowa State