Despite the recent departure of former Larry Kramer Initiative director Jonathan Katz and persisting tensions between Larry Kramer ’57 and the University, LKI will sponsor two visiting professorships and several speakers this semester.
Yale faculty affiliated with Lesbian and Gay Studies are working with the Development Office to secure new funding for LKI because Arthur Kramer ’49’s $1 million donation in the name of his brother will run out this year — a problem that has prevented the program from hiring a replacement for Katz. But Larry Kramer said he is unwilling to participate in fund raising for the program because he remains dissatisfied with its emphasis on gender studies instead of gay history.
Marianne LaFrance, who heads the faculty Committee on Lesbian and Gay Studies, said the program is a priority for fund raising during the University’s capital campaign, currently in its silent phase.
“The bottom line is that it is unfortunate that Jonathan decided to leave in the middle of the year, but all of the programming and all of our plans are going ahead,” LaFrance said.
Lesbian and Gay Studies, which includes LKI, is itself a part of the program in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies. LKI began in 2001 with the grant from Arthur Kramer, which covered the program’s expenses for five years. The donation funded Katz’s salary before he left Yale at the end of last semester for a post at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
But Larry Kramer, the program’s namesake, said he was upset by Katz’s departure, which Kramer said was due to pressure from within the University. At the time of his departure, Katz told the News that he was leaving Yale to focus on his scholarship and because Yale did not grant him a leave of absence to complete a book.
“So far as I know, Yale is doing nothing,” Kramer said. “To my knowledge, there is no fund raising going on for LKI, and at this moment you could almost say there is no LKI because Jonathan has left.”
LaFrance said that unless funds are raised specifically for LKI, that part of lesbian and gay studies at Yale would lapse, although the visiting professorships currently funded by the Provost’s Office would continue.
“When [the Development Office has] even a glimmer of an idea that an alum might have some interest in this area, they will in all due haste try to explain what we’re doing and get some support for that,” LaFrance said.
But Kramer said he thinks it is unlikely that more funds will be raised for LKI unless he renews his support for the program.
Kramer said he is currently unwilling to help the University raise funds to continue LKI because he is dissatisfied with the program and its placement in the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies program. Last year, Kramer publicly called for the University to transfer the program to the Department of History because he said the initiative was originally supposed to focus on gay history.
Kramer said he is concerned that Katz’s departure will further dilute the program’s emphasis on history, unless the University successfully woos historian George Chauncey ’77 GRD ’83 from his tenured post at the University of Chicago.
“I’m exceptionally well known in the gay world, and I think that gay donors will be reluctant to fund all of this knowing that I am presently so unhappy,” Kramer said.
While LaFrance said hiring Chauncey would be “terrific,” she said it is difficult to hire a scholar who already has tenure at another University.
“George [Chauncey] would be fabulous, but there are many, many other people who are also good,” LaFrance said.
Because of the uncertainty of future funding, there is no search ongoing for a replacement for Katz, LaFrance said. As fund raising continues, she said, the program will reevaluate what kind of faculty and administrative structure it wants to put in place.
This semester, visiting professors David Agruss and Megan Sinnott are teaching courses in Lesbian and Gay Studies, and LaFrance said she is already reviewing applicants to replace Sinnott, who will leave after this term. In addition, LKI will continue to sponsor a series of speakers discussing issues in lesbian and gay studies.