UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Anthony R. D’Augelli, professor of human development and family studies, is the 2016 recipient of the Outstanding Service Award (Faculty) presented by Penn State’s Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Equity (CLGBTQE).
Each year the CLGBTQE recognizes the contributions of individuals in the Penn State community throughout the Commonwealth who have shown outstanding service and academic achievement in the areas of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) advocacy and scholarship. D’Augelli, with all 2016 honorees, received the award at an event in April at The Nittany Lion Inn commemorating the CLGBTQE's 25th anniversary.
“This recognition means so much to me because it reflects my commitment to use my background as a community psychologist and my long tenure in a department committed to understanding people and their families to generate research to help stop the marginalization of a community — the LGBT community,” D’Augelli said.
D’Augelli is an acknowledged expert on LGBT youth at Penn State and nationally. For decades he has used his understandings to improve the lives of countless students at Penn State, said Dana Carlisle Kletchka, CLGBTQE membership committee chair.
Kletchka said D’Augelli’s advocacy work with the CLGBTQE has resulted in substantial structural changes at the University that improve the quality of life, mental health, academic opportunities, and futures of untold numbers of students, faculty and staff.
“Dr. D’Augelli is, in a word, legendary on the Penn State campus. He has worked in various capacities — as a psychologist, a research coordinator, a professor, and as associate dean in the College of Health and Human Development — for over 40 years,” Kletchka said. “His long publication record, including edited books, articles and papers, reflects decades of research on aspects of identity and mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and the implications of coming out and living as a young, queer person, particularly in higher education environments.”
D’Augelli started his work with the LGBT community as a faculty adviser to the University's LGBT student group in the late 1980s and served as adviser for 10 years. In that role, he heard stories of abuse on campus as well as painful challenges faced while students were still in high school. He started collecting information on the students’ experiences on campus to convince administrators to take these students' lives seriously, and to be responsible for assuring them both safety and security. He published his first research paper on the experiences of Penn State students in 1989.
He said the unexpected resistance he experienced from administrators on talking about LGBT issues moved him to continue and expand his work, conducting research on LGBT youth in other communities who faced similar mistreatment. Thanks to his developmental focus, he realized that older adults who were LGBT were also at a disadvantage, and studied older LGBT people as well.
“I also realized that there was the need to develop an undergraduate course on LGBT issues to inform our students about this population,” D’Augelli said.
D’Augelli has taught the course Sexual Identity over the Lifespan (HDFS 250) in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) for more than 25 years. According to D’Augelli, the content of the course has helped affirm the lives of LGBT students in the class and helped other students develop an understanding of what their LGBT peers and family members experience.
“The course became an intervention, and I feel my greatest pride knowing how the course impacted the lives of so many students over all these years,” D’Augelli said. “In receiving the award, I realized that I had indeed integrated research, teaching, and service.”
D’Augelli joined HDFS in 1972. His hope for the future is to continue to influence the LGBT population through research and teaching, as well as lead the way for younger researchers interested in the field.
“Whatever pride I might personally feel is offset by the knowledge that the task remains incomplete,” D’Augelli said. “Knowing that anguish is still prevalent among LGBT people, that their families still struggle to accept them, and that some of their communities produce hurtful laws that exclude them, remains a motivator for me. The award is a much-appreciated acknowledgement of the past, but also a reminder of what's still ahead.”