Schaffert receives Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to the LGBTQA+ Community

Timothy Schaffert

April 18, 2022 by Erin Chambers

Timothy Schaffert has received the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Contributions to the LGBTQA+ Community. This annual award recognizes outstanding efforts to create an inclusive, respectful, and safe climate for members of the LGBTQA+ community by advocating for individuals, groups, and issues at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Schaffert will be presented with the award during UNL’s Lavender Graduation—hosted by the LGBTQA+ Center, the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Gender and Sexual Identities, and the Chancellor’s Office—on Thursday, April 28 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Wick Alumni Center.

Timothy Schaffert is Susan J. Rosowski Professor of English, Director of the Creative Writing Program, and program faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies. He teaches courses in fiction writing and literature, mentors graduate and undergraduate students in creative writing, and helps coordinate the English major concentration in Queer Studies. Schaffert is the author of The Perfume Thief and five previous critically acclaimed novels. Queer characters feature prominently in his fiction: of The Perfume Thief’s story and main character, Lamba Literary wrote that “this novel gives imagination to the courage of queer lives during the Occupation. Clem embodies the wisdom of a fully-rendered life, filled with deception, compassion, and transformation. A luminous character invented to populate the queer history that was lost.”

Over the last several years, Schaffert spearheaded the department’s celebration of 50 Years of LGBTQ Studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The celebration commemorates UNL’s pioneering 1970 course, “Proseminar in Homophile Studies.” The course, designed and taught by English professor Louis Crompton and Psychology professor James Cole, received an unprecedented level of scrutiny by scholars, administrators, legislators, mental health professionals, and social activists. It also provoked hearings in the Nebraska Legislature before its first session had even ended. Nevertheless, the course was approved and added to UNL’s catalog, giving UNL the distinction of having the longest continuously running LGBTQ Studies programming in the U.S. The 2021-22 celebration has encompassed a wide variety of events and projects, including an evening with cartoonist Alison Bechdel; readings, lectures, and conversations with LGBTQ authors; a staged reading of materials related to the 1970 course; and the Love Library exhibit Unkissed Kisses / Untold Stories: LGBTQ+ Literature and UNL English.

In 2018, Schaffert launched The Reading Series, which showcases diverse voices and brings critically acclaimed writers to UNL’s campus. The series began in October 2018 with a visit from writer and UNL alum Roxane Gay, and has since featured poet Natasha Tretheway, author Jesmyn Ward, and (in conjunction with the 50 Years of LGBTQ+ Studies celebration) cartoonist Alison Bechdel. Along with co-editor SJ Sindu, Schaffert also leads Zero Street Fiction, a new LGBTQ+ literary series published by the University of Nebraska Press. The series is devoted to publishing novels and short story collections by new and established LGBTQ+ authors, with an emphasis on fiction that speaks to and illustrates diversity within queer communities.

“The dedication and commitment to the LGBTQA+ community on campus are evidenced in all that you do,” Chancellor Ronnie Green told Schaffert. “We are proud to bestow this award upon you.”