Campus mourns loss of Fran McDaniel

By Meghan Finlayson

Staff Writer

Fran McDaniel, the University’s former director of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Awareness, passed away while visiting family in California on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

McDaniel was licensed in Pennsylvania and California to counsel on issues of gender and sexuality, as well as sexual orientation issues and resources. She came to the University in 1998 as an adviser. She then grew to serve as the Director of the Office of LGBT Awareness and had many significant accomplishments on campus.

“Fran was easily one of the best colleagues I’ve ever had,” said Tracy Shaynak, director of the Women’s Resource Center.

“She used to joke that she was the paid professional lesbian,” LGBT office manager Kristin Vallis ’11 said.

McDaniel, known simply as “Fran” by students and faculty, was noted in particular for her work with the Safe Space Program at Bucknell, which has received national recognition.

The Safe Space Program involves students reaching out to peers through discussions in Greek organizations, sports teams and other groups on campus.

“Fran had been putting this program in place for about 10 years now. She really wanted to create a space where groups could ask questions and start a conversation about coming out. This past year was kind of a breakthrough year because we were asked to four conferences … Fran was really the person behind getting us out there and getting us in front of people,” Vallis said.

The first conference was held at Bloomsburg University. Information on the development and effectiveness of the University’s Safe Space Program was presented. The next two will be held this semester at Indiana University and at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Minneapolis, Minn.

“Fran has many people in different organizations around the country that respected her and saw her as someone who was a visionary and someone who would stop at nothing,” Vallis said.

“Her work was never about Fran … it was really all about the students; they were the reason she was here,” Shaynak said.

“Fran was the face of the officeshe was very good at being involved with the campus. For example, if students were athletes, she would go to their games. She held confidence with her students, and she was really funny,” Vallis said.

She personally touched the lives of many students.

“She knew exactly what we needed to hear exactly when we needed to hear it. She taught me how to take pride in myself on levels I never knew I could reach,” Karel Parve ’12 said.

“Students have said very clearly, ‘I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Fran,’” Shaynak said.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, students, faculty and administrators gathered in the Terrace Room to share memories of McDaniel and support each other as a community.

“It was a very comforting environment in that most of the people who came were her close friends, and we all shared the pain of the tremendous loss,” Parve said.

There will be a celebration of McDaniel’s life at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 12 in Rooke Chapel. Memorial contributions may be made in McDaniel’s memory to the University’s Office of LGBT Awareness, 100B Roberts Hall, Lewisburg PA 17837.

“The LGBT office is very thankful to the campus community for their support and love during this period. Everyone has been absolutely wonderful and we can truly sense how loved Fran was by so many on campus,” Parve said.

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