BEREA, Ohio —

Baldwin Wallace University was recently awarded with the 2019 Bruce G. Kriete Community Award from PFLAG Cleveland. 

In a ceremony held on November 11, 2019, President Bob C. Helmer and the Baldwin Wallace University Board of Trustees were presented with the annual award on behalf of the work the university has done in order to create a welcoming campus for the LGBTQ community. The ceremony, held at the Baldwin Wallace campus, was attended by students, faculty, staff, board members and parents. 

The Bruce G. Kriete Community Award honors an individual, or an organization, who has shown a great amount of courage by stepping out of their comfort zone to ensure the safety and inclusion of the Northeast Ohio LGBTQ community.

Earlier in 2019, Baldwin Wallace decided to officially end its affiliation with the United Methodist Church. The UMC tightened its prohibitions on same-sex marriage and the exclusion of admitting LGBTQ people in the clergy.

The founders of Baldwin Wallace University, who were part of the UMC, envisioned a community that includes everyone. No matter a person’s race, gender, or any other differences, Baldwin Wallace was founded on the commitment to providing education to all. The nearly 175-year-old institution continues its work the founders began. If parting with the UMC meant a more inclusive campus and school community, that’s what was going to happen, and it did. 

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“BW still abides by these values in supporting LGBTQ individuals as an essential part of its mission. PFLAG Cleveland’s advisory board is particularly aware that religion is probably the greatest impediment to acceptance of LGBTQ persons. The actions taken by BWU leaders took courage, making it  the perfect recipient [of the 2019 Kriete Award],” said Tom Falcone the president of PFLAG Cleveland. 

The award ceremony took place on the same day that the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music invited Gay/Straight Alliance high school members to  a special dress rehearsal of their production of the Tony Award-winning musical Kinky Boots. Themes found in the show directly relate to LGBTQ and diversity topics. 

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President Helmer said, “BW is honored to receive this award from PFLAG in recognition of our efforts to be a welcoming university that supports all and provides the same opportunities to all members of our community.”

School is a place of growth and expanding one’s knowledge and experience. Baldwin Wallace University has always been and will always be committed to continue doing just.