The new assistant dean/director of the LGBT Campus Center is “thrilled” to join UW-Madison and work with LGBT students to connect their passion with their purpose.
Warren Scherer, who starts today, has 19 years of experience working with LGBT populations, the last nine of them in a university setting. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Scherer has called Wisconsin home for the last 13 years.
Previously, Scherer worked at the UW-Milwaukee LGBT+ Resource Center and at Project Q, the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center’s youth program. Scherer also served for four years on the board of the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, including two as co-chair.
“My values include equity over equality; dignity; temperance; and originality,” says Scherer, who identifies as queer and biracial and who uses the pronouns per and pers. Per contributed to the “What Are You?” A NASPA Multiracial Knowledge Community’s Stories Project in a piece titled “Declined. Declined. Accepted.” about racial authentication. On a personal note, Scherer listens to musicals regularly and hopes to see “Hamilton” in 2018.
What are you most looking forward to at UW-Madison and specifically at the LGBT CC?
I am not sure I can identify one aspect; my excitement gets the best of me at times. I am thrilled to be joining a storied and regionally, as well as internationally, well-regarded institution, and an impressive team in the Campus Center (CC). Additionally, I am looking forward to the collaborative work and the learning-growth opportunities within the CC and across the Division of Student Life.
What will be the most challenging part of transitioning from (UW-Milwaukee) Panther to Badger? What are you most exciting about?
I have had nearly ten years to cultivate a community, a work family, with the Panthers. It has been challenging to leave that community and prepare to embark on this new journey. As for what excites me about becoming a Badger, there are several standout elements. The newness and challenge of the transition, as well as the role it presents are exciting. Learning so much and sharing that knowledge throughout the journey adds to the excitement. Fostering new relationships and establishing another community contributes (to my excitement).
I cannot forget to mention I will be extending a family connection in becoming a Badger, as two of my brothers-in-law attended UW-Madison. When I told them about the job, they smiled widely and said, “My favorite place on earth is there.”
What motivates you and your work?
Wow, I am consistently flummoxed when asked this question. A list comes to mind because I cannot readily identify one thing that motivates me:
- Optimism – I am annoyingly optimistic, and when presented with a challenge or an impediment, I immediately begin generating ideas for how to respond, i.e. possibilities.
- Wanting to make a difference – I aspire to be like the mentors and caring professionals who intervened with and invested in me. A student affairs professional at Richard Bland College of William and Mary (in Virginia) changed my experience; I would like to be to others what she was to me.
- Bearing witness to my own experiences with inequity over the course of my life.
- Philosophical grounding within the dignity framework, the social ecological model, the entrepreneur’s mindset, and recognizing the profound influence of the social determinants of health.
- The question: “What have you done today to make you feel proud?”
At the Division of Student Life, we help our students connect their passion with their purpose. What does that mean to you?
What immediately comes to mind is inspiration and encouragement. I see this as a charge to get to know the students with whom I work in order to learn their passions and aid in making the connections with their purpose. Whether that is learning/leading through storytelling, a motivational interview, listening fully, asking questions, or any other opportunity that presents itself to make a referral and help connect the dots. Helping also means communicating clearly and authentically about the enthusiasm and uncertainty with which I would reply. I see follow-up as a necessary component, both while the student is on-campus and after they graduate, to maintain a genuine relationship.
What do you want your legacy to be both professionally and personally?
A change agent invested in doing the right thing to address inequities rather than perpetuate them, and who left an impression, not a void.
What are your hobbies, interests?
How much time do you have? Seriously though, I will list a few:
- Speculative/science fiction – My favorite speculative fiction writer of all time is Octavia E. Butler. I enjoy reading dystopian fiction, young adult, and contemplating the other art forms birthed by speculative/science fiction stories.
- Travel – Two of my life goals are linked to travel: to step foot in all 50 states and to step foot on all continents.
- Culinary exploits – I am an admirer of foodie culture; I enjoy exploring new foods and restaurants as well as experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes and modifications to classics. I watch cooking shows for ideas.
- TED Talks – The videos, radio shows, and think pieces about them, I consume them voraciously. For years, one of my go-to thought-provoking “intro” questions, typically to student affairs professionals, was “if you could do a TED Talk on any topic (does not have to be work related) what would it be?” My topic was finding chosen family.
- Comic books and the works they have inspired — exclusively Marvel Universe though, no time for DC. I contemplate when to attend my first Comic-Con.
- Crochet – I have been working on a king size afghan for over 10 years. I only work on it during the winter because it gets so hot.
- Disaster preparedness (master’s research)
- Continuity of operations plans
Once again, welcome to UW-Madison, Warren. Thank you for your commitment to our students.