University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Feeling the Connection

Michael Brittenbac and Dr. William A. Meezan


Feeling the Connection

Dr. William A. Meezan ’67 says when he was at UVM back in the sixties, “first of all, there was no such thing as gay, certainly no safe place on campus, and nobody identified that way.” But as he’s reconnected with the university in recent years, he says, he sees that things have really changed.

Meezan was invited to give the keynote address at the LGBTQA Center’s Rainbow Graduation ceremony in the spring of 2012, and he says it’s no exaggeration to say that experience was “a highlight of my life.” More than three hundred people turned out for that event.

A national expert on child welfare, Meezan is currently a distinguished visiting professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, holding the Mary Ann Quaranta Chair for Social Justice for Children.

Key to reconnecting with UVM was meeting Dot Brauer, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning & Advocate Center, and Wanda Heading-Grant, vice president for human resources, diversity and multicultural affairs, who helped make his relationship with his alma mater as strong as it is today. “To come back forty-five years later as a gay married man and find this extraordinary resource for students was just so important for me,” he says. “It made me think about what it might have meant to me when I first started at UVM fifty years ago, to have had that available to me, and how much richer school would have been.”

Meezan and his husband, W. Michael Brittenback, have recently decided to show their appreciation of the work of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning & Advocate Center by making a provision in their will to endow a Meezan/Brittenback Fund for the LGBTQA Center. The main goals of the fund are to provide emergency financial assistance for students at risk of having to leave the university due to their financial circumstances; to establish new activities and services at the LGBTQA Center; and to enhance the center’s current activities and services.

When Dot Brauer learned of the pledge of support, she was overwhelmed. “The impact of Bill and Michael’s gift will be profound on this office,” Brauer says.
Meezan received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from UVM at the May 2013 commencement ceremony, and he is a member of the UVM Foundation Leadership Council. “My days at UVM were wonderful,” he reflects. “I’ve always felt a connection back there.”

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