The informal domestic partnership committees become a formal initiative of Kent State’s branch of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Domestic partner benefits become a bargaining request during every contract negotiation. Dr. Molly Merryman leads the initiative and becomes the first leader of AAUP's LGBT Faculty Concerns Committee.
In the spring of 2001, Kent State University becomes the first university in Ohio and one of a dozen LGBT Studies programs in the country. The program formally begins in the fall 2001. Professors Robert Johnson, Molly Merryman and Gertrude Steuernagel develop the initiative. Dr. Johnson coordinates the program from 2001-2004; professors Richard Berrong and Daniel Nardon co-coordinate from 2004-2009; and professors Molly Merryman and Daniel Nardon co-coordinate from 2009-present.
Fusion Magazine (thatgaymagazine.com), which addresses issues of sexual minorities, begins in 2003. The magazine (in both print and electronic versions) has won several national awards for student journalism.
In 2003 the Curry and Myers Scholarship for LGBT Studies minors is established. Then in 2008 Akron businessman Harry Jackson pledges a $2 million gift for LGBTQ+ students.
In 2006, incoming Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton promises the AAUP LGBT Faculty Concerns committee chair he will work to extend domestic partner benefits to Kent State faculty and staff and address the concerns of sexual minorities at the university. In 2008 both chapters of AAUP and university administration agree on contracts that extend benefits. Domestic partner benefits (for same-sex and opposite-sex partners) begin to be offered in 2009. In 2008, he appoints Dr. Merryman on the Commission of Inclusion, and in 2009, he appoints her on the search committee for the vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.