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Joe Acanfora


Joe Acanfora 1950 -

Joe Acanfora is an openly gay man who, in the early 1970s, fought to become an earth science teacher in the public schools of Pennsylvania and Maryland. His fight between 1971 and 1974 over a series of transfers and dismissals by authorities from his public school teaching assignments based upon his acknowledged homosexuality involved litigation through the federal court system; expert witness court testimony on the effect of an openly gay teacher on his students; extensive media coverage, including an appearance on CBS 60 Minutes a morality investigation by the Penn State University Teacher Certification Council; and active participation of his parents in the public debate. Details of this four-year struggle, including court briefs and transcripts, media coverage, the full morality investigation transcript, and letters from the public can be found at

After the U.S. Supreme Courts denial of certiorari effectively ended efforts to regain his teaching position with Marylands Montgomery County Public Schools, Acanfora eventually launched his career in a new direction in 1978 at the Berkeley campus Office of Research Administration. He successfully completed 25 years of effective administration and management in UCs research administration and technology transfer operations and retired in 2003. His tenure with UC included serving as Director of the Office of Extramural Funds at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and as Director of Policy and Campus Services within the UCOP Office of Technology Transfer. He worked extensively with UCB faculty and staff to build stronger research and funding relationships with industry while protecting faculty and students freedom to publish and disseminate research results, guarding against conflicts of interest, and attempting to preserve other core University principles.

During his time with the University, Acanfora continued to work to advance the rights of gays and lesbians, serving as one of the first members on the board of directors of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation; leading the efforts of the East Bay Democratic Clubs successful efforts to have the City of Oakland adopt a non-discrimination ordinance; and working with other UC employees in their successful efforts to convince the UC Regents to extend health and related benefits to domestic partners of UC faculty and staff employees.

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