Founder of Penn LGBT Center Bob Schoenberg dies at 76

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Founder and long-time Director of the Penn LGBT Center Bob Schoenberg died suddenly on Monday from cancer.

Schoenberg — who received a master of social work and a doctor of social work from the School of Social Policy & Practice in 1968 and 1989, respectively — founded the LGBT Center in 1982 after witnessing a Penn sophomore being severely beaten and targeted on Locust Walk for being gay. He served as the LGBT Center’s director for 35 years until retiring in 2017.


Schoenberg was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1944 and died at a residential hospice in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, according to his obituary.

According to the LGBT Center website, while Schoenberg was a doctoral student at Penn, he was hired to work three days per week as a “point person for lesbian and gay student concerns.” He was the second person in the country to have such responsibilities at a college or university, his obituary reads.

“Bob was an ardent advocate for, and mentor to, a countless number of LGBTQ+ students during his 35 year career. We will never know exactly how many people his work touched, but we do know he will live on in each of their hearts.”