The Office of Minority Affairs and Diversitys new Ethnic Cultural Center will be named in honor of the late Samuel E. Kelly, the founding vice president for the office and a pioneer for diversity on campus. The UW Board of Regents approved the centers naming at a meeting Jan. 12.
Currently undergoing extensive renovation, the new Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center is scheduled to open in late fall 2012.
“We are excited about this opportunity to recognize Dr. Kelly and his contributions to both the University of Washington and the region,” said Sheila Edwards Lange, vice president for minority affairs and vice provost for diversity. “He opened the door for hundreds of underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students here at UW. Dr. Kelly set the standard for, and established a commitment to, diversity before it was popular among American colleges and universities.”
The center provides a learning environment where students and student organizations collaborate, develop, and implement programs while building leadership and organizational skills. It currently serves about 70 student groups and has been a “home away from home” for students of color since its inception in 1971. The original building was demolished last fall and a groundbreaking for the new facility took place on Oct. 12, 2011.
Kelly came to the UW in 1970 as the universitys first vice president for minority affairs. He also was the first African-American senior administrator at the UW. For six years, he led one of the strongest programs in the nation dedicated to integrating students of color at a major university. The innovative programs he developed to recruit and retain underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students continue to this day.
Since 2005, the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity has hosted a faculty lecture series honoring Kelly that showcases nationally recognized research focusing on diversity and social justice. He attended every lecture until his death in 2009.
His autobiography, “Dr. Sam: Soldier, Educator, Advocate, Friend,” written with the assistance of UW history professor Quintard Taylor, was published by the UW Press in 2010.