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The History of OMA&D: A Talk with Emile Pitre

May 17, 2018

Kane Hall / Room 120

7:30 p.m.

Presented in partnership with the UW Alumni Association


Emile Pitre has lived much of the 50-year history of the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity (OMA&D) at the University of Washington. For the past four years, he has researched that history, talking to many people who played crucial roles, and digging into the UW archives and other sources to document the remarkable story.

In this talk, moderated by OMA&D colleague Teri Ward, he will describe how a small group of students—especially those in the Black Student Union—were transformed into a revolutionary group of political activists who unapologetically demanded that the UW change the landscape of diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. Their efforts led to creation of a program that became a national model.

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Emile Pitre

Tracing the evolutionary journey of this program in 10-year increments, Emile will highlight the challenges that confronted the program’s eight vice presidents—from student and community protests to budget constraints and policy changes.  With active participation from students, community members, UW administrators, faculty, staff, and dedicated volunteers, strategies evolved to turn those challenges into opportunities.
The stories of students who overcame incredible odds with the help of services provided by the OMA&D family of programs, and who went on to succeed and help others realize their goals, have been a constant source of inspiration over half a century. Some of their accomplishments realized along this journey will be highlighted, as will selected vignettes of alumni who have gone on to have distinguished careers.
The talk will conclude with analysis of some of the data that demonstrate progress achieved in closing the disparity gaps in educational outcomes that inspired the creation of OMA&D, and a projection of what lies ahead, with strategies for ensuring future students the same kind of opportunities and success that have characterized the program for the past 50 years.

About Emile Pitre

Emile Pitre was a graduate student in chemistry at the University of Washington and a founding member of the Black Student Union at the time of the 1968 protest that led to the creation of the Educational Opportunity Program and the Office of Minority Affairs. In 1978, he joined the staff of the OMA as a chemistry tutor in the Instructional Center (IC). In 1982 he became the head chemistry instructor, and in 1989 director of the IC. In 2002 and 2004, he was promoted to assistant vice president and associate vice president, respectively, for Minority Affairs. By the time of his retirement in 2014, he was recognized as an “elder statesman” of the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, not only for his knowledge of OMA&D history but also for his dedication to student success throughout his career.

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