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Samuel E. Kelly Distinguished Faculty Lecture

Established in 2005 and named in honor of the UW’s first vice president for the Office of Minority Affairs, the annual Samuel E. Kelly Distinguished Faculty Lecture is dedicated to acknowledging the work of faculty whose nationally-recognized research focuses on diversity and social justice.


This event is being offered both in-person and will be livestreamed virtually. Please select the registration path that corresponds with your preferred method of attendance. In-person registration includes a lecture reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres and beverages. The virtual livestream registration will include a link to the livestream.

Both the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center and the Alder Hall Auditorium are accessible for people with limited mobility. The lecture will be accompanied by an ASL interpreter and will include CART captioning.


Headshot of Joanne Woiak

Engaging Disability, Empowering History:
Ethics and Politics of Disability History

Featuring Dr. Joanne Woiak

Associate Teaching Professor
Disability Studies Program
University of Washington

Dr. Woiak’s lecture will be followed by a Q&A session.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023
Reception: 5:00 PM | Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center
Lecture: 6:00 PM | Alder Hall Auditorium



For questions, contact OMA&D Advancement at

This event will have ASL interpreters and CART captioning live. The recording of this event will have closed captioning.
Alder Hall auditorium has limited wheelchair-accessible seating.
To request disability accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office at 206-543-6450 (voice), 206-543-6452 (TTY), 206-685-7264 (fax), or
The University of Washington makes every effort to honor disability accommodation requests. Requests can be responded to most effectively if received as far in advance of the event as possible, preferably at least 10 days.


This year marks the 50th anniversary of Section 504, the first disability civil rights law enacted in the United States. In this lecture, Dr. Woiak will explore questions about how the histories of disabled people and the concept of disability are remembered and forgotten. When society, academia, and historical records marginalize and erase disability, whose stories are left untold? And what are the consequences for people with disabilities today?

Disability historians examine the archives through the critical lenses of disability studies and intersectionality, producing and making accessible new knowledge about lived experiences and cultural beliefs around disability. Drawing from the example of studies of the Black Panther Party’s role in the fight to implement Section 504, the lecture will address the impacts of engaged and empowering directions for historical inquiry into disability activism, politics, and community.


Joanne Woiak, Ph.D. is Associate Teaching Professor and Associate Director of the UW Disability Studies Program in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Adjunct Associate Teaching Professor in Bioethics & Humanities in the School of Medicine. Her courses and research investigate topics in the history of disability, the history of the eugenics movement, the intersections of gender, sex, and disability, and disability studies interpretations of speculative fiction texts.

Her research interests encompass the social justice implications of knowledge about genetics, reproduction, and health in the modern era, in relation to disability in American and British history and culture.

She has studied and published on the history of forced sterilization and constructions of mental disability in Washington state, the rhetorical uses of eugenics in public discourses, SF representations of disability and eugenics, and disability pedagogy. She is active in developing curriculum and pedagogy for the Disability Studies Program and supporting UW student disability organizations and activism. She is a past president of the Society for Disability Studies, the major international organization that promotes DS research and teaching.


Dr. Samuel E. Kelly
Dr. Samuel E. Kelly

Dr. Samuel E. Kelly was hired as the first vice president for the newly formed Office of Minority Affairs in 1970. Also the first African American senior administrator at the UW, Dr. Kelly was an educational advocate who opened doors for hundreds of underrepresented students at the UW. Many of the programs and services that he established during his six-year tenure still exist today. Among his accomplishments was securing funding to house sites for both the Ethnic Cultural Center (renovated and renamed in his honor in 2015) and the Instructional Center in 1971. Dr. Kelly passed away on July 6, 2009.