Fifty years of transformative power

ODI celebrates 50 years!

In May 2020, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion celebrated 50 years as part of The Ohio State University. The road we have traveled over this half century is a story we are just beginning to tell.

America was going through a dark time in late April 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. had just been assassinated. Within six weeks, Robert Kennedy would also be murdered.

When two Black students were unjustly ordered off an Ohio State shuttle bus by the white driver, the student-activists of the Black Student Union decided to act. By the end of that tumultuous day—April 26, 1968—43 students would be arrested for a daylong occupation of Bricker Hall, Ohio State's main administrative building. Eight students eventually would be expelled for their actions, but out of their struggle a seed would be planted and begin to take root—a notion that inclusion has merit and diversity brings us strength.

In reaction to the student protest, the university would establish a Black Studies Department in 1969 and, in 1970, would create an Office of Minority Affairs to recruit Black students to come to Ohio State. Other victories sought by those students would follow over the years—the establishment of a Black Cultural Center at Hale Hall, the hiring of more Black faculty and administrators, more student employment opportunities for Black students, to name just a few—and the office built from the bricks of their dissent would become the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI).

Now, with the calendar having flipped to 2020, ODI is celebrating its Golden Anniversary, a salute to a half century of advocating for all historically underrepresented students, faculty, and staff throughout the university.

We keep the spirit of 1968 alive in our work today, not through active rebellion, but through the peaceful actions of our flagship programs dedicated to championing underrepresented students as they successfully navigate our campus.

Actions like the Young Scholars Program, a scholarship pipeline from Ohio’s largest urban school districts to Ohio State that began 30 years ago and has brought the lifetime opportunities of a college education to thousands of first-generation college graduates. Or the Morrill Scholars Program, formerly the Minority Scholarship Program, Ohio State’s chief diversity/merit scholarship, which has gained acclaim in recent years for undergraduate academic stars thanks to a pair of Rhodes Scholars pulled from its ranks.

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