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OHSU unveils commemorative wall to celebrate decades of diversity

Event Information


Oregon Health and Science University unveils 25 foot-long commemorative wall chronicling major events in OHSU's history to honor and celebrate diversity.


Wednesday, June 29, at 1 p.m.


OHSU Kohler Pavilion - Meet in the OHSU Hospital ninth-floor lobby to obtain directions to the event.

Passengers traveling to and from the Portland Aerial Tram will notice a major addition to OHSU's Kohler Pavilion this week. On Wednesday, June 29, OHSU will unveil a new diversity wall. The wall chronicles significant events in OHSU's history that recognize diversity within the university's workforce. The wall also highlights major diversity milestones in the United States. Historical photos and information for the OHSU Diversity Wall came from OHSU's library and other sources. The wall was proposed and planned by OHSU's Diversity Advisory Council.

“OHSU is committed to being a diverse organization,” said Norwood Knight-Richardson, M.D., M.A., M.B.A., vice president and chief administrative officer at OHSU. “This week we will observe OHSU’s past milestones in becoming an organization that values diversity on several levels. These milestones include the many firsts that helped transform the makeup of OHSU’s workforce. In addition, because we are an academic institution, we also celebrate the diversity of ideas that are generated by an organization that seeks to be inclusive.”

“Diversity fosters innovation and builds a vibrant environment promoting creativity and new ways to fulfill OHSU’s mission of healing, teaching, discovery and community service,” added Leslie Garcia, OHSU’s assistant provost for diversity.

The new wall will be unveiled along with the portraits of two people who played crucial roles in expanding Oregon's diversity: OHSU's Dr. Clarence Pruitt and Jean M. Richardson. The wall and portraits are in close proximity to OHSU's historical wall. Both of these displays will great visitors as they travel to and from OHSU via the Portland Aerial Tram. Some of the key people and programs memorialized on the diversity wall and the portraits include:


Clarence Pruitt, D.M.D.

Pruitt was the first African-American to graduate from the University of Oregon Dental School (1949). In 1957 Pruitt was refused office space in Portland's Medical Arts Building because of his race. He subsequently became the first African-American to establish a successful dental practice in the Selling Building. As a response to this discrimination, the Portland District Dental Society adopted a resolution condemning any building owners who would refuse to rent office space based on an applicant's race, religion or national origin. Pruitt went on to become the first African-American part-time faculty member in the School of Dentistry, working closely with Dean Louis Terkla and Keith Claycomb in the recruitment of minority students to the School of Dentistry. Pruitt's family is planning to attend the event.

Jean Richardson, B.S.C.E.

Jean Richardson graduated from Oregon State University in 1949 with a degree in civil engineering. She persevered through discrimination at school and at work and paved the way for women in a field largely dominated by men. She began working pro bono for an Alabama engineering company until her employer deemed her work competent. Jean went on to own her own company and became the first woman to head maintenance engineering for the City of Portland. She helped to found the Alabama chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and served on its Board of Directors. She also served as coordinator for Mathcounts in Oregon and Alabama – a national program targeted at 7th-and 8th-graders interested in math. Richardson ended her long career in civil engineering working on Portland's Columbia River sewage treatment plant. As a pioneering Oregonian, Richardson was honored by OHSU in 2007 as a namesake for Portland’s new aerial tram.

Frances Storrs, M.D.

Storrs was the first woman resident accepted at the medical school and the first female resident to complete all of her training in the school. Storrs joined the faculty in 1968, the only female member for 21 years in the Department of Dermatology. In 1971 Storrs, while attending an event honoring a visiting dermatologist, was asked to leave Portland's Arlington Club on the basis of her gender. This was a profound moment for Storrs, as she experienced discrimination first hand. This event influenced Storrs' life and career, as she later fought for equal pay for women in the medical school. When OHSU started an Affirmative Action committee in 1983, Storrs served as the first chair.


The Intercultural Psychiatric Program (IPP) was developed by J. David Kinzie, M.D., in 1977 to provide culturally sensitive mental health services to immigrant and refugee communities. Bounsang Khamkeo, Ph.D., works with both the IPP and the Avel Gordly Center. Originally from Laos, Khamkeo was held as a political prisoner in Northern Laos’s Slow Death Camp from 1981 to 1988. Staff, including Khamkeo will attend the event.

The Avel Gordly Center for Healing is a program of the Department of Psychiatry. The center meets the mental health needs of the diverse communities of Oregon, with special focus on African-Americans. Staff will attend the event.

Opened in 1975, the Russell Street Clinic was founded by David Rosenstein, D.M.D., M.P.H., to provide treatment to the elderly, homeless, low-income families and migrant workers. The clinic continues to operate today and is staffed by School of Dentistry students and faculty. It has since become a national model for how to treat low-income, homeless and HIV-positive patients.

OHSU’s first minority affairs office was established to recruit and support underrepresented minorities. As a result, OHSU’s Minority High School Apprenticeship Program began in 1981 when J. Peter Bentley, Ph.D., received a National Institutes of Health grant to fund the program. OHSU continues to provide outreach to promote careers in health and science to diverse student populations. Elizabeth Britton, R.N., B.S.N., served as the first director for the Office of Minority Affairs.

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