History of Diversity at OHSU

Diversity Mural

A Diversity Mural, located in the Peter Kohler Pavilion, honors significant events and people in OHSU's history that support diversity within the institution. These milestones include many firsts that have transformed the makeup of OHSU's workforce. Historical photos and information for the OHSU Diversity Mural were provided by OHSU's library and other sources.

View more photos of the unveiling event on Flickr

Key People Memorialized on the Mural

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.

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.