Our History: From Community Activism to an Established Center

Multi-colored closed fist demonstrating solidarity

The Racial Equity and Inclusion (REI) Center’s development came from community activism from OHSU’s graduate trainees, staff, and faculty members from the Alliance for Visible Diversity in Science (AVDS), a campus advocacy group focused on increasing and supporting PEER (People Excluded based on Ethnicity and Race) graduate students, postdoctoral scholar, staff, and faculty. AVDS members recognized that in order for OHSU to become an anti-racist institution, we needed a holistic approach. In a 2020 recommendation, AVDS members showed the limitations of OHSU’s current approach and proposed a new model, named the REI Center model. To get a detailed understanding of the REI Center concept, please read the original proposal.

AVDS publicly shared their proposal to OHSU’s Board of Directors in July 2020. This proposal was of interest to Dr. Peter Barr-Gillespie, OHSU’s Chief Research Officer, who agreed to support a pilot of this model under the Research and Innovation Office.

The creation of the REI Center springing from the activism of a campus advocacy group shows our connection with our community members. In fact, all our current REI Center employees were involved in either the creation and/or function of AVDS and continue to be involved today. Our community ties and experience give us a necessary and unique perspective that we believe guides our anti-racism efforts.