Monthly Archives: November 2019

Kali Furman, Resident Scholar

During the month of August, the Resident Scholar Program at the Special Collections & Archives Research Center hosted Kali Furman, a PhD candidate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies here at Oregon State University. During her term of residence, Furman conducted a case study analysis of the formation of the Difference, Power, and Discrimination program at Oregon State University. The program was instituted by the university in the 1990s to promote diversity and social justice education in response to a string of racist incidents involving Oregon State students. While conducting the case study, Furman focused on what historical, contextual, and institutional factors come together to enable critical social justice education programs to take root and find success in higher education.

Kali Furman at the OSU Leadership Conference

Furman’s presentation of her research, titled “Student Activism and Institutional Change: A History of the Difference, Power, and Discrimination Program,” provided an overview of the social climate on Oregon State’s campus and the surrounding Corvallis community in the 1990s. Furman specifically documented a span of a few days in 1990, when multiple students of color were verbally assaulted by white students, leading to public protests and other forms of unrest on campus.

OSU President John Byrne responded to these high-profile incidents by tasking a commission to investigate them and to provide him with recommendations for moving the university forward. Furman’s research indicates that student leaders were not satisfied with this course of action, and that they demanded that the university implement required coursework related to issues of multiculturalism and diversity. Initially the administration was slow in its adoption of this idea, but by the 1991-92 school year, the Affirming Diversity Course Development Committee had been formed, which ultimately grew into the Difference, Power, and Discrimination program that exists at OSU to this day.

The creation of the program was a major success for student leaders and concerned faculty, but obstacles remained throughout the course of the decade. In particular, budget cuts enacted for the 1997-98 academic year threatened the existence of the program, which again caused protests and dissatisfaction among the student body. This time around, both students and the community rallied around the DPD program, publicly expressing their feelings about the value that the program brought to the student experience and the broader culture of Oregon State University. In response to this outcry, the OSU Provost’s Office provided interim budget support for the program, which finally received more stable funding in 2002.

For nearly thirty years now, the Difference, Power, and Discrimination program at Oregon State University has worked to develop a comprehensive curriculum that promotes diversity and social justice, while addressing institutionalized systems of inequity. A component of the university’s Baccalaureate Core, the DPD program also sponsors guest speakers, film festivals, informal workshops and seminars, and other special events.

A Century of Shakespeare at OSU

Puck, Ariel, and Romeo are familiar faces to the Beaver stage and their characters were brought to life by Professor Emerita of Theatre Arts Charlotte Headrick in a presentation on the history of Shakespeare productions at OSU. The event was organized by the OSU Special Collections and Archives in celebration of Oregon Archives Month and entertained 20 folks during their lunch hour on October 30th. In this quirky and fun overview, which began with a view from the first known student staging of a Shakespeare play (Julius Caesar) in 1895, Charlotte shared tales of near disaster (the actor who had to be roused from his bed at home to play his part on the opening night of the Merchant of Venice), unconventional productions (live chickens on the stage for Taming of the Shrew), and alums who would later shine bright in the world of theatre after OSU (Julyana Soelistyo, Michael Lowry, Soomi Kim, Sheila Daniels).

With a 35-year history of directing and performing in dozens of OSU theatre productions, Charlotte recounted stories of her many brushes with the Bard. These included details of the countercultural feel of a 2011 production of As You Like It where Charlotte played the character of Duke Senior wearing a patchwork quilt coat a la Ken Kesey. This play was a part of a very successful recent tradition of Shakespeare productions performed outdoors during the summer that began in 2006 and has continued on through this year. Posters for many of these annual “Bard in the Quad” productions were on display during Charlotte’s presentation, including the colorfully psychedelic one for As You Like It.          

It was very fitting that Charlotte showcased campus history for Oregon Archives Month. For the nearly 20 years that I’ve been at OSU, Charlotte has been helping us preserve documentation of university theatre through many transfers of photographs, posters, programs, and prompt books. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the images featured in the presentation came from collections in SCARC. Her own career at OSU is reflected in The Charlotte Headrick Papers (unprocessed and not yet available) and there are two oral history interviews conducted with Charlotte in 2015 and 2019.

Charlotte’s Shakespeare presentation was videotaped by SCARC colleague Chris Petersen and is already available online!

All the world is a stage and we are here to archive it!