The Holocaust Memorial Program at Oregon State University is supervised by the Holocaust Memorial Committee. This committee operates through the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion at Oregon State, but it is wholly responsible for all aspects of the program, including fund-raising, publicity, and arrangements for the annual observance of Holocaust Memorial Week. Funds for the program are held in an account at the OSU Foundation. Membership on the committee is intended to reflect a “town-and-gown” philosophy, for as has been noted the program is directed toward serving not only this campus but the broader community. Therefore, membership typically includes: OSU faculty, regardless of discipline; students; teachers or other representatives of S. D. 509-J; and clergy.
The Holocaust Memorial Program at OSU was initiated in January 1987, when the university provost and vice-president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Graham Spanier, authorized his assistant vice-president, Dr. Miriam “Mimi” Orzech, to establish a committee that would organize and direct a program in recognition of “Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust,” the week-long observance created by act of Congress in 1979. Since that time, the Holocaust Memorial Committee has remained in continuous existence, as has the program that it coordinates.
Until 1994, Mimi Orzech served as chair of the committee, and the program continued to operate out of the Office of Academic Affairs. On Mimi’s retirement as a member of faculty – though not as a member of the committee – the chair was assumed by Dr. Paul Kopperman, who has held the position since (Dr. Neil Davison served as acting chair in 2002-03, while Dr. Kopperman was on sabbatical). Also in 1994, the program was, for administrative purposes, transferred to the Department of History at Oregon State.
Members of the committee have a deep appreciation for the program and the benefits that it provides, and for this reason membership is rather stable. Six members have been on the committee for more than ten years, and ten have served for four years or more. Nevertheless, each year new members are added, and of course students on the committee graduate, being replaced by others who bring in different perspectives and interests.
In 2012, the department, hence the program, was incorporated in the new School of History, Philosophy, and Religion. Regardless of its home, however, the committee has enjoyed complete independence regarding membership and inner structure (portfolios, etc.). Members have their particular responsibilities. Each spring, after Holocaust Memorial Week has past, the committee meets to assess the week in order to judge which aspects should be strengthened in anticipation of the next set of observances. Spring meetings also provide an opportunity to plan for the next Memorial Week. Members of the committee suggest many events, but we also pursue suggestions made by students or faculty at OSU, or by friends of the program who are unaffiliated with the university.
Davis-White Eyes, Allison (director, Intercultural Student Services)