Though the inauguration of university president Dr. Michael Lovell was a time to look forward, one important inaugural event offered the chance to look back on a banner moment in Marquette history.
As part of the festivities, the Educational Opportunity Program sponsored an academic symposium to reflect on the university’s response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. The response included the founding of EOP at Marquette in 1969.
Marquette’s EOP became the model for similar educational programs established around the country. And that legacy extended even further when founding director Dr. Arnold Mitchem, Grad ’81, became president of the national Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C.
EOP, which receives funding through the U.S. Department of Education’s TRIO program, is an academic program designed to motivate and enable low-income and first-generation students — those whose parents do not hold baccalaureate degrees — to enter and succeed at Marquette.
Scheduling the symposium as part of the inauguration festivities resonated with EOP director Dr. Joseph Green: “I think it speaks so highly of Dr. Lovell’s commitment to access, inclusiveness, and the ability to try to reach all people in the university and the Milwaukee community.”
The symposium on campus in October featured a panel of experts on education, including Mitchem; Dr. Theresa Perry, a Simmons College professor and co-author of Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Achievement Among African-American Students; and Margaret Hoyler, Arts ’70, Law ’79, current president of the Council for Opportunity in Education. Participants reflected on the growth of EOP and how it gave students role models for success.
“There were very few students of color and, I would imagine, probably very few first-generation and low-income students as well at Marquette,” Green says. “Now we have a number of students who fit the profile of those original students. Because of the legacy of success of those students, the expectations are still as high as they were then, but we have their shoulders to lean on.” • CJ
WATCH A VIDEO about the founding of EOP at marquette.edu/eop-documentary.