CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University held a grand opening for its newest center on Tuesday on the first day of Black History Month.

Many gathered in Memorial Union Room 61 at noon to celebrate the new Griggs Center for Black & Indigenous Student Success.

The center was created to increase access and academic success and retention for Black, Native American, Pacific Islander and Alaskan Native students.

Officials said the center will offer academic counseling, tutoring, supplemental instruction, writing center support and peer mentoring, as well as snacks.

Dorian Smith is the director of the center. 

“A lot of times we try to support folks because it’s so big, in a one-size-fits-all manner, and that is not always the best way to support students. So we want to give folks that individualized support,” Smith said. “I think this stands out from other opportunities and other places, especially the cultural centers in this specific way is that we are really focused on our academic support of students, so just like we all have different cups to fill. I might have a cup to be filled culturally, I might have to go to a sports game so I can feel a part of the community, I might have to take some time to study. And each one of those cups need intentional support.”

Dr. Lawrence Griggs is the center’s namesake. Griggs was director of the Educational Opportunities Program at OSU from 1986 to 2008. He died in 2020.

Former Multnomah County commissioner Loretta Smith is also a former OSU student. She said she first met Griggs in 1982. 

“I just think it’s so amazing and outstanding that the university would honor Dr. Griggs with this center to help BIPOC students of color,” Smith said. “Larry Griggs was an embodiment of a navigator. He helped me so much. And I totally cancelled my schedule today so that I could come down here and give a few remarks to the students, because it means so much that we continue his legacy.”

KEZI 9 News also spoke to several students who went to the grand opening. 

Michelle Wambui is a junior at OSU. She shared her excitement about the center. 

“It is really really important to see a center that has been created for inclusivity of such communities, the minority communities,” Wambui said. 

Jorge Barajas is an indigenous student from Mexico. He is a part of the Living Learning Community Hall, another academic program for black and indigenous students. 

“I think the hall and this Griggs Center has made it possible for me to explore my identity and meet with other people who are also indigenous,” he said. “Also for like younger generations to like have them see that there’s people like them being successful in college and maybe in the profession that they’d like to be in.”

Several other events are planned through Black History Month at the university. For a full list, CLICK HERE

Article was originally published by KEZI.