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Equal Opportunity Management Institute Opens New Campus

By Army Master Sgt. Christopher Calkins
Special to American Forces Press Service

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Jan. 14, 2004 – The new home of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute officially opened here today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
David S. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, cuts the ribbon to open the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute's new two-story, 92,000-square-foot campus at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 14. Photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Calkins, USA.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

A new campus task force was established in the early 1990s, construction began in April 2002, and DEOMI's first students in the new Mediterranean-style structure on the Banana River will begin class later this month.

Chu commented on the factors that led to DEOMI's emergence more than 30 years ago.

"Years ago, our military was deeply troubled with racial unrest, and turmoil plagued several military installations and ships. None of the military services was exempt," said Chu, who left the U.S. Army as a captain in 1970.

"In some cases, these civil disturbances directly interfered with the military's ability to execute its mission and fight effectively," he said. "It's not what we have today; it's a totally different picture."

To counteract these disturbances, an interservice task force was formed to examine the causes and find possible cures for the racial strife within the services.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Lucius Theus was chosen to head the task force, which resulted in a Defense Department directive establishing a race relations board, and, in 1971, creating the Defense Race Relations Institute, the original name for DEOMI, which was renamed in July 1979.

Since its first seven-week course, the institute has expanded to meet the needs of field commanders and agency heads. As a result, DEOMI now addresses a wide array of issues, including sexism, extremism, religious accommodations and anti-Semitism.

Along with the institute's 15-week Equal Employment Advisor's Course, several workshops, seminars and courses have been added, to include senior leader seminars designed for newly selected generals, admirals and senior executive service personnel.

The new campus meets requirements of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, allowing for a myriad of equal employment opportunity courses and seminars to be taught on site for the first time, officials said.

A 20 percent increase in student load facilitated by the new campus will raise DEOMI's annual total to approximately 1,500 in-resident students.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Gregory Pavlovich, 45th Space Wing commander, said today's ribbon-cutting ceremony culminated years of hard work by scores of people. And, the general added, they seemed to know what they were doing. "Good planning does produce good results," he said.

Pavlovich added that the road immediately outside the facility has been renamed to honor a group of World War II-era pilots, America's first black military airmen. "We have renamed it Tuskegee Airmen Drive. What a fitting tribute to the DEOMI mission, and it was absolutely the right thing to do, for Patrick Air Force Base and DEOMI," Pavlovich said. Near the end of the 70-minute ceremony, Navy Capt. Robert D. Watts, DEOMI's commandant, introduced two men who had a most positive influence on DEOMI, and on the equal opportunity field as a whole.

"Although the ribbon-cutting ceremony is done, our ceremony is not complete until we dedicate two state-of-the-art rooms in recognition of the contributions of two DEOMI pioneers," Watts said.

"Look around at this grand auditorium we are in today incredible, flexible, innovative, creative. And as you can see, this room directly reflects the man it is named after: Maj. Gen. Lucius Theus is all that, and more," the commandant said, to a huge roar of applause.

Theus, who took time to recognize, thank and acknowledge his wife of 61 years, Gladys, said "no one can do anything alone." He then asked who, more than 30 years ago, would have ever thought DEOMI would have survived all this time, with all that our country and military have been through.

"But it has survived, flourished and become an integral and indispensable part of our Department of Defense. Our troops today are more combat ready than ever," said the institute's founder.

Watts again took the podium to recognize Claiborne Haughton Jr., for whom the new 15,000-plus volume DEOMI library was named. "(Haughton) began his career in 1967 as a quality assurance trainee. Twelve years later, he became a GS-16 and subsequently a charter member of the Senior Executive Service," said Watts. Haughton retired in 2001 as the acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for equal opportunity.

"Mr. Haughton impacted the development and coordination of equal opportunity policy and programs affecting both military and civilian personnel within the Department of Defense. He also has provided over 20 years of leadership and guidance to DEOMI that has been integral in our success," Watts said.

"I am full of gratitude and great pride," Haughton said. "We stand on the shoulders of giants," he added, casting a glance at the Air Force officer who got DEOMI started more than 30 years ago.

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David S. Chu

Related Sites:
Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute
Tuskegee Airmen

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