Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion underwent changes during the the start of the fall semester on the Hill. They have hired a new director, Martin Olague ’04.
Last year we saw the departure of previous Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Bruce King as he transitioned to a position in Chicago. This left a vacuum that was filled by Taylor Center Director María C. Gautier Pabón, who during the summer of 2021 moved to the position of Vice President for Equity and Inclusion. Throughout these transitions, Martin Olague was keeping a close eye on the job posting.
Olague was interested in the opportunity to work at his alma mater. When Pabón took on a new role at the college, Olague knew it was time to make his move. At this time he was acting as the Equity and Inclusion Director at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. This experience combined with his other past jobs set him up for a smooth transition into his new role. Olague commented that he has had a “positive and exciting experience so far,” and what he is doing now is very similar to what he did in his position at UW River Falls. He is very comfortable with the responsibilities of the position, but getting used to the everyday procedures that differ between the schools.
Originally from Los Angeles, Olague has a lifelong passion for teaching and social justice. One of his first experiences with social justice was the violent arrest of Rodney King and the officers subsequent to criminal trial. When the officers were acquitted, he witnessed massive riots in his own city which sparked an interest in civil rights. When Olague went to college, he found the words to describe events of discrimination and his passion for social justice was renewed. He graduated with a degree in social studies and education, but quickly found his way into leadership roles in higher education.
Olague’s vision for the future of the Taylor Center has a focus on collaboration, with student groups, professors, and others who would like to contribute to conversations about equity and inclusion. He is also looking to deepen current connections between Taylor Center staff and students. Another long term goal is to host events that provide the opportunity for intersectionality between different identities and groups to enhance campus connections. Currently the Taylor Center team is working on organizing events for the academic year. Some tentative plans so far include an LGBTQ+ heritage event Oct. 20 to 23, with a rainbow run on Oct. 23, and event planning for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“The students are the drivers and we really need to focus on their experience. It is students’ time to leave their mark on the [Taylor] Center and it is our responsibility to empower the student to make their change,” Olague said.