UMD News Releases

Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

September 20, 2013
Cheryl Reitan | Associate Director of External Affairs | 218-726-8996 |
Rick Smith | American Indian Learning Resource Center Director | 218-726-6293 |

Elementary School Named in Honor of UMD Staff Member Ruth A. Myers

The Duluth Public Schools, ISD 709, has named their newest K-5 elementary school the Myers-Wilkins School after community leaders Ruth Myers and Marjorie Wilkins. A ceremonial ribbon cutting will be held at 1 pm on Saturday, September 21 at the school, located at 1027 N. 8th Avenue East.

The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) celebrates the naming of the school, along with the rest of the Duluth community.

Ruth A. Myers was known as the "grandmother of American Indian Education in Minnesota." UMD Chancellor Lendley C. Black said Myers was a persistent voice for American Indian education. "Ruth Myers deserves this recognition," said Black. "She made it possible for hundreds of UMD American Indian and other underrepresented students to graduate and successfully pursue careers in professional and medical careers."

Ruth Myers and her close friend Marjorie Wilkins worked tirelessly for years to improve human relations. Wilkins was the first African American woman graduate of St. Mary's School of Nursing and later became the first African American anesthetist at St. Luke's Hospital. She served as NAACP President and on the board of the United Way, as well as in many other service and leadership roles regionally and nationally.

Myers worked at UMD from 1973 to 1993, where she helped establish 16 of the 17 UMD American Indian programs for all students. She began work in the Department of Education and moved to the UMD School of Medicine where she served as co-director of the Center of American Indian and Minority Health. Upon her retirement, the University of Minnesota honored her by establishing the Ruth A. Myers Endowed Chair of American Indian of Education, UMD's first endowed chair. Myers received an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters in 1994 from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Myers was a member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. During her lifetime Myers represented the interests of American Indians in many ways. She was on as many as 70 boards and commissions. Myers served in many leadership roles, including the Board of Education of the Duluth Public Schools and the Minnesota State Board of Education. She was the recipient of several awards, including the Minnesota Indian Education Association Elder of the Year; Marvelous Minnesota Woman Award; UMD Chancellor's Distinguished Civil Service Award; and University of Minnesota President Hasselmo's Diversity Award. Myers died in 2001.

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