Loyce Stewart, Director of Affirmative Action Efforts at UB, Dies at 60

Release Date: April 13, 2005

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Loyce Stewart, director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Administration at the University at Buffalo, died at home on Monday (April 11, 2005) after a long illness. She was 60.

Stewart was respected by her colleagues and students for promoting the recognition and legitimacy of her office, which defended social justice on the university campus and helped enforce federal and state laws against discrimination in many forms.

She directed the office, which reports to the Office of the President, since 1999 and served as associate director from 1992-99. From 1990-92, she served as director of international protocol and community relations for the World University Games, held in Buffalo.

Stewart, the former Loyce Thomas, had a principal role in the work of the President's Task Force on the Status of Women at UB, which, in 1994, was charged with a study of inequity in hiring, promotion and salaries of women employees at the university and with assessing charges of sexual harassment directed at employees and students. The group's comprehensive report, issued in 1997, included recommendations for dealing with these issues and for encouraging the development of women leaders at UB.

Stewart also worked with campus leaders and the UB Faculty Senate to develop a comprehensive sexual harassment policy and procedure, which was issued in 2000 by former UB President William R. Greiner.

In a memorandum to the university's community, UB President John B. Simpson said Stewart's efforts "have played a substantial role in fostering a campus environment at UB that is characterized by collegiality, mutual respect and equitable opportunity, and they continue to have an immeasurable impact on our academic community."

Simpson noted that "a lesser known, but equally valuable, aspect of Loyce's service to the university has been her personal mentorship of numbers of minority students in the sciences, arts and

law. Over the years she saw these students move on to successful careers in their chosen fields, and has kept in touch with many of them."

Stewart's life partner, Masani Alexis DeVeaux, associate professor and former chair of the Women's Studies Department in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, added: "Working with students gave Loyce the opportunity to pass on her philosophy of social justice to them and to anyone they happened to encounter.

"She firmly believed that UB could be a university whose greatness would be defined by the diversity of its faculty, staff and student body, and its equitable treatment of all of them. She never doubted that the university could become a model community in this regard."

Stewart's expansive intellect and deep empathy made her extremely effective in her position. "She listened, understood and did not judge," DeVeaux noted. "From the time she took over as director, she was straightforward with President William Greiner and they had a mutual respect for one another.

"Loyce used her office well. She increased the staff and expanded the oversight and enforcement functions of the office. In doing so, she helped to change the culture of this university. We have lost a tremendous champion of justice," she said, a sentiment reiterated by many of Stewart's colleagues.

Stewart received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from the New York Institute of Technology and a Master of Arts degree in American studies from UB. She was working on her doctorate at UB at the time of her death.

She was predeceased by sons, Mark Etienne Stewart and Michael Martin Stewart. In addition to DeVeaux, Stewart is survived by her mother, Edith Ben Ali Thomas of Maryland; a daughter, Lori Stewart of Rochester; three sisters, Cheryl Jones of Tennessee, Michelle Thomas, M.D., of Washington, D.C.; and Donna McGruder of Maryland; her former husband, Michael Stewart of Auburn; three grandchildren, and a large extended family.

Calling hours will be from 4-8 p.m. Friday in the Amigone Funeral Home, 1132 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Blessed Sacrament Church, 1035 Delaware Ave. A celebration of Stewart's life will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 3105 Main St. near Lisbon Avenue.

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