Published September 5, 2013
George D. Unger, founding director of UB’s Educational Opportunity Center who then went on to lead the university’s affirmative action efforts, died Aug. 29 in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. She was 89.
Unger, who grew up in New Mexico and Texas, always said her father named her George and her sister Jimmie because he wanted boys.
Both her parents were educators, and Unger followed in their footsteps. She worked in the Dallas school system for nearly 20 years, then began an eight-year affiliation with San Francisco State College and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1963 as an education adviser for Liberia. While there, she worked with the Zorzor Rural Teachers Training Institute and helped develop a school system for Monrovia, the Liberian capital.
She met her future husband, Peace Corps teacher Martin Unger, in Liberia. In 1972, she moved to Buffalo and the two were married.
Unger returned to academic life the following year, becoming the founding director of the EOC and later coordinator of UB's affirmative action programs under Jesse Nash, then director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Human Resources. She became the university’s chief affirmative action officer in 1990.
Among Unger's numerous contributions to UB were coordination of the university's observance of the International Year of the Woman, organization and chairmanship of the campus statewide Employee Assistance Program Committee, and presentation of classroom guest lectures and local, national and state workshops and seminars.
She worked on more than a dozen university committees during her 21-year career with UB, including the Professional Staff Senate, the Anti-Rape Task Force, the University Committee on Student Retention and the Distinguished Service Professor Selection Committee.
In addition, Unger was adviser to the campus chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, an examiner for qualifying oral examinations of candidates for classified service positions and an outside hearing officer in grievances processed on other SUNY campuses.
She retired from UB in 1994.
Unger’s commitment to equal opportunity and affirmative action extended beyond campus boundaries and into the Western New York community. She was active in the Buffalo Urban League, the YWCA Board of Directors, the Buffalo Foundation and numerous other civic groups.
Funeral services will be held in St. Thomas.