April 27, 1924 - August 29, 2013
George D. Unger, a pioneering educator and college administrator who worked to provide equal opportunity and equal access to women and minorities during her 21-year career at the University at Buffalo, died Thursday in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. She was 89.
The former George Ethelyn Dykes, 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 Mrs. Unger would follow in their footsteps, first as a teacher in the Dallas school system. She earned a master’s degree in education from Prairie Valley Community College in 1956.
After nearly 20 years in the Texas school system, Mrs. Unger 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. There, she worked with the Zorzor Rural Teachers Training Institute and helped develop a school system for the Liberian capital, Monrovia.
It was in Liberia that she met her future husband, Marvin Unger, a teacher with the Peace Corps. In 1972, she moved to Buffalo and the two married.
Mrs. Unger returned to academic life the following year, becoming the founding director of the University at Buffalo’s Equal Opportunity Center and helping put affirmative action policies into place. She became the university’s chief Affirmative Action Officer in 1990.
At UB, she coordinated the university’s observance of the International Year of the Woman, was chairwoman of the campus Employee Assistance Program Committee, and served on several committees, including the Professional Staff Senate, the Anti-Rape Task Force, University Committee on Student Retention and the Distinguished Service Professor Selection Committee. She lectured extensively and was also an adviser to the UB chapter of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Elsewhere in Buffalo, Mrs. Unger was active with the Buffalo Urban League and served on the boards of the YWCA and the Buffalo Foundation. After her husband died in 1993, Mrs. Unger began spending her winters in St. Thomas and in 1997, she made the island her year-round home.
Services will be held in St. Thomas.