Skip to Main Content

UAS pays tribute to professor emeritus and educational equity champion Dr. Lawrence Lee Oldaker

Dr. Oldaker was a life-long champion of educational equity.

Juneau, Alaska

Date of Press Release: August 4, 2021

Lawrence Lee Oldaker, credit: Michael Penn
Lawrence Lee Oldaker, credit: Michael Penn

Dr. Lawrence Lee Oldaker, Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska Southeast, passed away on August 1, 2021 after a long illness. Dr. Oldaker had a long and distinguished career in education, beginning in the deep South and ending in Juneau, Alaska.

Dr. Oldaker was a life-long champion of educational equity. He opened the first desegregated elementary schools in Laurel Bay, South Carolina as superintendent of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort schools during the turbulent days of the early 60s when threats from the KKK and other opponents of integration were deadly and real. For weeks, the Corps stationed armed guards around both the school and Dr. Oldaker's home.

Dr. Oldaker brought his crusading zeal to Alaska at a time when the state was facing its own challenges in providing equal educational opportunity for Alaska Native students, particularly those in rural villages. The decentralization of the former State Operated School District into locally-controlled Regional Area Attendance Areas and the abolishment of state-run boarding schools in favor of local, village high schools called for teachers and school administrators who understood and supported diversity. Dr. Oldaker provided these skills to several generations of Alaskan educators through his program development and coursework at UAS. Joining the university (then known as UASE) in 1975, Dr. Oldaker developed the first Master’s Degree in Education Administration which graduated many of the state’s leaders. He retired in 1999, but continued to provide insight and guidance both in Alaska and at national and international conferences. He was especially noted for his expertise in school law, particularly as it related to equity issues.

UAS and countless educators throughout Alaska offer Dr. Oldaker’s family our heartfelt condolences and express gratitude that we were enriched by his grace and guidance.

Additional Resources

Press Release Contact

Keni Campbell
University of Alaska Southeast
(907) 796-6509