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May 12, 2016

Obituary: William Arthur “Bill” Savage

obit.bill savageWilliam Arthur “Bill” Savage, former assistant to the chancellor and director of affirmative action at Pitt, died April 25, 2016. He was 70.

Born and raised in the Cabrini-Green housing projects of Chicago, Savage understood that access to higher-level education laid the foundation for socioeconomic equality.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and a master’s in educational administration at Illinois State University.

Throughout his life, Savage fought for equal opportunity, especially for minorities and the disabled. In his senior year of college, following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Savage helped found an effort to recruit African-American and Latino students to the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign. In 1968, the initiative enrolled over 560 students from all over the country, changing the history of the campus as a result.

Savage started his career in higher education at Illinois State, serving as assistant director and coordinator of academic support services for the high potential student program, 1971-73; adviser and coordinator of the Academic Advisement Center, 1975-77; and the university affirmative action officer, 1977-80.

He left Illinois State in 1980 to join the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign as assistant chancellor and director of affirmative action. While there, he helped students on the campus organize a chapter of the NAACP, according to a former colleague.

He stayed at the Urbana/Champaign campus until 1991, when he joined Pitt as assistant to the chancellor and director of affirmative action.

In retirement, he remained in Pittsburgh, pursuing his passion for collecting and preserving African-American art. He served as an art consultant and curated local art exhibits, collaborating with local and national artists.

In addition, he was a member of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church and a member of the core/steering committee mentoring program for middle and high school students.

Savage is survived by his children William A. Savage Jr. and Michelle T. Savage; and siblings Phillip, Kenneth, David and Vivian Savage.

(Editor’s note: William Savage Jr. contributed to this obituary.)

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