A New President for a New Era of Diversity and Community Engagement
Just hours into his first morning as President of The University of Texas at Austin, Gregory L. Fenves left campus to meet with East Austin community leaders at the David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. While responding to questions during a panel discussion with Gregory J. Vincent, vice president of diversity and community engagement, Fenves noted that although there had been a history of poor relations between the university and East Austin, he hoped to build on the momentum of a string of successful partnerships. He finished by saying he would continue to rely on the community for support in the university’s diversity and community engagement initiatives.
If there were any doubt as to whether or not President Fenves would be as strong on diversity as his predecessor, it was immediately laid to rest.
Of course, President Fenves’s stance on diversity should come as no surprise. As executive vice president and provost, he consistently defended the educational benefits of diversity, leading initiatives designed to increase minority enrollment.
In outlining his vision for the university’s future during his inaugural address, Fenves reaffirmed his commitment to excellence and diversity.
“As we plan for the future of the university, we do so mindful not only of where we are going, but of who we are,” he said. “We are a diverse community that is able to address the challenges facing the world in part because our student body looks like the world.”
With the recent announcement that the Supreme Court will reconsider a challenge to the university’s limited consideration of race in its admission policy in Fisher v. Texas (the Supreme Court had previously remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit court in 2013), the topic of diversity on the Forty Acres is sure to become a hot button topic once again.
“We know that students have a better educational experience in diverse classrooms, and we know that the best environment we can provide our students is one in which we prepare them for the society and workforce they will enter after graduation,” Fenves said. “As the president of UT Austin, I will always do what is in the best interest of our students.”