MAY 2014

Message from Dr. Vincent

Dr. VincentI had the honor of videotaping an interview for NASA's MissionSTEM Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Series today. It served as a reminder of how crucial K-12 education is to ensuring that our students from diverse backgrounds enter the STEM fields once they enter college. Student achievement in the STEM areas depends on a rigorous high school curriculum in mathematics and science—curriculum that under-resourced schools often lack. It is also dependent on having high-quality teachers who can spark the interest of our young students in the STEM fields. At UT Elementary School, the STEAM program integrates science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with the arts. Students at every grade level have the opportunity to learn about computer programming, engage in science experiments and work with complex concepts that carry over into other subject matter areas. The excitement of third graders presenting their first robotics project is palpable.

This type of early interest pays off. Economic forecasts indicate that 1 million additional STEM graduates will be needed over the next decade to fill America's economic demand. Our country will not be able to maintain its technological edge without ensuring that a large segment of our growing population of diverse learners moves into the STEM fields. We will be focusing more than ever on STEM initiatives during the upcoming academic year through our Academic Diversity Initiatives and programs that address the education pipeline, from PreK-Ph.D. We urge you to stay tuned by visiting our web site, utexas.edu/diversity for updates and new stories and we promise to keep you posted through DDCE@UT.

GJV signature
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent
Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement
W.K. Kellogg Professor in Community College Leadership
Professor of Law


Humanities Texas Honors UT Elementary's Mary Ledbetter

Mary LedbetterCongratulations to UT Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Mary Ledbetter! Humanities Texas has honored Ledbetter with the James. F. Veninga Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award. Each year Humanities Texas honors eleven exemplary teachers; out of this group the organization chooses one to receive the Veninga Award.

Ledbetter will receive $5,000 along with the award and UT Elementary School will receive $500 to purchase humanities instructional materials or to improve humanities courses and programs.

A teacher for nearly 25 years, Ledbetter is passionate about connecting the students to social issues worldwide. She and her fifth graders have fundraised for H2O for Life the past five years. She has previously been named Outstanding Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the National Council of the Social Studies. In 2013 she was co-author of an article, "Bringing Civil Rights Figures to the 'Peace Table,'"published in Social Studies and the Young Learner. Read more.

Lavender Graduation Celebrates LGBTQ Students and Allies

Lav GradThirty-five 2014 University of Texas at Austin graduates and alumni participated in the seventh Lavender Graduation ceremony hosted by the Gender and Sexuality Center and Queer Students Alliance on Wed. May 14.The Queer Chorus provided music for the ceremony and University of Texas Libraries staff member Jason Sick served as the head of ceremonies. Graduating senior Kora Noel Cook was the student speaker and Rev. Dr. Dan De Leon, pastor of the Friends Congregational Church in College Station, Texas, delivered the keynote. Dr. Mark Musick was honored with the Lavender Spirit Award and Dr. Lyndon Gill received the AIR Award.

The ceremony was followed by a reception at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center hosted by the Texas Exes LGBT Alumni Network and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

UT alum Dr. Michael Barnes, a columnist and reporter for the Austin American Statesman, was honored with the first LGBT Network Community Leadership Award and UT staff member Erin Burrows was honored with the Lynne Milburn Award. Read more.

Native Austinite Carves Out Lasting Legacy Through DDCE

Why UT Alum Byron Anderson Believes in Planned Giving

Byron AndersonSince graduating from The University of Texas at Austin in 1988, Byron Anderson has been an active and enthusiastic alumnus.  He is a present member in the Texas Exes Houston chapter, has served on the Texas Exes Advisory Council, and has served two-terms as chair of the Texas Exes Black Alumni Steering Committee. However, it was the work of the DDCE that eventually attracted his focus, contributions and loyalty.

"When Dr. Vincent first came to UT we met and he shared his vision," Anderson recalled. "It was so positive and impactful, and it made me want to get involved more and work with him to achieve his goals…cultivating a space where global education, diversity and inclusion is celebrated is so important. I am most proud to be a part of a group of people who are truly a voice for the University."

Byron Anderson's service lineage and ancestral impact on the Austin area reaches back several generations, a narrative that seems inextricably linked to his own hopes of building a lasting legacy. Anderson's family foot print in central Texas includes his grandmother, Petrenella Johnson McConico, who graduated in 1934 from the historically black college, Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University) and his grandfather, Garfield McConico, Sr., who was elected as the first African-American City Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem of Round Rock. From an early age the example of Anderson's grandparents to enrich one's life through education, globalization and giving, impacted his academic, social and professional pursuits. Read more.

Ge Chen Study Abroad Scholarship Established

The Ge Chen Study Abroad Endowed Scholarship was recently established to honor Dr. Ge Chen's career and legacy. We want to raise $25,000 for an endowment within DDCE by October 2014 so that the first scholarship may be awarded to a deserving student for the 2015 Beijing Maymester trip.The endowed scholarship will be dedicated to supporting low-income, first-generation, students of color in the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence (LCAE) participating in the LCAE Maymester programs to China and South Africa.

Dr. Chen was assistant vice president for academic diversity initiatives prior to her retirement in January 2014. She also oversaw the federal TRiO programs (Longhorn Link and McNair Scholars programs) within the LCAE. If you are interested in donating to the scholarship, please click here.

If you need additional information, please contact Dr. Charles Lu via email charles.lu@austin.utexas.edu.

Ge Chen with Students in Bejing
Dr. Ge Chen takes a break with students Jazmon Marshall and
Wesley Nash at the Summer Palace in Beijing last summer.


May 31: Mamas of Color Rising Collective Pregnancy Clinic Event

Mamas of Color RisingMother's Day is not enough; May is Mother's Month! Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman and the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex are partnering to present an event on Saturday, May 31, from 2 to 5 p.m., for Austin area women, and in particular, moms and moms-to-be.

Activities for those in attendance include free massages, facials, fresh fruit smoothies, face painting, children's games and activities, and a raffle of gift certificates. The first 100 women to attend receive a free T-shirt.

Vibrant Woman Pregnancy Clinic/ Mama Sana Clinica Prenatal was developed to address longstanding health disparities within the low income Latino and Black communities of Austin, according to Paula Rojas, program coordinator. More than 25.9 percent of Latina women in Austin receive no prenatal care, compared with 7.8 percent of white women. Travis County's infant mortality rate was recorded as 5.8 per 1,000 live births for white women and 20.5 – or more than 150 percent higher – for black women. Read more.

Editor: Leslie Blair. Web: Jason Molin

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