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Dr. Gregory VincentMessage from Dr. Vincent

I had the honor of visiting the White House with others from Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity in October. We met with Attorney General Eric Holder for discussions about the school-to-prison pipeline that is prevalent in so many of our communities. It is becoming one of the major civil rights issues of our time and one that we are focusing on in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

In this issue you will read about DDCE’s partnership with the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Law that is helping to break the school-to-prison cycle. At its most basic level, the school- to-prison cycle removes students from classrooms or public schools and sets them on a path leading into the criminal justice system. The Youth Court program is part of our Educational Equity Project with the Justice Center and is a model for turning around students at risk of being suspended and keeping them in the classroom.

And as we all know, excellent teachers can also make a difference in the success of underserved students. Mary Ledbetter, also profiled in this newsletter, is one of our outstanding UT Elementary School teachers who makes a difference to students well beyond the walls of UT Elementary. We are proud to have Mary as part of the DDCE team.

As we look forward to Thanksgiving, we would like to thank the many UT students who have served our nation. Best wishes for a peaceful Thanksgiving enjoyed with family and friends.

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


William Wayne Justice Center and DDCE Partner on Educational Equity Project

Dr. Gregory Vincent; Tina Fernandez, former director of the law school’s Pro Bono Program; and Meg Clifford, ’12, Educational Equity FellowIn 2012, the Law School’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law partnered with the UT Austin Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) to fund a two-year School-to-Prison Pipeline project. The Justice Center and DDCE have now committed to expanding that partnership. The new Educational Equity Project (EEP) will address the significant issue of educational inequity for low-income and minority students across Austin.

According to Meg Clifford (pictured left behind Dr. Vincent and Tina Fernandez), who launched the project as a Law School fellow, the major achievements of the project’s first two years include institutionalizing the Law School’s Youth Court at Webb Middle School; developing expertise and resources to assist students in school disciplinary, misdemeanor ticketing, and truancy hearings; and developing the UT Law Pro Bono Program’s Expunction Project, a clinic model that engages volunteer law students and lawyers to help individuals expunge their criminal records, mitigating future harms stemming from low-level offenses. In addition, the Justice Center and DDCE will soon publish a manual for the Youth Court program and make it available to law schools and universities around the country.

DDCE will soon publish a manual for the Youth Court program and make it available to law schools and universities around the country. Read more.

Completing the Mission: Student Veterans Share Stories of Life after Iraq

Cameron McCoyEvery year on November 11, our nation celebrates the sacrifice and heroism of all those who served in the military. In honor of our service men and women, we met with several student veterans to share their stories about life after war and the future that lies ahead.

Each of their stories are uniquely their own, yet there is one common thread: the challenge of transitioning from combat to college. Many of these students chose UT Austin based on its reputation as one of the most veteran-friendly universities in the nation. With the many supportive resources available in the Office of the Dean of Students’  Student Veteran Service,  the Forty Acres is often a first choice for returning veterans.

Read on to learn more about our student veterans, like that of Cameron McCoy (pictured right)—and the many life lessons they’ve learned  both in the classroom and the military.

Humanities Texas Honors UT Elementary School Teacher Mary Ledbetter

Humanities Texas  honored UT Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Mary Ledbetter today as the James F. Veninga Outstanding Humanities Teachers. The Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Awards recognizes exemplary K–12 humanities teachers. Each year, eleven teachers are selected to receive a $5,000 cash award and an additional $500 for their respective schools to purchase humanities-based instructional materials. Read more.

UT Elementary School teacher Mary Ledbetter accepts the Outstanding Humanities Teacher Award
UT Elementary School teacher Mary Ledbetter accepts the Outstanding Humanities Teacher Award from Dr. Michael Gillette, director of Humanities Texas, Mickey Klein, chair of the Humanities Texas Board of Directors, U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Dr. Melissa Chavez, superintendent of the University of Texas Charter School System.

Dr. Gregory J. Vincent and Sigma Pi Phi Executive Committee Meet with White House Cabinet Members

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Dr. Gregory J. Vincent
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Dr. Gregory J. Vincent

Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, along with fellow Executive Committee members of Sigma Pi Phi (known as the Boulé), met with cabinet members from the Obama administration at the White House on Wed., Oct. 22, 2014, to discuss initiatives and opportunities for young men of color, juvenile justice reform and the affordable health care act.  Vincent is the chair of the Sigma Pi Phi Grand Social Action Committee. The fraternity, which has more than 5,000 members including African American leaders from across the nation, currently has a partnership with The University of Texas at Austin to establish exceptional mentoring programs for young men of color. Read more.

DDCE Recognized by Hispanic Scholarship Consortium

On behalf of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Associate Vice President Erica Saenz accepted the Latinidad Award from the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium. The award was given to DDCE, David Garza and John Hogg, Con Mi Madre and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for their efforts in supporting Hispanic identity.

Erica Saenz
with David Garza, John Hogg, Teresa Granillo and Mark Madrid
Erica Saenz (DDCE), David Garza, John Hogg, Teresa Granillo (Con Mi Madre) and Mark Madrid (Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) accepted Latindad Awards at the recent Hispanic Scholarship Consortium 10th anniversary celebration.

Football playerAugust As We Saw It Stories Uncover the Power of Athletics to Tackle Change

Check out new stories on As We Saw It. This month we retrace some of UT’s most dynamic stories as we wrap the fall sports season. The context of sports will once again serve as an incubator for larger conversations of race, integration, social equity and political progress.

As the Longhorn football team led by Coach Charlie Strong ushers in a new era this season, we invite you to review the history of those who got us here.

Editor: Leslie Blair, Jessica Sinn. Web: Jason Molin

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