Message from Dr. Vincent
May has been a month of celebrations as we say goodbye to President Powers and to many graduating seniors who have been affiliated with DDCE programs. As the father of a UT senior, this year’s graduation held special meaning. Though the evening graduation ceremony was cancelled due to bad weather on Saturday, May 23, our resourceful grads took to social media to plan an impromptu event the next night. And as always, the DDCE is proud to have helped sponsor special graduation events for Latino, Black and LGBTQ students.
This year’s fifth-grade ‘graduation’ at UT Elementary School was special as well—the first class of UT Elementary School students are graduating from high school. We had the opportunity meet 20 of those students and find out what their aspirations are and how UT Elementary helped shaped their lives thus far. The good news is that they carried forward not only lessons learned at the elementary school, but also the special bonds with their teachers. A number of the students mentioned that because they had learned valuable social skills and established good relationships with their UT Elementary teachers, they were able to develop good relationships with teachers in middle school and high school.
Dr. Leonard Moore, DDCE senior associate vice president and history professor, was also celebrated this month. The Texas Exes named him one of the top ten professors at UT Austin. He also received the Jean Holloway Excellence in Teaching Award, a student-nominated honor.
Finally, one of the DDCE highlights each May is Evening of Honors. This year we honored President Bill Powers with the Heman Sweatt Legacy Award. As President Powers prepares to step down as president, he is being honored and celebrated across campus for his leadership the past nine years. His efforts to create a diverse and welcoming campus climate as well as his vision of embracing the community leave an indelible mark on this institution.
President Fenves Meets with Community Leaders in East Austin
On his first day as UT president, Dr. Gregory Fenves met with community leaders at David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in East Austin to discuss how to build on the momentum of partnerships between the university and the community.
Joseph Parker Jr., a Texas Law alumnus and pastor of David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, moderated a panel discussion with President Fenves and Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement. The conversation focused on continuing goals for the university, specifically student success, academic diversity and community engagement.
Recap: Evening of Honors 2015 in Photos
Last Friday the DDCE hosted its annual Evening of Honors, celebrating the remarkable achievements made by UT Austin President William C. Powers and School of Social Work senior Chelsea Jones. Both honorees embody the life and legacy of Heman Marion Sweatt, the first African American admitted into the UT Law School.
This year’s Evening of Honors marks an important milestone as President Powers prepares to step down from his position this June. Dressed in black ties and floor-length gowns, a large gathering of friends, alumni, faculty, staff and students came together to wish him farewell and celebrate his many contributions to the university and the community.
Here are a few highlights from the event. All photos can be found on our Flickr site.
Chelsea Jones (below, left) graciously accepted her Student Legacy award, sharing her own story about why coming to UT Austin was one of the best decisions she ever made.
Despite her high school calculous teacher’s warnings of becoming "just a number" at a large university, she shared how she surpassed her own expectations with some help from the many student success programs within the Longhorn Center of Academic Excellence, and professors like Dr. Leonard Moore, associate vice president of academic diversity initiatives, who motivated her to work hard and reach her true potential.
Christopher-Michael (above, center) stunned the audience—bringing them to their feet in applause—after delivering a poetry slam performance commemorating President Powers’ significant impact on the university and the Austin community.
Col. Leon Holland (above, right), a member of the Precursors, gave the audience a glimpse into what campus life was like back when UT Austin first opened its doors to African American students, illuminating how far the Forty Acres has come since its early days of integration.
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president of diversity and community engagement, gave a heartfelt salute to his longtime friend and colleague, President Powers.
Several alumni and friends gave tributes to President Powers, applauding him for his efforts in making UT Austin a more diverse, inclusive campus. When he accepted his legacy award, he reflected on the university’s past civil rights challenges and thanked the DDCE for helping him champion diversity initiatives across campus and out in the community.
The celebration concluded with good food, dancing and music provided by DJ Miles.
Want to see more photos from the night’s festivities? Here is the Evening of Honors photo set. Photography by Brian Birzer. UT banner photos by Shelton Lewis.
Photos from the Asian American Community Leadership Awards
Alcalde Profiles Leonard Moore as One of Its Annual Top Ten Professors
Leonard Moore: Professor, History; Senior associate vice president, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement
Notable honor: 2015 Jean Holloway Award for excellence in teaching
Years at UT: 8
Dream student: “A kid with a 2.1 [GPA], a sophomore, just floating by at UT and thinking about dropping out. That student coming into my class, getting motivated, and taking off is my dream student.”
Leonard Moore serves two roles at UT. As a professor of history, he teaches large classes like Race in the Age of Obama and History of the Black Power Era. When he’s not weaving the topics of race, sports, and hip-hop into a lecture, he’s at his other job as senior associate vice president at the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, he gets to interact with even more students, something he thrives on.
"If I had my choice, we wouldn’t have walls anywhere up here," Moore says about the fourth floor of the Student Services Building, which houses part of the DDCE. "It would be all open."
Openness is Moore’s philosophy on teaching. Moore teaches 1,100 students in his two fall classes—1,100 mentors, he calls them—and Moore uses his students as sounding boards both for the class and for the DDCE.
"If I’m launching an initiative up here, guess who I’ll ask? I’ll go ask the 19-year-olds," Moore says. "The feedback they give me makes me a better administrator."
The biggest misconception about his class is that "it’s all about black stuff," Moore says. "What I tell white students is that you will learn more about yourself in my black power class than you will on any other class on campus," Moore says. "All the white Greeks take the course now."
While Moore absolutely values the research side of academia, his first love is educating in the classroom. For that reason, he says he believes in bringing his "a-game" in every single lecture.
"I got in this first and foremost to motivate undergrads to do something dynamic with their lives," Moore says. "Students have paid a lot of money to be here. They should never be bored."–Chris O’Connell
Celebrating the Class of 2015: Asia Howard
After graduation, Asia Howard plans to earn a duel master’s degree from the School of Social Work and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. With a passion for social rights, she aims to make a big impact in the lives of people like herself who grew up without the privilege of a traditional family environment. Read on to learn more about her personal reasons for wanting to help children in the foster care system, and the important life lessons she learned during her undergraduate experience here at the Forty Acres.
Lessons learned abroad… "My most memorable moment would be my study abroad trip to London, England where I studied the roots of social and economic justice. England, the birth place of social work, taught me so much about the field and I am humble to have the opportunity to apply what I learned in London to social welfare policy in the United States."
A passion for helping people… "I don’t believe I chose social work; social work chose me. As a young child I lost my parents to drugs and was placed in foster care, along with my four siblings. Our experience with CPS was not what I believe a child should ever have to experience. With social work, I plan to dedicate my efforts to achieving equity for women of color, greater access to higher education for underserved children, and child welfare policy reform for siblings in foster care."
A change in plans… "My original plan was to work in pharmaceuticals and open a pharmacy dedicated to providing medication to the individuals who could not afford it."
A wise decision… "I initially never wanted to attend UT. I thought the university would be too large and that I would be only a number. However, thanks to the Longhorn Scholars Program, UT became the only school that I applied to. I am so proud that I chose this great institution. I have learned so much from this experience and have met so many great individuals who I have the pleasure to call my friends!"
Celebrating the Class of 2015: Claire Labry
After graduating with honors from the College of Liberal Arts with a degree in International Relations and Global Studies, Claire Labry plans to work in a summer internship in Finland and Turkey. While overseas, she will be working with the World Federation for the Deaf on sign language access for deaf people in developing countries.
The power of advocacy… Labry is profoundly deaf and is able to hear some with the help of cochlear implants. From her own personal experiences, she knows that it can be difficult finding a safe, supportive place where people can talk openly about their disabilities. When she came to UT Austin, she decided to take on a leadership role in student government and advocate for groups that face discrimination and oppression.
Providing a safe place… As the Director of Advocacy and Policy with UT Student Government, she oversees agencies that serve various diverse communities across campus. These groups facilitate town hall meetings to provide a platform for people from all walks of life to speak their minds and advocate change. "I like to sit down and listen to people express their feelings and make them feel validated and supported. I like to hear about what they’re going through and help the best I can."
Bitten by the travel bug… Labry is no stranger to international travel. She learned how to speak and sign French while studying abroad in Paris. She also traveled across the pond with her parents when she was a child. "The travel bug has always been inside me. I love learning about new cultures and opening my mind to different perspectives. I want to be aware of what’s going on in the world."
A big question mark… After her summer internship, Labry can see herself working abroad, perhaps in the public policy sector. She also considers a career in nursing, a profession she initially planned on pursuing before she transferred from Angelo State University to UT Austin during her junior year. Although the future seems a little fuzzy at the moment, she’s certain that whatever path she chooses will involve helping others.
Bragging rights… Among her many honors, Labry was awarded the Outstanding Philanthropic Youth Scholarship for demonstrating outstanding civic and charitable responsibility, and for encouraging others to take philanthropic leadership roles on a community, national and global level. She also co-founded Run to Hear, Inc., a 5K race to raise funds for deaf children needing hearing aids, cochlear implants or related resources and services. The race will be held on May 23 in Pflugerville.
Celebrating the Class of 2015: Ignacio Cruz
Ignacio Cruz is a senior majoring in Corporate Communication Studies. During his time at the university, he raised $5,000 for women and families affected by HIV/AIDs in Ghana. Among his many contributions to the campus community, he founded and directs the Undergraduate Research Association and serves as president of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Citizen Scholars program.
An unexpected twist…"When I was a freshman, I was a journalism major, but after a few classes, I realized that field was not for me. I connected with a past instructor who suggested that I take a class in organizational communication as a way to explore the communication discipline. By pure luck, I took a class in that subject and fell in love with it."
The perks of the IE program… "During my undergraduate career, I’ve had the chance to explore and reap the benefits of so many opportunities. From studying abroad three times (Beijing, China, Accra, Ghana and my upcoming trip to Cape Town, South Africa), to conducting cutting-edge research in organizational communication, I have had a plethora of experiences to help shape my future goals."
Prepped and ready for grad school…"I would be lying if I said I’m not anxious. Of course, it is a new experience, but it’s not something that I am not prepared for. Through my time as a researcher on campus, as well as my preparation during my undergraduate career, there is a reason why I will have a seat at the table in graduate school. I’m ready to see what the future has in store."
Plans for the future… "In August, I will be attending the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, where I will pursue a Ph.D. in Organizational Communication and Technology."
Most memorable college experience…"My favorite memory at UT Austin was during my study abroad program in Accra, Ghana. My service project in Ghana was to help implement a marketing and organizational development project with a community partner. It was an intersection of what I was learning in the classroom through theory and practice and actually implementing it in the real world. It was fascinating to see my coursework put into action."
Editors: Leslie Blair, Jessica Sinn. Web: Jason Molin