Message from Dr. Vincent
May was a month of celebrations as we said 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.
On June 3, Dr. Gregory L. Fenves took office as the 29th president of UT Austin. I was honored to accompany him that day to David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church where he met with East Austin leaders including Pastor Joseph C. Parker, Ada Anderson, Wilhelmina and Exalton Delco and Teddy McDaniels. We are excited to have Dr. Fenves as the new president and look forward to working with him to innovate excellence as he builds on the success of the university’s core missions.
We are sad to report of the passing of three men who all played roles in the integration of the university--Dr. Ray Wilson, Norcell Haywood and Dr. Ira Iscoe. They truly will be missed. We have received numerous emails this week with memories of the three, reminding us of the different ways they mentored other UT students and changed the world.
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
The DDCE hosted its annual Evening of Honors on May 15, 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 marked an important milestone as President Powers prepared to step down from his position. 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. Photos in front of UT banner by Shelton Lewis.
Community Leadership Awards at the Asian American Resource Center Close Out the Semester
About 100 community members joined us for the Community Leadership Awards at the Asian American Resource Center on May 26, including Mayor Steve Adler. This year’s awards also included the RAISE Awards presented by the Asian and Asian American Faculty/Staff Association. President Powers was honored with a gift from the Austin Asian American Community—a beautiful photograph taken by 2011 Community Leadership Circle honoree Ali Khataw, president of Encotech Engineering.
The 2015 honorees were as follows:
Please visit the entire set of photos on Fllckr to see photos from the event.
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
In Memoriam: Ray Wilson, Norcell Haywood and Ira Iscoe
It is with great sadness we report the deaths of two of The University of Texas at Austin’s outstanding Precursors–Dr. Ray Wilson and Mr. Norcell Haywood–as well as the death of Professor Emeritus Ira Iscoe. All three men played important roles in the integration of the university.
Dr. Ray Floyd Wilson
Dr. Ray Floyd Wilson, 89, passed away Wednesday, June 10. Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree from Samuel Huston College before attending graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin. In 1953, he became the first African American to earn a doctorate from the university. He went on to earn a Juris Doctor at Texas Southern University in Houston, where he was a professor of chemistry.
Wilson was honored to have received numerous awards throughout his lifetime including a commendation from the State of Texas for having served as a real estate agent for 50 years and a historical designation for his farm, which had been in his family for 100 years.
The Precursors honored Wilson in 2012. Among those present were three of the five African Americans who Dr. Wilson influenced—Drs. Lawrence Baye, James Teal, and Charles Urdy—to also pursue a PhD in chemistry in 1957. That year, all five men enrolled as students. Dr. Wilson taught four of them including Curtis McDonald and Chavus Womack as undergraduates at Texas Southern University, and he met Dr. Urdy years earlier at Huston-Tillotson College, where he often visited on study breaks from UT Austin. The five, who all received their doctorates, are known as “The Fabulous Five.”
Upon being presented with the 2012 Honor Award, Dr. Wilson gave an emotional acceptance speech, and credited his mother and teachers for pushing him.
“It was not all me,” he said. “I wanted to be an electrician. They said no.”
Wilson is survived by his wife, Faye Doris Gray Wilson; his sons, Ray F., Jr., Freddie O., and Roy A. Wilson and their families; and daughter, Mercedes L. Everett and family. – Read the full obituary for Dr. Wilson online.
Mr. Norcell Haywood
Norcell Haywood was one of the first African Americans to be accepted as an undergraduate at The University of Texas at Austin in June 1954 along with Robert Norwood, John Hargis and Marion Ford. Except they were forced by UT registrar H. Y. McCown to take prerequisites at Prairie View A&M or Texas Southern University. They returned to UT Austin in 1956. Haywood took a full load of courses, worked at the Driskill Hotel and was also part of the ROTC program. “This was in the 50s, and we didn’t have any civil rights laws,” he said. “Being on this campus was the closest thing to equality that we as blacks had.” In 1960, Haywood became the second African American to receive a degree in Architecture. “I would say that we made it because we couldn’t turn back,” Haywood said. “There was nothing to go back to.”
When John Hargis died in 1986, Haywood said his friend asked him not to give up on UT. “He said this is our university and we’re not going to let anyone take that away.”
Right after college, Haywood became a professor of engineering at Prairie View A&M. He then worked for the City of Austin Planning Department for a time. He moved to San Antonio in 1963 to work with architect O’Neill Ford designing the Tower of Americas at Hemisfair, the 1968 World’s Fair.
In an interview in 2010, Haywood said, “I am not a civil rights person; I am an architect who is civil-minded.” Haywood acknowledged that architecture was a bourgeois industry, a luxury and generally not available to the lower class. He wanted to use his profession for social change, however. He formed the group Minority Architecture to encourage and mentor young Black architects. He used recycled materials, natural lighting and ventilation and rainwater collection systems long before “green” building became a trend. When he was interviewed in 2010, he could no longer draw designs, but remained active in the firm Haywood Jordan McCowan SAT.Haywood passed away on June 15, 2015, in San Antonio, Texas. Services will be held June 20. For more information about Mr. Haywood’s services and to read his obituary, please visit the Lewis Funeral Home website.
Dr. Ira Iscoe
Professor Emeritus Dr. Ira Iscoe passed on Friday, June 12, in Washington, D.C. He was 94. Dr. Iscoe was a presence on campus from 1951 until 2014 when he and his wife Louise moved from Austin to the D.C. area to be near two of their grown children. He was named Ashbel Smith Professor of Psychology Emeritus in 1992, and later was named director of UT’s Plan II honors program and head of the Institute of Human Development and Family Studies. He was instrumental in developing the Clinical Training Psychology Program and obtaining its accreditation.
Iscoe was president of the Texas Psychological Association, the Southwest Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association’s Division of Community Psychology. He worked to improve services at the Texas State Mental Hospital and State School. Both Ira and Louise Iscoe were active in the early civil rights movement on campus, and were very supportive of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.
Read the obituary for Dr. Iscoe online.
Editors: Leslie Blair, Jessica Sinn. Web: Jason Molin