Message from Dr. Vincent
On May 19th we marked the conclusion of the 30th annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights with our Evening of Honors celebration. This year we honored the Precursors, the fearless African-American students who came to UT between 1950 and the 1970s and were the first to desegregate the university. Without them, I would not be in the position I am today and for that I am forever thankful for their courage.
Barred from nearly all cafeterias and dormitories and forbidden from participating on athletic teams or in student organizations, the Precursors fought to make UT their own. They protested treatment in the residence halls and boycotted segregated food counters and theaters, all the while risking arrest and expulsion for their actions of civil disobedience.
I have always believed that there is no truer way to prove one’s self-worth than to graduate from college and it was the Precursors who fully embodied this mantra. Their sacrifice transformed UT into the place it is today – where a free exchange of ideas requires mutual respect and consideration of our differences.
To further honor the Precursors, we are also working on a book, As We Saw It, set for publication in 2017, which will chronicle the history of the Precursors through a series of narrative stories written by and about the Precursors themselves.
2015-16 has been another exceptional year for The Division of Diversity Engagement, our community partners, and The University of Texas at Austin. Thank you for your continued support!
Evening of Honors Recognizes The Precursors
On Thursday, May 19, the DDCE hosted the 2016 Heman Marion Sweatt Evening of Honors. As 2016 marks the 60th anniversary of the very first class of African-American undergraduate students that enrolled at UT, the Precursors, the African-American students who were the first to attend and integrate UT, were honored with this year’s Legacy Award. The evening also featured remarks from President Gregory L. Fenves and Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement as well as a panel discussion with the Precursors. Performances were given by UT alumna Joanna Coatney Daniels who sang the Black National Anthem, “Life Every Voice and Sing” and by graduating senior LaShawn Washington who performed an original piece of poetry.
This year’s Student Legacy Awards went to graduating seniors David McDonald and Christle Nwora. David will be joining the 2016 Teach For America Corps in Dallas and Christle will attend McGovern Medical School in Houston this fall. The night ended with conversation and dancing, with local R&B ensemble, Soul Tree Collective, providing the soundtrack. Thank you to all that made the evening possible.
We are pleased to announce that the spring issue of Access & Excellence, the magazine of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, will be available this week.
This second installment covers an array of programs and initiatives that are making a positive impact on communities in Austin and across the nation.
Stop by the fourth floor of the FAC later this week to pick up a copy. Stories and videos are also available online: http://diversity.utexas.edu/magazine/.
DDCE Honors Rosal, Miller with Community Leadership Awards
The 9th Annual Lavender Graduation ceremony was followed by a reception hosted by the Texas Exes LGBT Network and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. Fifty-seven grads and their friends and families were joined by LGBT Network alumni and Pride and Equity Faculty Staff Association members at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center for drinks and appetizers.For the third year, DDCE presented its Community Leadership Awards.
This year’s honorees are Ixchel Rosal and Dr. Ryan A. Miller. Both were instrumental in establishing a welcoming community or LGBTQ students, faculty and staff. Rosal served as director for the Gender and Sexuality Center since its inception 12 years ago and has served as executive director for Student Diversity Initiatives the past two years. She has been a lead team member for the Campus Climate Response Team (CCRT), too. She recently stepped down to take a position as associate vice president for student life at Columbia University.
Miller, has worked in the DDCE in several capacities, most recently as director of inclusion and equity, leading the development and administration of the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action program for the university. He has ably led the CCRT the past few years and was instrumental in the establishment of the Texas Exes LGBT Network. Miller will be leaving UT Austin for a tenure-track faculty position at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
In his remarks at the reception, Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, noted that Rosal and Miller represented “the best the university has to offer.”
We wish Ixchel and Ryan the best of luck as they transition to their new positions and look forward to hearing about the great things they achieve at Columbia and UNC.
Eric Tang Named One of Alcalde’s Top Ten Professors
DDCE Faculty Fellow and African and African Diaspora Studies Associate Professor Eric Tang has been in the news a lot lately. Tang was named one of the Alcalde magazine’s Top Ten Professors this year.
His research regarding African Americans who left East Austin because of concerns related to rising housing costs and declining school quality, was featured recently on the front page of the Austin American Statesman and in the Austin Chronicle.
His book Unsettled: Cambodian Refugees in the New York City Hyperghetto was published by Temple University Press in September. Congratulations to Dr. Tang on his many accomplishments!
We Love Our UTES Volunteers!
The University of Texas Elementary School (UTES) honored its volunteers and mentors at a special lunch on May 17, complete with the entertainment from UTES Strings program and Ms. Garcia and Ms. Tanco’s Pre-K classes. UTES students love spending time with volunteers and mentors, who provide extra help and advice on a regular basis. Thanks for all you do!
Editors: Leslie Blair, Kevin Almasy. Web: Jason Molin