As the country engages in important conversations on civil rights and renegotiates institutional and political practices of equality, fairness and access, The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is proud to be a part of the dialogue, and in some ways, leading the conversation. The university’s commitment to its holistic admissions process in the Fisher v. University of Texas lawsuit is an example of how UT Austin has helped drive the conversation. In 2016 the university celebrated two milestones, including, the 60th anniversary of the entering class of Black students. Though we are focused on the future of equality, access, and social justice, we cannot forget the past as it plays a vital role informing our future.
The story of integration at The University of Texas at Austin is complex and momentous, and a story that necessitates sharing, understanding and recognizing. With the help of long-time Austin resident and writer Louise Iscoe, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement is proud to share As We Saw It, a series of narratives that helped create and continues to shape the conversation of inclusion, equality and access in higher education in the state of Texas.
On March 18, 2018, the culmination of this ongoing project will be published as a book. This book includes stories written by and about the Black students who demonstrated courage and convictions that helped shape UT Austin into the institution it is today. These alumni should be remembered and honored as we continue to strive for a richly diverse and inclusive campus.
We hope to continue this work in documenting the diverse university community that has made UT a university committed to diversity, inclusion and equity.
Leslie Asher Blair
Leslie Blair is executive director of communications for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked in the Division since 2008, helping to establish the brand and communication strategies for the division. Previously Blair worked as a communications associate and project director at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory and as a newspaper reporter in Las Cruces, NM. She began her career at the Texas State Historical Association and Center for Studies in Texas History at UT Austin soon after graduating from college. Blair holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Texas State University and a master’s degree in English from New Mexico State University. She has edited five books on leadership and change in schools and has received several awards from the Association of Educational Publishers.
Virginia A. Cumberbatch
Virginia Cumberbatch serves as director of the Community Engagement Center (CEC), a part of The University of Texas at Austin (UT) Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE). Cumberbatch has used her years of academic and professional experience to facilitate conversations about diversity, inclusion and equity throughout the Austin area. In her current capacity, Virginia ensures that the center continues to develop new and sustain mutually beneficial partnerships between the University of Texas and diverse communities, improving systems to be more accessible and equitable for historically underserved communities. She received her bachelor’s degree in history at Williams College and her master’s degree in Public Affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at UT. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Austin Anti-Defamation League’s Social Justice Award.
Gregory J. Vincent
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent is currently the 16th president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. He previously served as The University of Texas at Austin vice president for diversity and community engagement from 2006-17. Vincent came to UT Austin in 2005 as vice provost for inclusion and cross-cultural effectiveness. While at UT Austin, he held the W.K. Kellogg Professorship for Community College Leadership and was a professor of law. He earned his law degree from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.
Under Vincent’s tenure, the UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement grew to encompass more than 50 units and projects, including the exemplary rated UT Elementary School, the university’s Office for Inclusion and Equity, a new Community Engagement Center, the University Interscholastic League, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, and a number of successful initiatives that work to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from underrepresented populations in the higher education.