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Dr. Gregory VincentMessage from Dr. Vincent

I am pleased to announce The University of Texas at Austin has received the 2015 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHTS in Diversity magazine. This is the fourth year we have been so honored. And, as we kick off the new academic year, I fully expect our division’s impact on the university to continue. Under the leadership of new University of Texas President Greg Fenves, the university’s mission to diversity and community engagement will become even stronger.

During his inauguration and State of the University address, President Fenves said, “We must continue to make strategic investments in recruiting, developing and retaining outstanding, diverse faculty. On this point, let me be clear that I am fully committed to excellence and diversity as being mutually reinforcing, and we will look to new processes to advance both.”

He also recognizes the role the university plays in the state. “I see a future where the people of Texas are more connected to this university. . . .You don’t have to attend UT to believe in the power of UT. All Texans benefit from The University of Texas. Some may question the cost of higher education, but no one should question its benefits,” he said.

I look forward to working with President Fenves to make these and other priorities a reality and invite you to join us.

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


Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, Mark Madrid to Co-Chair MBK Austin Task Force

Gregory VincentAustin Mayor Steve Adler has announced the formation of a task force for the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Austin initiative. The task force will be co-chaired by Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, and Mark Madrid, CEO for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. On hand for the announcement held Aug. 17 at Austin Community College were Dr. Richard Rhodes, Austin Community College president; Travis County judge Sara Eckhardt; Dr. Paul Cruz, AISD superintendent and about 50 others from nonprofit organizations, AISD, ACC, UT Austin; Huston-Tillotson University, the City of Austin and Travis County offices as well as community members.

MBK Austin was launched at SXSWedu last spring. Since then, numerous school districts, organizations and agencies have signed on to become part of the initiative which will focus on educational opportunities and ending the school-to-prison pipeline for young men of color in Austin and Travis County. All of those who spoke that morning talked about the great opportunity to help youth and young  men of color succeed on all levels. “I believe that the stars are aligning for a conversation about opportunity that we haven’t seen in a long time and its long overdue,” said Eckerhardt.

My Brother's Keeper Task Force
Dr. Paul Cruz, Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Mayor Steve Adler, Mr. Mark Madrid, Dr. Richard Rhodes, and Dr. Kelly Crook

Erica SaenzVincent said, “What’s so exciting about MBK Austin as Mayor Adler said, we can take challenges – and we do have challenges in our communities–and turn those into strengths and opportunities. With our collective efforts, we have the opportunity to make sure all of our young people thrive.” Vincent also said the task force would be held accountable and is planning another SXSWedu event to report back on progress. “We can say that as a community, we did  not just talk about this effort but actually executed initiatives and best practices to make sure that we’re making a tangible, positive impact on the lives of our young people,” he said.

Madrid called the announcement “a signature moment for Austin and Travis County.”  He said, “We put aside self-interest for shared interest… Our youth and our young men of color represent the minds of tomorrow and we must take the responsibility to provide them a compass , a guide post and an enduring example.”  As the cultivation of our youth and our young men of color go, that is how our Austin, Travis county state of Texas and American economy will go.

UT Austin Honored with 2015 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award

logo for HEED awardThe University of Texas at Austin has received the 2015 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award (HEED) from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine.  It is the fourth year that UT Austin has received the award, which is based on a comprehensive application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees, continued leadership support for diversity, course offerings, support services and numerous other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion.

“We take a holistic approach to reviewing each application,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of the magazine. “Our standards are high and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across a campus. The University of Texas at Austin has once again proven to be one of the leaders in best practices, especially in efforts to improve retention and graduation rates for historically underrepresented populations.”

Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, said, “We are honored to receive the HEED award again this year. It has become a benchmark for excellence in diversity among colleges and universities across the country. Earning this recognition once again reflects the strength of UT Austin’s dedication to fostering an inclusive environment where a diversity of cultures, perspectives and scholarship are not only accepted but embraced.”

Vincent noted the division now has partnerships with all 18 colleges and schools on campus.

As a recipient of the annual HEED award, UT Austin will be featured in the November 2015 issue of INSIGHT into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

Davis, Wilson Statues Removed from Main Mall

Statues removed

On Sunday, Aug. 30, workers transported the statues of Jefferson Davis and Woodrow Wilson to a UT facilities complex where they will be refurbished and stored until the Davis statue can be displayed at the Briscoe Center (within 18 months) and the Wilson statue can be relocated elsewhere on campus.

The five-hour operation, seen by about 100 onlookers, drew heavy local, state and national media attention, with outlets from the Texan to the New York Times covering it. Here are several news stories covering the statues removal.

Dr. Vincent Receives AKA Community Leadership Award

Dr. Vincent with the award The Beta Psi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha and the Austin AKA Association for Community Development recently awarded Dr. Gregory J. Vincent the Launching New Dimensions of Community Leadership Award for Global Impact.

These leadership awards were given to individuals whose leadership and service has had a major impact in the categories of Education, Health, Family Strengthening, Environment, and Globally.

Honorees were announced at the Project Pink Runway Fashion Show and Luncheon on September 13 at the Renaissance Hotel in Austin.

Off to a Good Start: Summer Bridge Program Helps Students Transition to College Life

For most incoming college freshman, the word “intimidated” hardly covers how they feel on that first day of the fall semester. Not only do they have to contend with a massive college campus, they must also keep up with a whole new league of competitive classmates and rigorous courses.

Summer Bridge student, however, is likely to have an entirely different experience. With six hours of college classes under their belt—and a built-in network of friends and mentors—they’re more than ready to start that first day of school with confidence and poise.

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This level of preparation is especially needed for high-achieving students from low-income or first-generation college backgrounds. These students are often unprepared for college and falter at the first signs of perceived failure, says Dr. Charles Lu, Summer Bridge director and executive director of the Gateway Scholars program.

“A lot of our incoming students think that they will thrive because they were ranked highly in high school,” Lu says. “Unfortunately a lot of times that doesn’t happen. We want to give them a taste of what college curriculum is going to look like, and the level of rigor the university expects them to be at.” Read more.

Dr. Susan Elza Named UIL Director of Athletics

Dr. Elza Dr. Susan Elza has been hired as the University Interscholastic League (UIL) director of athletics.  Elza, who was previously executive director of athletics at Northwest Independent School District, will begin in August and will oversee the UIL athletic department and administer athletic activities for UIL member schools.

Elza fills the position recently vacated by Dr. Mark Cousins, who moved into a new role as UIL director of compliance, eligibility and education on July 1.

“It is a tremendous honor to be hired as the director of athletics of the University Interscholastic League,” Elza said. “I am grateful for the vote of confidence to lead an athletic program that is known as one of the best in the nation. I am dedicated to contributing to help shape the future of this organization so that we can better serve the schools and athletes of the state of Texas.”

Prior to her role at Northwest ISD, Elza served as assistant athletic director of Allen Independent School District. She was also a head softball coach in Garland and Allen. Elza holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science from Southwest Texas State, a master’s of education administration from Texas A&M Commerce and a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Lamar University. Elza is a graduate of Waco Midway High School, where she participated in basketball, track and softball.

“Dr. Susan Elza has been dedicated to UIL athletics for many years, and brings to the League extensive knowledge and a commitment to continued excellence,” said Dr. Charles Breithaupt, UIL executive director. “Her experience and leadership will be an invaluable asset to the UIL and extracurricular athletics in Texas.”

UT Libraries Chief Development Officer Gregory Perrin Joins DDCE

Greg PerrinGregory Perrin has joined the DDCE staff as associate vice president and executive director of development, bringing more than 24 years of combined experience in fundraising management and higher education.  

Effective August 4, Perrin will assume his new responsibilities at the DDCE, which will include fostering relationships and securing philanthropic support for the divisions. He will be taking over for Dr. Robiaun Charles, who has accepted a position as vice president for college advancement at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Perrin comes from the University of Texas Libraries, where he served as a chief development officer. Among his many accomplishments, he presided over a steady expansion of the UT Libraries’ donor base, increased the number of endowments, founded the Staff Advisory Council for Library Advancement and established the UT Libraries’ annual Distinguished Author Dinner.  

He also served as assistant director of development in the College of Liberal Arts at UT Austin and as a development consultant for Greenlights for Nonprofit Success. After earning his MFA from the University of Houston in 1995, he embarked on his development career at the Houston Grand Opera, and later took on leadership roles at AIDS Foundation Houston and Austin Lyric Opera. 

In addition to his fundraising career, Perrin is highly involved in his community. He serves on the CASE District IV board and the advisory council for the Armstrong Community Music School. Previously he held leadership positions on the boards and committees for Creative Action, A Legacy of Giving, Association for Fundraising Professionals, University of Houston Alumni Association and Leadership Houston. 

A dedicated community leader and accomplished development officer, Perrin will be a valuable asset to the DDCE.  

“We’re very pleased to have Greg join the team,” says Dr. Gregory Vincent, vice president of diversity and community engagement. “His wealth of experience in development and fundraising will contribute greatly to the strategic fundraising efforts for DDCE programs, including phase II of the UT Elementary School capital campaign.”

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

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