Click here to view this article on the Statesman – April 21, 2017
After more than a decade of fostering diversity and inclusion on and off the Forty Acres, Gregory J. Vincent will make this semester his last at the University of Texas before becoming president of his alma mater, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York.
UT officials said they haven’t started the search to replace Vincent as vice president for diversity and community engagement, but they will begin soon because his last day will be July 16. For now, the university is focusing on celebrating Vincent’s time at UT, officials said.
The announcement Thursday that Vincent is leaving came as a surprise to much of the UT community.
“Though it is very difficult to see an accomplished leader depart our university, I know that Dr. Vincent will flourish in his new role and continue to transform the lives of students— just as he has done for so many years at UT,” UT President Gregory L. Fenves wrote in a message to the UT community.
Vincent was the first person to serve as vice president for diversity and community engagement at UT, where he has worked to improve inclusion in the community over the past 11 years.
In one of the most controversial moments of his tenure, he and Fenves led the removal of the statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis from where it stood for 82 years on the Main Mall.
Vincent also played a key role in the Fisher v. UT Supreme Court case, which Fenves said was one of the most powerful memories he has of working with Vincent.
“When the court later ruled in our favor, it was a victory for UT, and a victory for students across the nation,” Fenves wrote. “Dr. Gregory Vincent helped make it possible.”
“As you can imagine, the decision to leave UT was a difficult one,” Vincent said in his own statement. “The University of Texas at Austin has always been an exciting, fulfilling place to be. I love UT Austin and the only place for which I could leave this university is my alma mater.”
As vice president, Vincent oversaw the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and helped write the division’s first strategic plan, as well as the university diversity and inclusion action plan, which outlined eight key focus areas: university leadership, campus climate and culture, students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community, Pre-k through 12th grade and communication, assessment and accountability.
This year, Vincent celebrated the diversity division’s 10-year anniversary with a series of 30 events that will continue throughout the year, even after Vincent has left.
Vincent has also taught legal courses at UT over the past 10 years. The final course he taught was “Race and Law” this semester, which examined the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender and class within American law.
As vice president for diversity and community engagement, Vincent often took a prominent stand when the campus climate turned tense.
After anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant fliers were found on campus in February, he issued a statement condemning the posters, and he did so again when anti-Chinese fliers were found on campus in April. In October, after a bake sale protesting affirmative action was held, Vincent spoke at a community forum to explain affirmative action as it relates to college admission.
Even though Vincent is leaving soon, he said his work at UT is not yet finished.
“During the next few months, I will be working closely with President Fenves and continuing work on a number of important initiatives on campus and in the community,” Vincent said.