Vincent ’83 Featured in Daily Messenge - Hobart and William Smith Colleges
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Vincent ’83 Featured in Daily Messenger

President Gregory J. Vincent ’83 discussed his new role at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the power of an HWS education and his vision going forward in a recently published article in the Daily Messenger. The story about Vincent’s return to his alma mater appeared as a front-page feature in the paper.

“What I want our students to do—and I believe our students do—is that they’re able to see an issue and then they’re empowered to do something about it, and that’s what we mean about living a life of consequence,” Vincent said.

The feature story also noted building upon the enduring connection between HWS and the Geneva community.

“It’s very exciting to connect with the Geneva community,” Vincent said. “I’m very impressed with the efforts of the Geneva leadership and community and the elected officials in really making Geneva an All-America City.”

A national expert on civil rights, social justice and campus culture, Vincent previously served at The University of Texas at Austin as Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, W.K. Kellogg Professor of Community College Leadership and Professor of Law. His extensive career is distinguished by his commitment to equity and justice, both in education and in the wider public arena.

Vincent is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., serving as national chair of the Commission on Racial Justice. He is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (The Boulé) where he serves as the Grand Sire Archon-Elect (President-Elect). He earned a law degree from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and his doctorate from The University of Pennsylvania.

The full text of the Daily Messenger article is as follows:

 

Daily Messenger
“Hobart and William Smith alumnus returns to assume presidency”
Denise Champagne • Aug. 11, 2017

GENEVA — Taking over the presidency of Hobart and William Smith Colleges is sort of a homecoming for Gregory Vincent, an alumnus, renowned civil rights expert, attorney and award-winning educator.

“It has been the honor of my career to come back to my alma mater to serve as president,” he said during a recent interview at his Geneva office. “I love my alma mater. It holds an enviable place in the national liberal arts market.”

Vincent, who took over leadership of the colleges in mid-July, succeeds Mark Gearan, who served as president for 18 years, the longest term in the history of the colleges. Vincent is the first HWS graduate to become president of the colleges.

“I could not be more grateful for Mark’s leadership and his excellence, the way he led this campus with such compassion and skill,” Vincent said. “That’s a great opportunity to be able to continue after a successful tenure.”

Thomas Bozzuto, chair of the board of trustees that unanimously approved Vincent’s appointment in April, called him an exemplary educator, scholar and leader whose experiences in higher education and administration made him an ideal fit for HWS.

“Selected from a large number of very qualified applicants, Greg’s character, vision and expertise were obvious,” Bozzuto stated in an HWS release. “He has dedicated his life to ensuring access to education and to providing opportunities for students to succeed. We are thrilled to welcome him and confident in his ability to lead the colleges into a new era of achievement.”

Vincent comes to Hobart and William Smith Colleges from the University of Texas at Austin where he was vice president for diversity and community engagement, W.K. Kellogg Professor of Community College Leaders and a professor of law.

Vincent wants to make Hobart and William Smith Colleges the No. 1 liberal arts institution in the country, building on its representation that recently garnered recognition from the Princeton Review as No. 1 in the nation for study abroad and 18th in the nation for happiest students and professors getting high marks.

He wants to see students engaged with faculty and each other, making the entire world their laboratory; being passionate about the arts, science and humanities; caring about the environment; and finding solutions to problems they encounter.

Vincent said one of the most memorable commencement speakers he has seen was Bono, lead singer of the Irish rock band U2, who said many people are afraid to identify something as a problem because they then feel a moral obligation to do something to solve the issue.

“What I want our students to do — and I believe our students do — is that they’re able to see an issue and then they’re empowered to do something about it, and that’s what we mean about living a life of consequence,” Vincent said, referring to the college’s tagline and commitment to excellence.

Vincent is beginning his tenure in learning mode, listening to people, getting to know his leadership team and members of the community, and touring the campus. He plans to attend as many events as possible this fall and is excited to greet students, particularly incoming freshmen, when classes start Aug. 28.

Vincent said he is a big believer that great things can happen with structure, talent and resources and one of the first things he wants to do is make sure the faculty, staff and students have the resources they need to be effective.

“We’ll have a new (fundraising) campaign,” he said. “We’re getting ready for our campaign to really be able to connect with our alums and other supporters about our vision of excellence so that we can truly stay competitive in this national liberal arts market.”

Vincent expects a successful campaign to grow opportunities for students to study abroad, have research opportunities and paid internships, support faculty in their research and teaching opportunities, and to continue the physical growth of the colleges where a lot of construction is taking place.

He and his wife Kim Wilson Vincent, an attorney, will live in the on-campus president’s house with their son Cameron, who will attend Geneva Middle School.

“She is a great partner and the reason why this opportunity has worked is because of her enthusiastic support,” Vincent said of his wife. “One of the things she shared with me as we were talking about this opportunity is that ‘You were called to do this and you love the place,’ and she’s right.”

The Vincents, who were very active in Austin, plan to immerse themselves in the Geneva community, as well, recognizing the important relationship between the colleges and local communities.

“It’s very exciting to connect with the Geneva community,” Vincent said. “I’m very impressed with the efforts of the Geneva leadership and community and the elected officials in really making Geneva an All-America City.”

Vincent is also impressed with the HWS faculty that he said truly transforms lives in their teaching, research and service, things that benefited him when he attended, majoring in history and economics. In fact, some of the professors he had are still teaching such as Christopher Gunn, an emeritus professor of economics who joined the faculty in 1978, and Mike Hanna, a 1968 graduate and athletics director since 1981.

Vincent’s most influential mentors, though, remain his parents, Cyril and Gloria Vincent, now retired in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He said they taught him, often through example, to do things the right way, and instilled in him an intellectual curiosity, a love of reading and a value of hard work.

His mother, a retired drug and alcohol counselor, also served on the school board in the Bronx where Vincent grew up, watching her go through campaigns and elections, always advocating for children, making each her own.

After graduating from HWS, Vincent earned a law degree at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and became an assistant attorney general in Ohio where he successfully argued several major civil rights cases and was promoted to director for regional and legal affairs at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission in Cleveland, later serving as vice president and lead counsel for Bank One.

“I wanted to fight for justice,” Vincent said, noting he was also inspired by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

Vincent recognizes shifting from a litigator to an educator was a huge career change at age 29, but said he realized as an attorney, the help he could offer to remedy a situation often came after the harm was done, but as an educator he could help inspire the next generation of leaders and avoid the harm in the first place.

“And certainly now, as president, that is my goal to help students be active in their communities, to rid out prejudices and the things that divide us,” he said.

Vincent returned to school, earning a doctorate in education in 2004 at the University of Pennsylvania and joining the University of Texas at Austin. In 2016, he served as UT spokesman when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, upholding the use of affirmative action in higher education.

“One of the most powerful memories I have from our time working together was of walking beside Dr. Vincent on the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court after the oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas case in 2015,” UT Austin President Gregory Fenves wrote in announcing Vincent’s departure. “Dr. Vincent was central to UT’s successful effort to uphold the use of race and ethnicity as part of admissions process, and we walked out of the court that day together, proud that we had made the argument in support of the educational benefits of diversity.”

Vincent has also worked at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Louisiana State University and the University of Oregon. He has received numerous awards and honors, and served on the boards of many nonprofit and community organizations.

His memberships include the HWS Statesmen Athletic Association, the Moritz College of Law National Council, the Heron Society, Wheeler Society, Emerson Society, president-elect of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

The Vincents also have five grown children: Ashleigh, an academic counselor at Louisiana State University; Greg Jr., a financial analyst with Proctor & Gamble Co.; Camille, a park ranger in Atlanta; Shawn, a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston; and Raymond, a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

About Gregory Vincent
• Hobart and William Smith Colleges, BA in history and economics, 1983
• The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Juris Doctor, 1987
• Assistant attorney general, Ohio, successfully argued many major civil rights cases
• Promoted to director for regional and legal affairs, Ohio Civil Rights Commission
• Vice president, lead counsel, Bank One
• Assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison
• Vice provost, academic affairs and campus diversity, law professor, Louisiana State University
• Vice provost for institutional equity and diversity, law professor, University of Oregon
• Earned Doctor of Education, University of Pennsylvania, 2004
• Vice president/W.K. Kellogg professor, University of Texas at Austin
• President, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

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