In As We Saw It: The Story of Integration at the University of Texas at Austin, published this month by the University of Texas Press, President Gregory J. Vincent ’83 and his co-editors examine the story of the university’s integration through profiles of 25 students, faculty and administrators.
“The voices in this book tell an important story, one that highlights critical social changes and challenges that have resonance not just for one university, but the entire country,” says Vincent. “UT Austin’s integration holds lessons that are as relevant today as they were in the 1950s.”
A national expert on civil rights, social justice and campus culture, Vincent previously served at UT Austin as Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, W.K. Kellogg Professor of Community College Leadership and Professor of Law.
The university celebrated two milestones in 2016: the 30th anniversary of the Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights and the 60th anniversary of the first black undergraduate students to enter the university. The publisher notes, “These historic moments aren’t just special; they are relevant to current conversations and experiences on college campuses across the country. The story of integration at UT against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South is complex and momentous — a story that necessitates understanding and sharing. Likewise, this narrative is inextricably linked to current conversations about students’ negotiations of identity and place in higher education.”
Vincent’s extensive career is distinguished by his commitment to equity and justice, both in education and in the wider public arena. Prior to the start of his tenure at HWS, he presided over UT Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, now regarded as a national model. Under Vincent’s leadership, the division grew to encompass a $50 million budget with more than 400 employees and 50 units, as well as 400 local and regional partners, who connect the university’s resources to communities across the state, particularly those facing significant challenges in accessing education.
In 2016, Vincent served as university spokesperson in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, in which the United States Supreme Court ruled to uphold the use of affirmative action in higher education.
As Ohio’s assistant attorney general in the early 1990s, Vincent successfully argued several major civil rights cases before that state’s Supreme Court. He was promoted to director for regional and legal affairs at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission in Cleveland.