Hobart and William Smith Colleges will welcome Dr. Gregory J. Vincent ’83, vice president for diversity and community engagement, W.K. Kellogg Professor of Community College Leadership and Professor of Law at The University of Texas at Austin, as the keynote speaker for Convocation 2016. A renowned expert on civil rights and education, Vincent has presided over UT’s rapidly growing division of diversity and community engagement, now nationally regarded as exemplary.
“From his time as Ohio’s Assistant Attorney General to his current role in Austin, Gregory Vincent has been a powerful voice for the free and equitable exchange of ideas,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “He is a vital advocate for bringing together diverse people and varied perspectives to create a vibrant learning and working environment. Hobart and William Smith are proud to welcome this accomplished leader and alumnus back to campus to deepen our community’s conversations around these critical issues.”
Convocation, which marks the beginning of the academic year and welcomes new HWS community members, will begin at 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 29, on Stern Lawn.
A Statesman on both the basketball and cross-country teams, Vincent majored in history and economics at the Colleges. He went on to earn a law degree from Ohio State University and a doctorate from The University of Pennsylvania.
As Ohio’s Assistant Attorney General, he successfully argued several major civil rights cases before the Ohio Supreme Court and also served as vice president and lead counsel for Bank One.
Vincent’s return to education began with an appointment as assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was then appointed vice provost for academic affairs and campus diversity and law professor at Louisiana State University and then vice provost for institutional equity and diversity and law professor at The University of Oregon.
Since he joined UT in 2005, the division he oversees has grown to encompass a $50 million budget with more than 400 employees. He recently played a major role in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, in which the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the use of affirmative action in higher education.
The Austin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) presented Vincent with its Community Service Award in 2009 and, in 2012, with its highest honor, the DeWitty/Overton Freedom Award, for committing himself “to raise awareness and educate the community on the importance of diversity and inclusion.”
Vincent has been active in promoting a number of local causes, serving as senior warden at St. James Episcopal Church in Austin and as the primary advocate for the African American Studies Cultural Center, among other roles.