Vincent ’83 on MLK, Free Speech and Service – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Vincent ’83 on MLK, Free Speech and Service

At the Finger Lakes Forum this January, President Gregory J. Vincent ’83 delivered a talk exploring the intersections of community, free speech and the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Held in conjunction with a number of Martin Luther King Day events, Vincent’s presentation addressed the First Amendment’s role in magnifying “what Dr. King called ‘life’s most persistent and urgent question’…‘What are you doing for others?’”

“The Constitution helps ensure that we don’t get complacent in our views, that disagreements aren’t silenced but are hashed out in the press and in Congress, in the city council chambers and across the dinner table,” Vincent said. “In this way, the ideals encapsulated in the First Amendment are central to our capacity to live and work together in a city as diverse as Geneva, in a country as diverse as the United States. They are the ideals that help close the gap between people who aren’t from the same walks of life, who don’t share the same economic status, or religious upbringing, or educational opportunities, or political views.”

A national expert on civil rights, social justice and campus culture, Vincent has devoted his career to equity and justice, both in education and in the wider public arena. His scholarship and teaching explore issues of educational equity and access, diversity in higher education, engagement and partnerships between communities and universities, and workplace discrimination.

Prior to joining HWS as president in 2017, Vincent 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. At UT-Austin, he presided over the university’s division of diversity and community engagement, now regarded as a national model. In 2016, Vincent 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. More information about Vincent’s career can be found here.

The Finger Lakes Forum, established in 1923, is a social-educational organization that features a guest speaker at each meeting who discusses various contemporary issues with the club. The Finger Lakes Forum has about 65 members and meets monthly.