AUSTIN, Texas—The role of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin will expand early in 2007 to take on new responsibilities helping to make the campus a more inviting and inclusive environment for members of the university community and visitors to the campus.
Dr. Gregory Vincent, who in June was promoted to the new position of vice president for diversity and community engagement, said the shifting of some offices and personnel, and the development of partnerships with others will expand his area of responsibility from having eight employees and six student assistants to working with a staff of more than 150 people by early in the spring semester of 2007.
Along with the reorganization, Vincent’s office, which has been temporarily located on the second floor of the Main Building within the Office of the Provost suite, will be moved to the ground floor of the Main Building.
Vincent said the expanded areas of responsibility are part of an initiative by the university’s president, William Powers Jr., to increase the diversity of the faculty, staff and student body and to create a diverse and robust learning and work environment.
“When President Powers elevated me to vice president, he wanted the position to have strategic and operational responsibilities that would help us work toward greater diversity on campus and connect the intellectual resources of the university to the needs of the community,” Vincent said. “This will enable our campus diversity efforts to be aligned and be consistent with the best practices in higher education in the United States.”
During his 2006 address on the state of the university last September, Powers said Texas gains strength from its diverse population and he pledged to make diversity one of his highest priorities. He said the changes in Vincent’s responsibilities are an important step in the process.
“Progress has been made in diversifying the campus but more needs to be done to make this a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all students, staff and faculty in our university community,” Powers said.
The changes will include merging into his portfolio the Office of Community and School Relations, headed by Vice President James L. Hill, who has announced his decision to retire next Jan. 31. Hill’s office has been responsible for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, University Interscholastic League, Neighborhood Longhorns, Community and School Relations, University Outreach, and Pre-college Youth Development. Vincent said he intends to continue with these activities and connect university resources to the needs of the community.
Another change will be to take on responsibility for five units from the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, including the Multicultural Information Center, Services for Students with Disabilities, the Gender and Sexuality Center, Academic Enrichment Services, and the Volunteer and Service Learning Center.
Vincent said he has been working closely with Powers, Vice President for Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez and Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly and her staff in the reorganization process.
“We are continuing our commitment to diversity and to working hand-in-hand with Dr. Vincent toward the vision and goals emphasized by President Powers,” Gonzalez said. “The restructuring does not diminish our continued commitment to keep moving forward in support of these types of programs and initiatives that have played and will continue to play such important roles in making this a more inviting campus for each and every one of our students.”
Another area of reorganization will involve a partnership with the university’s School of Social Work in which his office will administer the school’s Diversity Institute, a collaborative, multidisciplinary project of faculty, staff, students and community members with a mission to educate and build inclusive communities.
Vincent came to The University of Texas at Austin in summer 2005 to fill the new position of vice provost for inclusion and cross-cultural effectiveness at The University of Texas at Austin created by former President Larry R. Faulkner in response to recommendations by the university’s Task Force on Racial Respect and Fairness. He also received an appointment as a professor in the College of Education. After Powers became president, he promoted Vincent last June to the new position as the university’s vice president for diversity and community engagement.
Since his arrival on campus, Vincent has hosted a series of “campus conversations” sessions to hear concerns from students and other members of the university community, and has met with a broad range of Austin and state public officials, opinion leaders, journalists and organizations to discuss diversity and inclusion issues.
For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.