Hobart and William Smith Colleges has tapped a prominent diversity officer, who happens to be one of their alumni, to lead their institution as the next college president.
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, who is currently vice president for diversity and community engagement and a professor in the School of Law at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), will begin his post on July 16.
“Though it is very difficult to see such an accomplished leader depart our university, I know that Dr. Vincent will flourish in his new role and continue to transform the lives of students — just as he has done for so many years at UT,” said Dr. Gregory L. Fenves, president of UT.
“Throughout his tenure, Dr. Vincent developed innovative approaches to recruit and support diverse faculty members and graduate students. He has strengthened academic support for students of color, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and first-generation college students.”
Vincent becomes the colleges’ first Black president.
Fenves said that, under Vincent’s leadership, UT released the university Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan last month, “which serves as a blueprint for how we can continue to create a more equitable and inclusive experience for students, faculty members and staff members of all backgrounds.”
He also lauded Vincent for his efforts in the Fisher v. University of Texas case in 2015, which challenged the use of affirmative action in college admissions.
“When the court later ruled in our favor, it was a victory for UT and a victory for students across the nation,” said Fenves. “Dr. Gregory Vincent helped make it possible.”
Vincent, who earned a law degree from The Ohio State University and a doctoral degree in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania, spent 11 years at UT and was the first person to serve as vice president for diversity and community engagement.
Prior to being hired at UT, Vincent was vice provost for institutional equity and diversity and a law professor at the University of Oregon. He has also held administrative and teaching stints at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Louisiana State University.
Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson, Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education and director and chief research scientist for Wisconsin’s Equity & Inclusion Laboratory, said that Vincent has been a strong supporter of diversity.
“Dr. Gregory J. Vincent revolutionized how large research institutions could improve the overall campus experience in classrooms, research teams and community engagement efforts through the chief diversity officer position,” said Jackson.
“What he did at the University of Texas at Austin is a serious case study of what could happen when an institution truly commits and invests in ‘inclusive excellence.’ Hobart and William Smith Colleges too have committed to ‘inclusive excellence,’ so I expect that he will transform the colleges into a benchmark institution during his presidency.”
In an interview with Diverse, Vincent said that he is excited to take on this new career challenge.
“What an honor to go back to lead your alma mater and to be selected unanimously,” said Vincent, who added that his support for the liberal arts remains strong. As a chief diversity officer and tenured faculty member, Vincent said that he developed a strong professional portfolio that has readied him to manage the day-to-day operations. “I feel like I am set up for success.”
Thomas S. Bozzuto, chair of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees, praised Vincent as a visionary and thought leader.
“Dr. Vincent is an exemplary educator, scholar and leader whose experiences in higher education administration and community engagement are an ideal fit for Hobart and William Smith,” said Bozzuto. “Selected from a large number of very qualified applicants, Greg’s character, vision and expertise were obvious. 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.”
Jamal Eric Watson can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter @jamalericwatson.