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Michael Barnes

Tributes rain down on outgoing UT VP Gregory Vincent

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The community farewell for Gregory Vincent at the AT&T Center was something to behold.

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Kim and Gregory Vincent at his Community Farewell. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Two University of Texas presidents, Gregory Fenves and Bill Powers, along with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and President and & CEO of the Austin Area Urban League, Teddy McDaniel III, were there to laud the outgoing UT vice-president for diversity and community engagement. So was Fine Arts College Dean Doug Dempster, Austin City Council Member Ora Houston, former State Rep. Wilhelmina Delco and several of my favorite judges. 

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Suchitra Gururaj and Erica Saenz at Vincent Gregory Community Farewell. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

A long line of distinguished speakers lionized Vincent, who leaves to take the president’s job at his alma mater, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York. (Take a winter coat!)

MORE: UT diversity czar Gregory Vincent leaving to lead alma mater.

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Jeff Becker and Tatiana Artis at Gregory Vincent Community Farewell. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Representatives from four black alumni groups, five fraternities and sororities and five community organizations from outside UT praised his ability to bring African-American, Asian-American, Latino and LGBT groups into the heart of the university.

Among many other things, Gregory deftly handled the removal of controversial statues from the South Mall and he mended strained relationships with East Austin residents. Although we’ve socialized almost exclusively in public, he’s also been a dear friend. I’ll miss Gregory and his wife, Kim Wilson Vincent, very much.

CHARLES AKINS HONORED

Meanwhile we learned that, on the West Coast, the late William Charles Akins, a distinguished Austin educator after whom Akins High School is named, was given a Celestial Award of Excellence posthumously. Rev. Lee Yarbrough, pastor of Neighborhood Baptist Church, accepted the award in his behalf.
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Late Austin educator Charles Akins. American-Statesman

He was in good company: Other honorees included Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, actor Lou Gossett, Jr., Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, wife of the slain leader Edgar Evers.
We also miss Akins, who always helped any reporter or historian who had questions about Austin at midcentury or later.