The University of Texas at Austin celebrated three individuals, a family and two nonprofits for their commitment to education and service to the Hispanic community at an awards ceremony at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin on Oct. 3.
More than 200 people attended the ceremony sponsored by the Office of the President and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.
Two people received the Community Leadership Circle Award: David Garza, owner of Garza Design & Construction and Dr. John Hogg, physician and Austin Radiological Association partner. Jody Conradt, former head women’s basketball coach for UT Austin, received special recognition as a founder of the Neighborhood Longhorns Program (NLP), which celebrates its 20th anniversary as an educational incentive program for students in grades 2-8 at Title I schools in the Austin Independent School District. Nonprofit Con Mi MADRE and the Tejano Monument Inc., received Community Partnership Awards.
The family of Severiano (“S.A.”) and Viola Garza, both alumni of UT Austin, received the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Legacy Award for their long-time support and leadership to the university.
“These men and women are not only highly accomplished in their own rights in commerce, education and medicine, but they also actively serve on boards, committees, and organizations charged with improving our communities,” said Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “They provide a wonderful example of leading through service for the next generation.”
Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, said, “This year’s honorees are pillars in the Austin community and in the state. By working on behalf of others, the Community Leadership Award honorees enrich our lives with their dedication to education, the arts and Texas culture.”
Serving nearly 3,000 patrons and 150 nonprofits a year, the Regional Foundation Library (RFL) celebrated its 50 year anniversary last week as a community resource to nonprofits and individuals in Texas.
On Oct. 23, about 40 individuals from nonprofits, foundations and the community gathered at the library, located on the second floor of the Community Engagement Center, at 1009 East 11th Street, to celebrate the legacy that the library has created. Since 1962, the library has educated nonprofits, students, and others on researching funding opportunities, grant-making and offering workshops on nonprofit formation. The library serves more than 2,500 patrons a year, including 150 nonprofit organizations.
“Not every major city has a regional foundation library so Austin is very fortunate to have this advantage in our city,” said Dr. Meredith Morrow, Austin Lyric Opera’s institutional gifts manager.
The RFL was the fifth such entity created in the country, and now there are more than 400 regional collections. Originally, the library was a part of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, but in 2007 both units separated and are now housed within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. Read more.
The Academic Service-Learning (ASL) program is unique in that it caters to students and faculty alike by helping them to develop and find resources to enhance classroom learning.
Recently ASL director Dr. Suchi Gururaj and graduate research assistant Katie Pritchett organized a faculty panel to educate university members about the benefits of offering courses that tie community involvement with class assignments that allow students to garner real-world knowledge and a hands-on educational experience. Read more.
The University of Texas Elementary School officially dedicated its new building on Wednesday, Oct. 17, before a crowd of about 150 plus the school’s students, faculty and staff. Melissa Chavez, executive director of UT Elementary spoke along with UT Austin President Bill Powers; Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement; Dr. Ed Sharpe, College of Educational Administration; Pat Oles, chair of the capital campaign committee; Gabi Alejo, parent; Amethyst Rodriguez and Averill Topps, students; and Dr. Mark Gooden, Department of Educational Administration and chair of the UT Elementary Management Board. Students who participate in the UT Strings Project performed beforehand. The highlight came when the students sang the school song, displaying the hook’em horns sign.
Those familar with UT Elementary School know the cheerily painted portables have been well loved. But the buildings were in need of repair and the space was inefficient to meet the demands of a demonstration school. For nine years students, faculty, staff and parents have dreamed of a permanent facility.
“You know the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ that’s what it took to get this building constructed said Chavez. “So many people put in so much of their time, talent and resources to make this happen. It is a tribute to how much people care about this school and completely and truly believe it is important.”
Designed by Studio 8 Architects and built by Zapalac/Reed, the new building houses the administrative offices, gymnasium, cafeteria, demonstration kitchen, library, faculty lounge and classroom space for University of Texas at Austin College of Education professors.
A third of University of Texas at Austin students commit to community service each semester, an accomplishment that the Volunteer and Service Learning Center (VSLC) is choosing to recognize monthly through a recently expanded program.
“Most of these community efforts go unnoticed by our campus, so the purpose of this program is to broadcast and highlight the contributions made to the local community by members of the student body,” said Yvonne Loya, VSLC director.
Recently, Mayra Cerda, chemistry and UTEACH senior, learned that she was selected as the outstanding student volunteer for September. This is her third semester volunteering at Ruiz Branch Library with the VICTORY Tutorial Program, working with seven elementary and middle school students. She continues volunteering two nights a week because, “I learn as much from the kids as the kids learn from me.”
The outstanding student group also recognized is Sigma Lambda Beta, a Hispanic male fraternity that places community service high among its principles. The group has volunteered with the River City Youth Foundation (RCYF), a comprehensive neighborhood-based youth agency serving Dove Springs in South Austin, for the past seven years.
Ricardo Ventura, corporate communications senior, said that Dove Springs is a heavily Latino community and he finds the children they interact with relate easily to the group’s membership.
“A lot of the fraternity brothers don’t necessarily come from the best neighborhoods, but we’ve all had at least one role model who was there for us so that’s just our way of giving back to the community,” he said.
Awardees receive a certificate and a gift card from a local vendor. Community agencies are encouraged to submit nominations, and students and registered campus organizations can self-nominate.
By Simone Roberts, DDCE Intern
This past week DDCE caught up with Dallas attorney Mandisa Price, a University of Texas at Austin alumna and annual donor to the division’s Vice President’s Fund for Excellence to learn why she supports DDCE. “I donate to DDCE, because I believe in its vision and goals,” said Price. In fact, Price served as student member of the Task Force for Racial Respect and Fairness which was instrumental in the formation of the DDCE. She remembers the task force members viewed their role as proactive and transformational in nature.
“We really wanted to lay out a vision for the university and ensure that the university maintained and initiated policies that created an atmosphere and culture of inclusion,” she said. “Fostering diversity and inclusion is important to me. I want to support the programs of the division, which I think are vital to the campus, including but not limited to the Gender and Sexuality Center, Multicultural Engagement Center, and Services for Students with Disabilities. My unrestricted gifts to DDCE provide the opportunity for me to do this.”