Keynote Speakers

Monday, October 26

Dr. Ruth J. Simmons serves as President of Prairie View A&M. She was President and Professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies at Brown University from 2001-2012. Under her leadership, Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.

After completing her Ph.D. in 1973 in Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before her appointment in 1999 as President of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. She launched a number of important academic initiatives at Smith, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.

Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. Simmons is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on the boards of FCAU, NV, and Square, as well as a number of non-profit boards, including the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, the Holdsworth Center, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Awarded numerous honorary degrees, in 2011, she received the Brown faculty’s highest honor: the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal. In 2012, the president of France named her a ‘chevalier’ of the French Legion of Honor.

Tuesday, October 27

In November 2012, Dr. Mary E. González was elected State Representative for House District 75—an area that includes east El Paso County, the fastest growing parts of the city of El Paso and the towns of San Elizario, Socorro, Clint, Fabens, and Tornillo. Mary was raised in Clint, Texas and graduated from Clint High School. She is currently serving her fourth term at the Texas House of Representatives.

Mary serves on the Appropriations Committee, the Public Education Committee, and is Vice Chair of the Local & Consent Calendars Committee in the Texas House. Throughout her time as a State Representative, she has authored numerous bills to improve public schools, increase economic development, and support agriculture in House District 75 and throughout the state. She is currently serving her second term as Vice Chair for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, a second term as Secretary of the House Border Caucus, and the Chair of the new Texas House LGBTQ Caucus.

Mary González was also elected Vice Chair of the Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs. a national non-partisan, 501 (c)3 non-profit organization comprised of the elected Latina/o officials serving as the chairs and vice chairs of their respective state Hispanic Legislative Caucuses from across the country, as well as other Latina/o members serving in leadership position.

Mary received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Texas at Austin and her Master's Degree from St. Edward's University, and her Doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction- Cultural Studies in Education at UT-Austin. Previously, she has worked at the National Hispanic Institute, the University of Texas at Austin, and as the Assistant Dean for Student Multicultural Affairs at Southwestern University. Mary currently serves as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for Allgo, Texas' state-wide Queer People of Color organization.

As a result of her accomplishments, she was named "Freshman of the Year" by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, a "Champion of Equality" by Equality Texas two sessions in a row, and the 2015 "Advocate of the Year" by the same organization. In 2015, she was the youngest inductee into the El Paso Women's Hall of Fame. She also received the Progressive Movement Leadership Award from the Young Elected Officials Network at their 2017 National Convening and as a "Leader of Promise" by the YWCA of Greater Austin in Honor of her commitment to eliminating racism and empowering women. In 2017, González was nominated for the national Victory Fund Award, an award created to honor state LGBTQ elected officials. Most recently, Rep. Mary González was awarded the “Champion for Children” title by the Equity Center, a Texas-based nonprofit organization that strives to create a more equitable public school finance system.

Mary has been recognized by Latino Leaders Magazine for her leadership in education, was recognized as one of ten "Next Generation Latinas" by Latina Magazine, and as one of the 10 newly-elected politicians to watch in the nation by NBC Latino.

Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly joined The University of Texas at Austin as senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students in April 2006. She collaborates with students, faculty and staff to help create a safe and welcoming campus where students can thrive through healthy learning environments.

Dr. Lilly began serving as vice president for student affairs and dean of students at The University of Texas at Austin in September 2016. She leads a diverse portfolio of nine departments in the Division of Student Affairs that are dedicated to providing a cutting-edge student experience from orientation through graduation. The Division includes 14 on-campus residence halls and their dining facilities, medical and mental health services, new student orientation, recreational sports and two university unions. The Division also supports 1,100 student organizations, student emergency and veteran services, and leadership programs.

As a College of Education faculty member in the Department of Educational Administration, Dr. Lilly co-chairs dissertations and teaches graduate level courses, helping to shape the next generation of higher education professionals.

For over 30 years, Dr. Lilly has been committed to helping students have a successful college experience. She began her career as a student union program coordinator followed by progressive leadership roles in student affairs at major universities. Before joining UT Austin, she served as assistant vice chancellor of student affairs administration at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Active in the community, Dr. Lilly served on the board of trustees for St. Michael's Catholic Academy. She also served on the Caritas of Austin Community Advisory Board and the Austin Child Guidance Center Board of Directors. A graduate of Leadership Texas, Dr. Lilly is a member of American Association of University Women and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has a son and daughter.

Dr. Lilly earned a bachelor's degree in economics at The University of California at Irvine, a master's in education at California State University, San Bernardino, and a doctorate in education administration at the University of Southern California.

Kyle Clark manages all aspects of the University Leadership Network (ULN) program, including leading a team of highly motivated professionals who work in service to students and their success to graduation and beyond. Kyle returned to ULN after spending a year leading new student orientation, first-year experience initiatives, and family engagement at St. Edward’s University. Kyle has spent nearly 20 years at The University of Texas at Austin, with experience in residence life, orientation, and student success. Kyle earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a certificate in African and African-American studies from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from UT.

Wednesday, October 28

Dr. Michael J. Sorrell is the longest-serving President in the 148-year history of Paul Quinn College. During his 13 years of leadership, Paul Quinn has become a national movement for its efforts to remake higher education in order to serve the needs of under-resourced students and communities.

Included among Paul Quinn’s numerous accomplishments during President Sorrell’s tenure are the following: winning the HBCU of the Year, the HBCU Student Government Association of the Year, and the HBCU Business Program of the Year awards; achieving recognition as a member of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll; creating the New Urban College Model; demolishing 15 abandoned campus buildings; partnering with PepsiCo to transform the football field into the WE over Me Farm; achieving full-accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS); creating the College’s first faculty-led study abroad program; and rewriting all institutional fundraising records. 

President Sorrell is one of the most decorated college presidents in America. He has been named Higher Education’s President of the Year by Education Dive; one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine; is the only three-time recipient of the HBCU Male President of the Year Award (2018, 2016 and 2012); and Time Magazine listed him as one of the “31 People Changing the South.” Washington Monthly Magazine identified him as one of America’s 10 Most Innovative College Presidents and Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. and PUSH/Excel honored him with its Education Leadership Award. Michael is the recipient of both the Dallas Bar Association’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award and the City of Dallas’ Father of the Year Award. In addition to being a member of the “Root 100” (a list of the top 100 emerging leaders in America) by the Root Online Magazine, Michael has received: the Distinguished Alumni Award from Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois; the A. Kenneth Pye Award for Excellence in Education from Duke University’s School of Law Alumni Association; the Social Innovator Award from Babson College; the Vision Award, Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Middlebury College; Luminary Award from SMU; and the TRACS Leadership Award. The Dallas Historical Society honored Michael for Excellence in Educational Administration. He is a past recipient of the Dallas Urban League’s Torch for Community Leadership and both the President’s and C.B. Bunkley Awards from J.L. Turner for his outstanding contributions to the Dallas legal community. Michael also has an honorary degree from Austin College.

Michael received his J.D. and M.A. in Public Policy from Duke University and his Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (where his dissertation defense was awarded “with Distinction”). While in law school, he was one of the founding members of the Journal of Gender Law & Policy and served as the Vice President of the Duke Bar Association. Michael was a recipient of a Sloan Foundation Graduate Fellowship, which funded his studies at both Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (as a graduate fellow) and Duke University. He graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in Government, served as Secretary-Treasurer of his senior class, was a two-time captain of the men’s varsity basketball team, and graduated as the school’s fifth all-time leading scorer.

Among the entities that President Sorrell serves as a trustee or director for are Duke University’s School of Law, the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, JP Morgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways, Amegy Bank, the Hockaday School, the Dallas Advisory Board of Teach for America, the Dallas Foundation, and EarthX.

Michael is a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

President Sorrell is married to the former Natalie Jenkins. Natalie is an alumna of Spelman College and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. They have two wonderful children, Michael Augustus and Sage Louise-Sinclair.


Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators
tacuspa@tacuspa.net

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