The Board of Trustees at Talladega College has announced its choice for the institution’s next president. Learn more about new President Dr. Gregory J. Vincent in The Birmingham Times release by Solomon Crenshaw Jr. below.
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent says one of the greatest titles he has held is professor.
“I have so enjoyed teaching young people,” the New York native said. “I’ve been teaching now for well over a quarter of a century. I think about that legacy of helping to nurture young minds and, even today, doing that work.”
Today, Vincent answers to a new title: president. The Talladega College Board of Trustees on March 31 announced Vincent as the 21st president of Talladega College, succeeding Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, who announced his retirement June 1, 2021.
And as much as Vincent relished being a professor, he’s just as excited about the impact he looks to have from the president’s office.
“What you’re able to do as an administrator is have an exponential impact,” he said. “There are only 37 UNCF (United Negro College Fund) presidents so, individually and collectively, we’re working to shape educational policy and provide access to young people, and to live up to this noble and sacred mission laid out by the founders of Talladega (College) to educate the generations of young people. I do think you have that ability, so it’s not either/or, it’s both.”
Vincent, 60, was born in Harlem, raised in the Bronx and still has some family in New York. He’s no longer a New Yorker, he said, “but I’m certainly a New Yorker at heart.”
That New York mindset has taken the new Talladega president a long way. Vincent said one of the great things about his parents is they allowed him, his older brother and younger sister to explore the city.
“Even at a relatively young age, I was able to go down to the New York Public Library and some other cultural institutions (and) played basketball in Harlem,” he said. “I was able to explore this great global city. I had a bus pass and a train pass, so I felt like I could go anywhere. I definitely had that adventurous spirit.
“Like that song says, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere,” Vincent continued. “I definitely have that confidence that whether it’s an incredible place like Talladega or the broader global stage, New York prepared me well.”
The new Talladega College chief executive said his development began with his parents, who gave him three priceless gifts – unconditional love, a love of reading and a particular love of Black history. On his 16th birthday, his father gave him the autobiography of Malcolm X.
He received one of his most influential history lessons when he attended St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Harlem.
“One of the parishioners at St. Philip’s was Thurgood Marshall,” he said, citing the nation’s first Black Supreme Court justice. “I wanted to be the next Thurgood Marshall. I went to law school so that I could continue to pursue justice and continue his rich legacy.
“Everything has been around this moral compass of doing the right things the right way, living up to the ideals of our democratic society, which is why I moved into education,” Vincent said. “The thought was that if I moved into education, I could begin to work on … issues before the harm even occurred. That’s been part of my inspiration.”
Vincent is widely known as a leader and educator in higher education and as a civil rights attorney and community advocate. He currently serves as a professor of educational policy and law, inaugural executive director of the Education and Civil Rights Initiative, and program chair of the Ph.D. Specialization in Diversity Equity and Inclusion at the University of Kentucky.
Vincent in 2018 stepped down as president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges after he was accused of plagiarism. He left before an investigation, he said, “to avoid further stress to the campus community.” Later, he made several changes to the literature review of his dissertation and received approval from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, where he completed his Ph.D.
The new Talladega College president is the son of first-generation college graduates Cyril and Gloria Vincent. Each earned undergraduate degrees at City College of New York, he in electrical engineering and she in counseling before earning a master’s in counseling from Lincoln University.
Vincent and his wife, Kim, have been married for 31 years. She earned her undergraduate and law degrees at LSU.
The couple are parents of six children, of whom three are products of UNCF institutions – Ashleigh (LSU and Xavier), Camille (Spelman, Georgetown and studying for a Ph.D. at Howard), Greg Jr. (Texas), Raymond (Morehouse), Shawn (Berklee College of Music) and high school junior Cameron.
During the next three months, Vincent will work alongside Acting President Dr. Lisa Long to ensure a smooth transition. Long will remain in place until June 30, one day before Vincent’s start date of Friday, July 1. Vincent will present his vision to the college during Talladega College’s Alumni Weekend on Friday, May 5 through Sunday, May 7.
The board of trustees’ selection of Vincent came with assistance from WittKieffer, an international executive search firm, and a search committee composed of the college’s community leaders, students and alumni.