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2018 Featured Speakers

Friday Morning Opening Session – Keynote Address

Dr. Tia McNair

The Opening Address will be led by Dr. Tia Brown McNair, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, DC. She oversees both funded projects and AAC&U’s continuing programs on equity, inclusive excellence, high-impact educational practices, and student success, including AAC&U’s Network for Academic Renewal series of yearly working conferences. McNair also directs AAC&U’s Summer Institute on High-Impact Educational Practices and Student Success. She is the lead author of the book Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success (July 2016). McNair is a co-author on the publication Assessing Underserved Students’ Engagement in High-Impact Practices. Prior to joining AAC&U, McNair served as the Assistant Director of the National College Access Network (NCAN) in Washington, DC. Dr. McNair will guide the Convening and inspire participants to share effective strategies and evidence based research for evaluating programs and initiatives that support minority student success and will moderate a panel of college presidents from minority serving institutions.

Friday Morning Opening Session - Panel Discussion: Research on Minority Student Success

Following the Opening Session, there will be a panel discussion among leaders in minority student success efforts in higher education.

Dr. Shirley Metcalf
Shirley Metcalf, Ed.D., President, Central Oregon Community College

Dr. Shirley I. Metcalf is the fifth president in Central Oregon Community College's nearly 70-year history. She assumed the position in September 2014.

Dr. Metcalf came to COCC in 2011 as Dean of Extended Learning, overseeing the college's non-credit instruction and the COCC campuses in Redmond, Madras and Prineville. This included the Small Business Development Center, Continuing Education, Professional Development and the College's programs at the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution. In 2013, from February through June, she served as interim vice president for instruction.

Prior to coming to COCC, she held the positions of executive vice president for instruction and vice president for advancement at Lake Washington Technical College. At Hawaii Community College, she served as dean of instruction (chief academic officer) and dean of outreach. Metcalf attained the rank of full professor in business and held a tenured position with the University of Hawaii System for 26 years.

Dr. Metcalf earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Hawaii and her doctorate in education from Northern Illinois University. In 2014, Dr. Metcalf was named one of the University of Hawaii Community College's "50 Finest" for her contributions to community college education in Hawaii. As part of their 50th anniversary celebration, the UHCC credited her with a lifetime commitment to the community college system and students.

In her first year as President of COCC, she was named "Woman of the Year" by The Source Weekly newspaper in Bend, and selected as one of Bend Chamber of Commerce's "Women of the Year" nominees.

Dr. Robert Vela
Robert Vela, Ed.D.; President, San Antonio College

Dr. Robert Vela currently serves as the 12th President of San Antonio College in San Antonio, Texas. One of the largest single-campus community colleges in Texas, and one of the biggest in the nation, San Antonio College is the flagship institution in the Alamo Colleges District, which is made up of five distinct colleges. Vela assumed the role of President in August 2014, after serving as the Dean of Student Affairs, Vice President of Student Affairs, and Vice President for Student and Academic Success for nearly six years.

With more than 20 years in higher education administration, Vela brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the position as President. Before moving to San Antonio College, Vela held the position of Dean of Student Development at San Jacinto College - North Campus in Houston; Coordinator/Advisor at Coastal Bend College; and various positions at Texas A&M University – Kingsville.

Dr. Vela's personal philosophy is grounded in servant leadership, which is evident in his involvement with numerous professional organizations. Currently, Dr. Vela is President-­‐ Elect for the National Community College Hispanic Council (NCCHC), and will assume a post on the American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors (AACC) in July 2018.

His honors include the 2015 Distinguished Alumni from Texas A&M University – Kingsville, 2008 National Community College Hispanic Council Leadership Fellows Program, the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence Award in Teaching, Leadership and Learning in 2007, and the Javelina Emotional Intelligence Program Award by the American College Personnel Association in 2003. He maintains his certifications as a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Certified Counselor, and he holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Texas A&M University - Kingsville and Corpus Christi, M.S. in Counseling and Guidance and a B.A. in Psychology from Texas A&M University – Kingsville

Reynold Verrett
Reynold Verrett, Ph.D., President, Xavier University of Louisiana

Dr. Reynold Verret is the sixth president and second lay leader of Xavier University of Louisiana. Of the 107 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and 262 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States, Xavier is the only Catholic HBCU in the nation.

Prior to acceding to the presidency of Xavier, Dr. Verret has served as provost at Savannah State University and at Wilkes University. As chief academic officer, he led the university initiatives to build enrollment, enhance the quality and diversity of academic programs, develop the faculty, promote interdisciplinary efforts especially between the humanities and sciences, and to create cooperative relationships with neighboring institutions and with other partners at the K-12 and higher education levels.

He has served also Dean of Arts and Sciences at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. As faculty in Chemistry at Tulane University and also at Clark Atlanta University, Dr. Verret took great pleasure and satisfaction in the education of students at the undergraduate and graduate level. For many years, he led the Department of Chemistry as its chair at Clark Atlanta University.

As a biochemist and immunologist, Dr. Verret studied the functions of immune cells, especially the mechanisms of resistance to the lyric properties of cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Other areas of interest included fundamental properties of biological membranes and development and identifications of biosensors and biomarkers. Throughout his career, he has dedicated effort to increase the number of US students, especially from underrepresented groups, pursuing degrees in STEM disciplines and continuing to advanced study and to mitigate the shortage of qualified STEM teachers.

He has served on many professional organizations and advisory bodies, including those of the National Institutes of Health, the Board of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and the Georgia Coastal Indicators Coalition. He has received awards and fellowships for teaching and scholarship.

Dr. Verret received his undergraduate degree cum laude in biochemistry from Columbia University and the Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the laboratory of the late Har Gobind Khorana. To these degrees, were added postdoctoral experiences as fellow at the Howard Hughes Institute for Immunology at Yale and the Center for Cancer Research at MIT.

Saturday Morning Plenary Address

Elva LeBlanc

Elva LeBlanc, Ph.D., Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for Tarrant County College District

The Plenary Address will be delivered by Dr. Elva LeBlanc, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for Tarrant County College District where she is responsible for the institution’s core areas of Academic Affairs and Student Services. She provides leadership to the six campus presidents and district student services in support of the Chancellor’s vision to ensure the college is student ready. Dr. LeBlanc has provided leadership in creating the first early college high school in Tarrant County, increasing collaboration with the public schools, expanding strategic partnerships with business and industry, developing workforce programs in response to the community needs, and adding a satellite campus at Alliance airport, Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation, and Logistics (CEATL). Previously, she was President of Galveston College and Executive Vice President for Instructional Affairs at Austin Community College.

MSI Large Group Discussion Facilitators

May Toy Lukens
May Toy Lukens


Christopher Dowdy
Christopher Dowdy, Ph.D.


Rigo Rincones-Gomez
Rigo Rincones-Gomez. Ph.D.


Featured Breakout Session Presenters

Jessica Brathwaite
Jessica Brathwaite, Ph.D. 
Diana Cruz, Ph.D.
Diana Cruz