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Commencement Speakers

Fall 2016: Gus and Marina Garcia

Gus Garcia and his wife, Marina, are longtime Austin civic leaders who continue to make a positive impact on the city.

The first in his family to attend college, Gus Garcia graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in accounting. After establishing his business as a certified public accountant, Marina enrolled at the University of Texas and completed a master’s degree in education.

The couple has spent decades working to improve the lives of Austin’s citizens.

Gus served as a charter member of the 1967 Human Relations Commission during the Civil Rights movement. In 1972, he became the first Hispanic elected to the Austin Independent School Board and helped galvanize voter support for the establishment of Austin Community College in a December 1972 referendum. Gus joined the Austin City Council in the 1990s and became the city’s first Hispanic mayor in 2001.

Marina spent 20 years leading bilingual special education programs in Central Texas schools. “It’s important that students have the opportunity to find success. Oftentimes that begins early on,” Marina says.

Among his many accomplishments, Gus Garcia has been honored with the 1992 LULAC Award for Political Involvement & Education and the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Service Award of the Boy Scouts of America Capital Area Council. He was named Hispanic of the Year by the Austin Independent School District in 1991 and Businessman of the Year by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce in 1984. He’s also been recognized with the Martin Luther King Association Humanitarian Award.

The Austin City Council named a park and recreation center in his honor, the Austin ISD named a middle school in his honor, and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce selected Gus as its first Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. 

Now retired, Gus and Marina Garcia continue their work with students through local community centers. They also enjoy spending time with their three children and five grandchildren.

Past commencement speakers

  • 2016 (Spring)Art Acevedo
  • 2015 (Fall) Belle S. Wheelan, Ph.D.
  • 2015 (Spring) Dr. Walter Bumphus, president/CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, and Dr. Aileen Bumphus, executive director of the University of Texas at Austin’s Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence Gateway Scholars Program
  • 2014 (Fall) Victor Hwang, Executive Director of the Global Innovation Summit
  • 2014 (Spring) Dr. Dan Arvizu, Director & Chief Executive of National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • 2013 (Fall) Ben Barnes, Former Lieutenant Governor of Texas
  • 2013 (Spring) Andres Alcantar, Texas Workforce Commission Chairman
  • 2012 (Fall) Wilhelmina Delco, Former Texas State Representative, founding member, ACC Board of Trustees, and Dr. Exalton Delco, Former ACC Vice-President, Academic Affairs
  • 2012 (Spring) Dr. John Roueche, UT-Austin Community College Leadership Program, and Dr. Suanne Roueche, Editor, NISOD Publications, Senior Lecturer, College of Education, UT-Austin
  • 2011 Kirk Watson, Texas State Senator
  • 2010 Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, President, Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of College and Schools
  • 2009 Wilhelmina Delco, Former Texas State Representative, founding member, ACC Board of Trustees
  • 2008 Donna Howard, Texas State Representative
  • 2007 Mark Strama, Texas State Representative
  • 2006 Richard Oppel, Editor, Austin American Statesman
  • 2005 Toby Hammett Futrell, City Manager, City of Austin
  • 2004 Gustavo Garcia Austin Mayor
  • 2003 Reynaldo Garcia, Executive Director, Texas Association of Community Colleges
  • 2002 Della May Moore, Outgoing Board of Trustees member
  • 2001 Carole Keeton Rylander, State Comptroller
  • 2000 Will Davis, Founding Member, ACC Board of Trustees
  • 1999 Kirk P. Watson, Mayor, City of Austin
  • 1998 Congressman Lloyd Doggett, U.S. House of Representatives, District 10
  • 1997 Dr. Richard Fonte, President, ACC
  • 1996 Barry Waite, Senior Vice-President Motorola
  • 1995 Dr. Donald G. Phelps, W.K. Kellogg Regents Professor, UT
  • 1994 Dr. Bill Segura, President, ACC
  • 1993 Dr. Charles A. Green, Chancellor, Houston Community College System
  • 1992 Dr. Manuel J. Justiz, A.M. Aikin Regents Chair in Education Leadership, UT
  • 1991 Rod A. Risley, Executive Director, Phi Theta Kappa
  • 1990 Lawrence Williford, Sr. VP Corporate Relations, Allstate Insurance Company
  • 1989 Hon. Parker McCollough, Texas House of Representatives
  • 1988 Larry Jenkins, VP, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company
  • 1987 Dr. William H. Pickens, Executive Director, California Postsecondary Higher Education Commission
  • 1986 Gonzalo Barrientos, State Senator, District 14
  • 1985 Dr. Dan Angell, President, ACC
  • 1984 Dr. Lorrin Kennamer, Dean, College of Education, UT
  • 1983 Raymond Bynum, Commissioner, Texas Education Agency
  • 1982 J. J. Pickle, Congressman, 10th Congressional District
  • 1981 Br. Stephen Wlash, President, St. Edward’s University
  • 1980 Dr. Kenneth Ashworth, Commissioner THECB
  • 1979 Wilhelmina Delco, State Representative District 37-D
  • 1978 Carole McClellan, Mayor, City of Austin
  • 1977 Lloyd Doggett, Member, Texas Senate
  • 1976 Jimmy Snell, Mayor Pro Tempore, City of Austin
  • 1975 Gonzalo Barrientos, Texas House of Representatives
  • 1974 C.C. Colvert, Professor Emeritus, Community College Education, UT
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