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Commencement Speakers

Fall 2016: Belle S. Wheelan, Ph.D.

Belle-Wheelan Ph.D.Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and is the first African-American and the first woman to serve in this capacity. Her career spans 40 years and includes the roles of faculty member, chief student services officer, campus provost, college president and U.S. secretary of education. In several of those roles she was the first African American and/or woman to serve in those capacities.

Dr. Wheelan received her bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in Texas (1972) with a double major in psychology and sociology; her master’s from Louisiana State University (1974) in developmental educational psychology; and her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin (1984) in educational administration with a special concentration in community college leadership.

She has received numerous awards and recognition including four honorary degrees; the Distinguished Graduate Award from Trinity University (2002), and from

the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin (1992); Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, DC (2001); the AAUW Woman of Distinction Award (2002); the Suanne Davis Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Distinguished Lecturer Award (2007); the John E. Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s International Leadership Award (2010); and the AACC Leadership Award (2011).

She holds and has held membership in numerous local, state, and national organizations including Rotary International; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; the American College Testing Inc., Board of Directors; American Association of Community Colleges, Board of Directors; the Lumina Foundation for Education, Board of Directors; the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs; the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame, Board of Directors; Excelencia in Education, Board of Directors; National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Community College Honorary Board; Next Generation Learning Challenges, Advisory Panel; Project GOALS (Gaining Online Accessible Learning Through Self-Study); and the National Student Clearinghouse, Board of Directors.

Dr. Wheelan attributes her success to hard work, endurance, tenacity, and being

in the right place at the right time. She recognizes that prayer and support from family and friends make anything possible.

Dr. Wheelan is the mother of an adult son named Reginald.

Past commencement speakers

  • 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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