Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette is the president and CEO of Huston-Tillotson University right here in Austin. She has a fascinating story, and through our conversation we get to learn a lot about Austin’s oldest university, which was actually founded as two separate universities in the 1870s. Dr. Colette started out as a black, female engineer in the 1970s- the only one in her graduating class. She spent 17 years as a corporate IT executive before she realized that her heart was in higher education. She has lived an inspiring life and has been a military wife, raised two children, and has been a pioneer and advocate for women and the black community.
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[02:27] Dr. Burnette’s story begins in Cleveland Ohio. Dr. Burnette was the first person in her family to attend college.
[03:48] Dr. Burnette was a pioneer for women in engineering.
[06:52] When Dr. Burnette graduated from Ohio State University she took a position at Proctor and Gamble. Her husband’s career took her all over the world and gave her opportunities to explore education.
[11:17] Dr. Burnette took a teaching position at a community college and her journey as an educator began.
[19:03] Why was it so important for Dr. Burnette to get her doctorate degree?
[22:37] Being a black female made the path to leadership more challenging for Dr. Burnette.
[24:10] Dr. Burnette googled, “Am I too old to get my doctorate?”
[28:14] The order in which she did things made Dr. Burnette uniquely qualified.
[33:04] It was a very intense process to become the president at Huston-Tillotson University.
[34:49] Dr. Burnette was not familiar with Austin and originally wasn’t sure that Huston-Tillotson would be the right fit for her.
[36:56] The history of Huston-Tillotson intrigued Dr. Burnette even before she decided to apply for a job there.
[46:35] There is a difference between racism and bias.
[47:32] How can Austinites support Huston-Tillotson’s mission?
[57:20] Jackie Robinson used to be the athletic director at Huston-Tillotson.
[58:42] Dr. Burnette’s favorite taco is the shrimp taco at Takoba.
[59:45] Next week we will talk to Bridget Dunlap of Dunlap ATX.
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