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Huston-Tillotson University

Huston-Tillotson University to Celebrate 140-Year Anniversary
 with Insights from Local Alumni and the Founder’s Great-Great Grandson
During the Charter Day Convocation

 (AUSTIN, Texas) 9.28.15 — Huston-Tillotson University will celebrate 140 years of providing access to higher education during the Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, Charter Day Convocation.  The 10 a.m. program in King-Seabrook Chapel will feature alumni W. Charles Akins, Ora Houston, M. Lavon Marshall, Bertha Sadler Means, and Episcopal priest James David Richardson (pictured above left to right) who will share segments of HT’s 140-year history.  Richardson, the great-great-grandson of George Warren Richardson, founder of Samuel Huston College, is the keeper of the family records documenting the origins of the institution.

Two higher education institutions—Tillotson College, founded by what is now the United Church of Christ, and Samuel Huston College, founded by The United Methodist Church—will be honored during the Charter Day celebration.  Charter Day represents the official celebration of the Trustees’ signing of the State of Texas Charter of Incorporation that established Huston-Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University). The 1952 merger created one of the largest black Protestant church-related colleges in the country at that time. HT, a historically black institution, has the proud distinction of being Austin’s first institution of higher education with a history dating back to 1875. The University remains affiliated with both denominations.

 “As a scholar of the historical significance of historically black colleges and universities, it is important for the broader community to understand the foundation that established HT,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Colette Pierce Burnette, Ed.D.  Burnette, joined the institution July 1, 2015, serves as HT’s first female president and only the second female president in the University’s history. “To hear from individuals who carry HT’s past is a moment in history that we are pleased to share.”

Richardson serves as the priest-in-charge of the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa, California.  Previously, he served as the Rector of St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville, Virginia.  He graduated from UCLA and was a journalist in California for more than 20 years, writing about politics, the Legislature, the environment and higher education issues for two Southern California newspapers, and then for The Sacramento Bee. Richardson is the author of Willie Brown: A Biography, a full-length book about the powerful politician published by the University of California Press in 1996. Richardson entered the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley (CDSP) soon after the Brown biography was published. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2001 and served as Associate Dean at Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento, for six years. He served on several boards and commissions for the Diocese of Northern California before moving to Virginia. He was the Chaplain of the California Senate for four years.

Akins was born and raised in segregated East Austin, attending Blackshear Elementary School, Kealing Junior High School, and the ‘old’ L.C. Anderson High School. He graduated from Huston-Tillotson with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1954, received a Master of Arts degree from Prairie View A&M University in 1956, and the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from HT in 1982. He has received numerous education honors throughout his career including Anderson’s Teacher of the Year. He was selected as the first African American teacher at Johnson High School in 1964 and was named the first principal of the new L.C. Anderson High School in 1973. He retired from the Austin Independent School District (AISD) as an Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs and Associate Superintendent for Development and Community Partnership. W. Charles Akins High School was named in his honor in 1998.

Marian Lavon Jackson Marshall, a native Austinite, attended AISD schools before graduating from Huston-Tillotson with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957 in Government/Teacher Education.  She earned her Master of Education degree in  Counselor Education in 1971 from The University of Texas at Austin (UT).  After graduating from HT, she was employed at William James High School, Statesboro, Georgia, as Office Secretary/Cafeteria

Manager, before returning to Austin in 1966 for a position at her alma mater in the Student Affairs Department.  In 1992, Marshall was appointed HT’s Vice President for Student Affairs and assumed responsibility for a variety of programs within the Student Affairs unit.  She also served as Senior Class Advisor for 35 years. She is actively involved in the community and received a Presidential Commendation from former  President Jimmy Carter in 1981.  Since retirement from HT in 2001, she has been active with the St. David’s Medical Center Healthcare Volunteers and currently serves as senior advisor.  She mentors students at Sims Elementary School and lends her assistant to HT students navigating the scholarship process. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from HT in 2014.

Means is a 1945 graduate of Tillotson College with deeply-rooted ties to the Austin community.  She is a pioneer, community leader, political activist, and businesswoman as the owner of the Austin Cab Company.  Means earned a master’s degree in education from UT and enjoyed a long career in education before retiring from the AISD.  She was awarded the W. Charles Akins African American Heritage Award in 2002 for her exemplary character, leadership, and community service.  She also served on the HT Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2008.  The Bertha Sadler Means African American Resource Center located in the Anthony and Louise Viaer-Alumni Hall on the HT campus was named in her honor for her philanthropic support.

Council Member Ora Houston, daughter of O.H. Elliott and Thelma M. Elliott, was born in Rome, Georgia, and has lived in east Austin for most of her life. She attended Blackshear, Kealing, old L.C. Anderson High School, and received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and sociology from Huston-Tillotson University—all in Austin’s newly-defined District 1. Houston’s long professional history of service-oriented work includes 27 years with the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and, prior to that, working as a caseworker with Child Protective Services and Austin Travis County MHMR. After retirement Houston worked in the office of Texas Senator Gonzalo Barrientos from 1999 to 2003. Houston has participated in many local organizations and commissions. She was a member of the Citizens Advisory Task Force of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan and a member of the collaborative council of the Travis County Model Court for Children and Families. Houston was vice-chair of the Upper Boggy Creek Neighborhood Planning Team, and she was a part of the Disproportionality Committee of Family and Protective Services. She is an active member of St. James’ Episcopal Church—an inclusive, multicultural, multilingual congregation. Houston has received a number of awards in recognition of her community involvement. She lives in the home her parents built in 1954 on East 22nd.

The Charter Day program profiles top ranking seniors, features the concert choir under the direction of Dr. Gloria Quinlan, and showcases the Elite Combo under the direction of Dr. Javier Stuppard.         

Charter Day Convocation is free and open to the public.  Huston-Tillotson University is located at 900 Chicon Street with parking on Chalmers Avenue. For more information, call 512.505.3073.