NHI and Austin College celebrate 25 years of the Texas Great Debate
Austin College and the National Hispanic Institute commemorated 25 years of partnership during the 25th edition of NHI’s Texas Great Debate program June 11-14, highlighted by key leaders from both educational institutions coming together at several different points during the weekend to celebrate the rich history of their partnership.
Austin College has partnered with NHI since 1990 as the host college for the Texas Great Debate, one of NHI’s longest-running programs, which features teams of high school students representing the state’s major cities and regions, and the teams prepare for months under the tutelage of NHI alumni for the speech and debate competition.
“We’ve been fortunate to have created and nurtured this partnership with Austin College for a quarter of a century now,” said NHI founder and president Ernesto Nieto. “The Texas Great Debate is our largest and one of our oldest programs, with almost 400 people in attendance; Austin College’s support has allowed us to grow and develop community-based leadership organizations in eight key cities in Texas. It’s our mission to cultivate leaders for an ever-growing U.S. Latino community, and the Texas Great Debate has changed the lives of literally thousands of young Texans who now lead in their respective communities.”
“The National Hispanic Institute is an outstanding organization providing exemplary academic and co-curricular experiences for student leaders, and it has been our pleasure and honor to partner with an organization so deeply committee to access and excellence,” said Austin College president, Dr. Marjorie Hass. “These are strong Austin College values as well and we look forward to hosting this meaningful student opportunity for future leaders.”
Both Ernesto Nieto and his wife, NHI Executive Vice President Gloria de Leon, received honorary doctorates from Austin College in 2011. Nieto, a Distinguished Alumni of Southwestern University, launched NHI in 1979, and developed the “immersive-disruptive” learning curriculum at the heart of NHI’s programs. Nieto has been honored for his lifetime of leadership education by a number of institutions, including the National Education Association, which awarded him its George I. Sánchez Memorial Award in 2013. This year, Nieto was named a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow by the Council of Independent Colleges.
Austin College was represented by a number of its top officials at both the Opening Ceremonies event and a special breakfast event and meeting for leaders with both organizations, including:
• Nan Davis, Vice President for Institutional Enrollment
• Dr. Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty
• Matthew Krov, Associate Vice President for Institutional Enrollment
• Michael Deen, Dean of Students
• Michael Davila, Assistant Director of SEED (Student Engagement, Enrichment, and Development)
Nieto attended Opening Ceremonies and the breakfast event with Nicole Sada, NHI’s Executive Vice President; Chris Nieto, Education Director for this year’s Texas Great Debate; and Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez, board chair for NHI. A number of NHI board members, as well as several key NHI and AC alumni, made the trip to Sherman for the Saturday breakfast event as well.