By Rebecca S. Jones
HOUSTON-Early on Bruce Austin understood the biblical inference, “To whom much is given, much is required.” He was blessed to be birthed into a family of educators and professionals and was also dealt his own measure of brilliance.
While he has experienced the highs of working in the most prominent positions the nation has to offer; he’s also had his share of battling with life’s most debilitating illnesses. Nevertheless, he maintains that no matter what comes his way, he will always live life to the fullest.
Austin was raised in Fifth Ward by his mother, Dorothy Hinton, an educator who later found her passion in Occupational Therapy. Due to his mother’s work schedule, his grandparents, Jones and Leatrice Hinton and aunt Geraldine Green, also shared in his rearing experience. He was educated in the Houston ISD, where he attended E.O. Smith Middle and Phillis Wheatley High Schools.
During his youth, he was involved in many extra-curricular activities. While in junior and high school, he excelled academically, served as President of the Student Council and was a decorated Boy Scout.
He went on to make numerous accomplishments in the United States Navy, over the course of a decade. During his tenure, he was nominated for the United States Navy Sailor-of-the-Year award and was awarded a Presidential Management Internship. He served in the United States Department of Justice, Washington DC, in the Offices Administrative Counsel, Information Technology, Controller, Personnel and in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for Administration.
While in the Navy, he was privileged to travel around the world visiting the likes of China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Guam, just to list a few. As he journeyed, he became fluent in several languages including, Spanish, French and Tagalog. As he learned the language of others, he would teach them his.
After completing his stint in the military, he returned home to Houston and proceeded to attend Texas Southern University. There he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, MPA in Public Administration (specialization in policy analysis and administrative law), and JD – Juris Doctorate.
With an ever-learning desire to further advance himself, he continued his quest for learning by engaging in study through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (budget formulation and federal budget processing) and attended the Department of Agriculture Graduate School (negotiation, administration, contracting and systems operations).
Upon his return to Houston in 1984, Austin served as special assistant to Commissioner El Franco Lee and later as Harris County’s director of Housing and Community Development. During his service there, he was very instrumental in many aspects and was a grave asset to the department. While serving as director, the agency became the first non-federal organization to receive the Vice President’s Hammer Award.
In 1986, Austin launched a career in the field of education. Since that time he dedicated himself to the art of teaching by serving as an adjunct professor in the graduate schools of the University of Houston – Clear Lake and Texas Southern University. For six years, he served as director at-large, Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), Washington, DC; region director, Southwestern Region ACCT; and a member of the Joint Commission on Federal Relations.
In 1989, Mr. Bruce Austin was elected to the Houston Community College Board of Trustee, where he served as Chairman of the Board. He held various leadership positions on the Board over the years, including previous service as chairman from 1990 to 1992 and again from 2000 to 2002, as well as deputy secretary of the Board in 2006. Throughout his career at HCC he maintained the position of being one of the longest tenured HCC Trustees. Accordingly, he guided the institution over the past several decades and diligently served the constituents of District II. Austin has been a passionate, strong and vocal advocate for ensuring the accessibility and affordability of education and workforce development, especially for those in underserved communities. His record is one as a stalwart of doing what is best for the institution, and he provided a historical framework for the institution, its policies as well as its important and evolving role in the community.
Photo Credit: Priscilla Graham Photography