Colette Pierce Burnette, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, joined Huston-Tillotson University as president on July 1, 2015. She is the first female president of the combined institutions of Huston and Tillotson Colleges. She is a staunch believer that education is the great equalizer and not an option. She served as interim President at Pierce College in Puyallup, Washington, the Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, Executive Assistant to the President, Vice President for Information Technology and Services and Chief Information Officer at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, Dean of Information Technology at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington, and Manager of Consulting and Project Management Services at the Washington State Department of Transportation in Olympia, Washington. Colette has combined her entrepreneurial spirit and technical knowledge to forge successful careers in engineering, information technology, and higher education. Before transitioning into higher education, Dr. Burnette worked as a Computer Analyst at The Washington Post, an Operations Support Engineer at Procter and Gamble, Director of Information Systems at Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, and ran her own computer consulting firm, CompuMent.
Dr. Burnette is a strong proponent of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and civic and community engagement. She is laser-focused on finding resources to support a student-centered university. Since President Pierce Burnette’s 2015 arrival to Austin, she has been a woman on a singularly focused mission— lifting Huston-Tillotson University ensuring that any and all barriers to her students’ success are elucidated and deconstructed. Her unwavering commitment to this mission has resulted in Huston-Tillotson University forging strong partnerships such as Apple, Tesla, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Army Futures Command, Bank of America, and Indeed. Dr. Burnette’s commitment to being a servant leader is evident in her leadership positions in the Austin community as co-chair of the Mayor of Austin’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities, Board Chair of Leadership Austin, and Treasurer of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas. Her roots of community engagement for the City of Austin run deep for she proudly serves on the boards of Austin Community Foundation, Austin Transit Partnership, Greater Austin Area Black Chamber of Commerce, Austin Area Urban League, Frontier Bank, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Advisory Council, Urban Roots Advisory Council, and the Waterloo Greenway Board. Dr. Burnette also serves on national boards and committees, including the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, National Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities of the United Methodist Church, and DISCO Law.
Her many honors include the Ohio State University Outstanding Engineering Alumnus Award, Anti-Defamation League Community Hero Award, Urban Land Institute Visionary Award, iACT Hope Award, Mosaic Award, Austin Women’s Hall of Fame, Girls Empowerment Network Igniting Power in Girls Award, named one of the Ten Most Influential Women in Austin, Administrator of the Year (awarded by the Student Government Association), Distinguished Woman of the Year Award, Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s Top 25 Women in Higher Education, US Army Distinguished Civilian Volunteer Service Medal Award, Thurgood Marshall Foundation Chief Information Officer of the Year Award, Thurgood Marshall Chief Fiscal Officer of the Year Award, Dayton Business Journal Chief Fiscal Officer Awardee, and the National Diversity Council Glass Ceiling Award to name a few. Dr. Burnette, a highly sought-after speaker in Central Texas, is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and The Links, Incorporated.
Colette received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from The Ohio State University, and a Master of Science in Administration from Georgia College. She is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management Development Program and received her Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.