Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President and CEO
“Education is the great equalizer and not an option.”
~ Dr. Burnette
Ranking as the first female president and CEO of the historic Huston-Tillotson University, Austin’s oldest institution of higher learning and only historically black college and university (HBCU), Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has proven to be a successful educational leader. This year alone, Dr. Burnette has been named an Innovator by the New Leaders Council – Austin Chapter, an Austin Fab Five by the Seedling Foundation, and a Top 25 Woman in the nation in Higher Education by a leading higher education magazine, DIVERSE.
Although a humble woman of grace, Dr. Burnette is fierce with her mission to elevate this generation of students that she affectionately calls “the genius generation.” At Huston-Tillotson, she created a set of principles called IDEAL (Integrity, Diversity, Excellence, Accountability, Leadership) to guide all things and people of Huston-Tillotson, from operation to students to faculty and staff. Partnerships are being created such as Texas Wildlife and Parks and Merck and Company and first-time internships for students such as PayPal and local software company Planview.
Before becoming a university president, Dr. Burnette was a successful engineer with widely-known organizations. From being a computer analyst for The Washington Post to an operations support engineer for Proctor and Gamble, from Director of Information Systems at Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation to Manager of Consulting and Project Management Services at the Washington State Department of Transportation, and ultimately, running her own computer consulting firm, it is no surprise that her alma mater, the Ohio State University named her Outstanding Engineering Alumnus.
Additional honors that recognize Dr. Burnette for her years of dedicated service include: United States Army Distinguished Civilian Volunteer Service Medal Award, Thurgood Marshall Foundation Chief Information Officer of the Year Award, Outstanding Student Advocate Award, Inductee into the Austin Women’s Hall of Fame, Dayton Business Journal Chief Fiscal Officer of the Year Award, and the National Diversity Council Glass Ceiling Award, just to name only a few
Dr. Burnette’s participation and influence are much sought after by many local boards, including the Mayor of Austin’s taskforce on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce. Nationally, she serves on The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering Advisory Committee, and the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church Board.
Dr. Burnette is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Austin Chapter of The Links, Inc., the National Society of Black Engineers, and Texnikoi Engineering Honorary Society. In addition to sharing her rewarding life with her Huston-Tillotson family, she is the wife of Dr. Daarel Burnette (a proficient administrator and consultant in higher education finance and fiscal leadership and retired Lieutenant Colonel), and the mother of two children, Daarel II (a journalist in Memphis, Tennessee), and Daana (a public relations professional in NYC).