Colette Pierce Burnette


President and Chief Executive Officer, Huston-Tillotson University

Watch the Recap: The Illusion of Color Blindness

Ranking as the first female President and Chief Executive Officer (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.  Last year, Dr. Burnette was named an Austin Fab Five by the Seedling Foundation, a Top 25 Woman in the nation in Higher Education by a leading higher education magazine, DIVERSE, and received the Community Hero award from the Anti-Defamation League.

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 adopted a set of core values - IDEAL (Integrity, Diversity, Excellence, Accountability, and Leadership) to guide all things and people of Huston-Tillotson, from operation to students to faculty and staff.

At Huston-Tillotson, she inspires over 1,100 students and over 100 faculty and staff members. Partnerships exist with leading organizations such as are being created such as Texas Wildlife & Parks, HomeAway, and Merck & Company and first-time internships with diverse entities 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.

More honors reward Dr. Burnette for her years of dedicated service: 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, to name only a few.

Dr. Burnette is very active and engaged in the Austin community. She served as the co-chair of Mayor Adler’s taskforce on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities, as a board member of Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Leadership Austin, Greater Austin Black and Austin Area Chamber of Commerces, and most recently, Earth Day Austin. Nationally, she serves on the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church Board.

Dr. Burnette is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Austin (TX) 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 Daarel (Retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel) and the mother of Daarel II of Washington, D.C. and Daana of New York, NY.