Martha Ellis
MS '79 - Human Development
Dr. Ellis was one of many guests who greeted President Daniel at the Hello Austin alumni event, hosted at the Bauer House by University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa.
Dr. Ellis was one of many guests who greeted President Daniel at the "Hello Austin" alumni event, hosted at the Bauer House by University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa.
Before she was The University of Texas System Associate Vice Chancellor for Community College Partnerships, Dr. Martha Ellis spent her days in the petrochemical city of Baytown, Texas. As president of Lee College, Ellis helped transform the community college and its surroundings.

At Lee College, Ellis spearheaded an effort to create a public transportation system for low-income students and a satellite location that provides workforce education, such as cosmetology, pipefitting and welding.

"While I was a student at UT Dallas, I saw that students have to be actively engaged in learning," Ellis said. "Getting students involved early in their academic studies gets them on the right path."

During Ellis' six-year tenure, Lee College was recognized as the sixth fastest growing mid-size community college in the nation and was designated a Hispanic Serving Institution by joining a national initiative to encourage Hispanic enrollment in higher education. Lee College also joined the Clinton Climate Initiative, a program started by former President Bill Clinton to address climate change issues.

Martha Ellis
As the University of Texas System Associate Vice Chancellor for Community College Partnerships, Dr. Ellis works to increase the number of students who transfer to UT institutions from community colleges and to ensure a smooth transition for those students.
Ellis' journey began in Richardson, where she grew up. As a master's student at UT Dallas, she was intrigued with the community college students she met on campus. "Here were people like me, lots of first-generation college students looking to better themselves through a top-notch education at UT Dallas." These days, forty percent of UT Dallas undergraduates are first generation. Ellis said her professors made all the difference. "The faculty were well-recognized; theirs were the names in the textbooks and journal articles we were reading."

After graduating from UT Dallas, Ellis taught at Eastfield College in the Dallas County Community College District. She later was a charter faculty member and provost at Collin County Community College in Plano. In 2008, Ellis joined the UT System, where she coordinates the community college transfer initiatives and promotes collaboration between 50 community college districts and UT institutions.

"UT Dallas has a very strong transfer community because the roots of UT Dallas were in upper-level and graduate education. This UT Dallas tradition, combined with excellence in research and teaching, make for an exceptional university for transfer students," Ellis said. Almost 50 percent of the student population at UT Dallas transferred from other institutions.

In addition to her PhD from the University of North Texas, Ellis has a bachelor's degree from American Christian College. She completed post-graduate work at Columbia University, as well as an internship at the Albert Ellis Institute.



Brent Willen
BA '94 - Government and Politics (now Political Science)
As a recruiter for Amazon.com, Brent Willen looks for top talent. But it's the UT Dallas grad's ThoseinMedia group on LinkedIn.com that lets him mine the fields for that talent and stokes his own passion for social media. With more than 60,000 members, ThoseinMedia is a melting pot of media professionals who dialog on just about everything in their field, including gaming, technology and interactive media.

Brent Willen is a recruiter for Amazon.com and lives in Seattle.
Brent Willen is a recruiter for Amazon.com and lives in Seattle.
"I really see the Internet world as a way to connect and engage people. I wanted to be a part of providing something to that community," said Willen, who specializes in new media and e-commerce.

Since graduating from UT Dallas, Willen's day jobs have taken him to high-profile companies like Microsoft and WhitePages.com. "My education was not focused on recruiting, but the excellent program at UT Dallas prepared me for a world of rigor, a place where if you want to succeed, you have to step-up to the plate," said Willen, who holds a bachelor's degree in government and politics.

Willen's course-load was thick with classes in public policy, foreign policy, law and urban planning. Professors like L. Douglas Kiel and Anthony Champagne—in the School of Economics, Political and Policy Sciences—helped shape his experience. "Both had an incredible influence on me then and even today. They were great leaders and teachers," Willen said.

In fact, Willen had every intention of going to law school and even took the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). But he said that fate stepped in soon after graduation with a recruiting job in Seattle, which Willen described then as a "high-tech Mecca." Bitten by the bug, he started several recruiting companies on his own, and now is working for Amazon.com.

Willen lives with his wife, Anne, in Seattle.
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