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2023 Distinguished Baylor Black Alumni Award Winners
Honoring Baylor Black Alumni who, through service, have earned the respect and approval of peers and colleagues in their communities, professions, and vocations.
(L to R:) Dr. Michael McFrazier (BME '91, MM '93, MSEd '95), Dr. Renita Miller (BBA '00), and Dr. Michael McFrazier (BME '91, MM '93, MSEd '95) received the Rev. Robert Gilbert Distinguished Awards at the Baylor Black Alumni Alliance Awards Ceremony on Friday, September 24, 2023.
Mr. Michael P. Heiskell was one of the three founding partners of Johnson, Vaughn & Heiskell in 1984. He now serves as the senior attorney. Prior to founding Johnson, Vaughn & Heiskell, he served as Assistant District Attorney for Galveston County from 1975 to 1980 and as Assistant United States Attorney from 1980 to 1984.
Mr. Heiskell earned a BA in political science in 1972 from Baylor University and a JD in 1974 from Baylor University School of Law. At Baylor, he was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa (national leadership honor society for juniors/seniors), Pi Sigma Alpha (national political science honor society), Agiza Funika (black social service club), Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Society, and the Student Bar Association.
Mr. Heiskell was named “Lawyer of the Year” by the Tarrant County Black Bar Association in 1995 and 2000 and received the “Presidential Award of Excellence” from the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association in 1994, 1995, and 2003. In 2015 he was inducted into the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association Hall of Fame, and in 2020 he received The Blackstone Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a member of the Tarrant County Bar Association. Mr. Heiskell has been selected as “2022 Baylor Lawyer of the Year” by Baylor Law School.
Mr. Heiskell is a member of several professional law organizations, including the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, for which he began serving as president in August 2023. He also was formerly chairperson of the U.S. Court Advisory Committee for the Northern District of Texas.
Mr. Heiskell and his wife, Anita C. Heiskell, are members of Morningside United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, and they have four children: Marin, James, Michael, Jr., and Mason.
Dr. Michael L. McFrazier, a native of Paris, Texas, is Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU).
Dr. McFrazier joined the faculty at PVAMU in 1998 after beginning his professional career as a public school music teacher and administrator in the Waco Independent School District, Waco, Texas. During his twenty-seven year tenure in higher education, he has served as Coordinator of Minority Development Programs, Coordinator of Graduate Studies, Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Dean of the PVAMU Northwest Houston Campus, chair of the PVAMU Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Reaffirmation of Accreditation decennial review, Vice President of Administration and Chief of Staff, Dean of the Withlowe R. Green College of Education and Interim President at Praire View A&M University. Dr. McFrazier also provided leadership in establishing the Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership in the Whitlowe R. Green College of Education at PVAMU where he holds the rank of tenured Professor.
Dr. McFrazier has traveled extensively throughout the United States as well as abroad. He has been afforded the opportunity to present his research and display his artistic and creative abilities in places such as New York, Chicago, California, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Hawaii. He has also presented in Africa, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Japan, Yugoslavia, Hong Kong, and the Peoples Republic of China.
In February 2014, he co-edited and published a book titled College Student Self-Efficacy Research Studies with Dr. Terence Hicks, former Dean Whitlowe R. Green College of Education. Dr. McFrazier has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the Research Association for Minority Professors, has served as a proposal reviewer for the National Science Foundation and has served as an off-site, on-site and special committee accreditation chair for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Dr. McFrazier received an Associate of Arts Degree from Paris Junior College. He earned the Bachelor of Music Education, Master of Music–Vocal Performance, and Master of Science in Education from Baylor University. He received his Doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Additionally, he holds the M.D.P. Leadership Development Certificate from Harvard University Institute of Higher Education, the William R. Harvey Leadership Certificate from Hampton University and the Governor’s Executive Leadership Development Certificate from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. McFrazier’s honors include Who’s Who in Black Houston; W.T. Bono Professional Award; The Central Texas Role Model Award; University of Arkansas Undergraduate Excellence Mentor Award; University of Arkansas Inspirational Award for Excellence in Service; the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Seven Jewels Service Award; the Paris Junior College Hall of Honor Award; and the Paris Junior College Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor the College bestows.
Dr. McFrazier serves on the board of directors of the Alpha Impact Charitable Foundation and is a member of the advisory board of the University of Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color. Additionally, he is a member of Leadership Northwest Houston; Golden Key Honor Society; Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society; and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Life Member #12605). He has served for 20 years in the Music Ministry at The Church Without Walls.
Renita Miller is the inaugural Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for the Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Wharton, Renita served as Associate Dean for Access, Diversity and Inclusion and Executive Director of the Princeton Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Initiative in the Graduate School and Lecturer in the Politics Department at Princeton University. Under her leadership, The Graduate School at Princeton achieved historic gains in the admission of underrepresented students. Renita was the Dean of Berkeley College and Lecturer in the Political Science Department at Yale University. She has also served as the Director of Studies at Forbes College and the Director of the Princeton Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (PSURE) at Princeton University. Her teaching and research focus on understanding the influence of race and representation with a particular focus on political rhetoric, deliberation, education policy, and leadership within political institutions. Renita was also a research fellow for the Project of Equity, Representation, and Governance at Texas A&M and the Kinder Institute of Urban Research at Rice University. Prior to her work in academia Renita worked as an education policy consultant and pharmaceutical sales representative and trainer. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Baylor University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Rice University.
Professionally and personally, Renita extends her servant leadership philosophy into collaborations with a diverse array of nonprofits, community organizations, and financial institutions, all devoted to addressing critical societal challenges. Notably, she has forged impactful partnerships with educational nonprofits that center on providing access to education for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students. Renita's collaborative efforts extend to engaging with local medical professionals, minority-owned businesses, nonprofit organizations, and financial institutions, all aimed at actively supporting and empowering underrepresented communities.
Renita's work encompasses a range of groundbreaking initiatives that prioritize health and wellness, financial literacy, and alleviating food insecurity within black and brown communities. Her partnerships extend to impactful corporate entities and nonprofits such as Philabundance, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, JP Morgan Chase, and Vanguard Management Company. She is dedicated to fostering change at the grassroots level and committed to enhancing lives and creating a lasting, positive societal impact.