13:34 PM

UST’s Secret Weapon, Dr. Cesare Wright, Helps UST Lead the Revolution in Virtual Literacy


UST has established itself as a dynamic and forward-looking leader in the space of emergent technology.

Dr. Casare WrightDr. Cesare Wright, a digital wizard with a passion for virtual literacy, has joined the University of St. Thomas as its director of Digital Media Initiatives and assistant professor of Communication. Wright brings a wealth of experience in industry and academe and was a professor at Rice University most recently.

“With Wright’s guidance, University of St. Thomas will be one of the first universities in the nation to lead the revolution in virtual literacy,” UST President Richard Ludwick said.

Third Digital Divide – Virtual Literacy

Wright believes the nation is facing the Third Digital Divide – virtual literacy.

  • “The First Digital Divide was access (or lack thereof) to computer technology,” Wright said. “Incredible opportunities opened up for people who had access to personal computers, while many others were left at a massive disadvantage.
  • “The Second Digital Divide relates to a disparity in technical skills and proficiency. As with any technology, access alone is not sufficient – we must also know how to effectively use any tool,” Wright said.
  • “With the exponential rise in virtual engagement (remote work, online learning, etc.) during the COVID 19 pandemic, we face a new virtual literacy divide,” he said. “Whether you are a student, CEO, doctor, teacher, or marine biologist, those who adapt quickly and learn to navigate the emerging paradigm of “virtuality” will thrive, while many others will struggle in the highly competitive and uncertain post-COVID economy.

Wright Brings Corporate Connections, Establishes New Partnerships for UST

As the director of Digital Media Initiatives, Wright will cultivate and maintain industry and community partnerships, and lead initiatives that connect students to career opportunities and professionally enhancing experiences – for example, internships, mentorship programs, project-based learning, university clubs/teams, and a variety of special events and engagements.

“Cesare’s deep connections to digital companies such as Microsoft (where he led outreach initiatives) will help our students to gain internships and valuable learning opportunities within and beyond the borders of UST,” Dr. James Monaghan, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and director of Online Education, said.

Wright’s Partnership with Microsoft, Pilots Programs

Wright currently brings his partnership with Microsoft and his programs to Houston and UST. Two programs are Microsoft FAST (Future Accelerated Skills Training) and Microsoft VIP (Virtual Innovation Professionals).

As a pilot collaboration, Wright partnered with UST to launch the first college-level course in virtual literacy, and it was offered 100% free to students as a new winter intersession class. He took this UST course information and offered workshops for K12 students and adult workforce skilling, in partnership with the City of Houston, to offer a certificate in Virtual Literacy endorsed by UST and Microsoft.  Kino-Eye Center leads the Microsoft VIP and FAST programs, which are part of the nationwide Microsoft Accelerate initiative.  

Partnership Positions Houston as Global Leader in the Race to Virtual Literary

This collaboration between UST, Microsoft, and the Kino-Eye Center positions Houston as a global leader in the race to virtual literacy – a challenge to empower every member of our society, particularly the most vulnerable, to adapt to the demands of an increasingly online ecosystem of education, work, and socialization.

UST is First University to Lead Revolution in Virtual Literacy

With the launch of the first Microsoft-sponsored program in virtual literacy and the exciting new undergraduate minor in esports, UST has established itself as a dynamic and forward-looking leader in the space of emergent technology.

“Dr. Wright’s contributions to the Communication Department will open up new and diverse avenues for learning and experience across campus. UST has long excelled at breaking down divides and I am glad to see us taking on the digital divide,” Dr. Hans Stockton, dean, Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences & Global Studies.

In his short tenure, Wright is impressed by UST's culture of innovation and its student engagement focus. The small size of the University eliminates much of the bureaucracy that stifles innovation at larger institutions,” Wright said, “while also fostering an unparalleled culture of interdisciplinary collaboration. In the short time, I’ve been at UST, I’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, support, and responsiveness of the administration, faculty and staff – an aspect of the university culture that translates to a truly exceptional student-based environment. “

As Professor, Wright’s Overarching Focus on Intersection of Technology & Culture

In his faculty role, Wright will work across departments to enable students to understand and apply digital technologies in expressing their ideas and in promoting them to colleagues, professors and employers.

“As a faculty member in the Communication Department, Wright will create and teach courses and programs in a variety of areas, with an overarching focus on the intersection of technology and culture – for instance, digital media production and theory, emergent technology, virtual literacy, visual anthropology, design thinking, communications, leadership/teamwork/entrepreneurship, etc.,” Monaghan said.

Wright has big plans for his role as a professor of Communication. His overarching plan is to help students use technology to apply for jobs or hold tech-enabled positions.

“We owe it to our students to provide a foundational understanding of the key emergent technologies that help them to become competitive upon graduation, particularly artificial intelligence, augmented/virtual reality, esports, virtual literacy, cloud-based computing and data science,” he said.

To learn more, contact Dr. Cesare Wright at wrightca@stthom.edu.