Gary M. Lavergne was born in the small Southwestern Louisiana Cajun community of Church Point. He was the son of a policeman and a cafeteria worker. In all of his messages and presentations, Gary draws from his unique, rich Cajun background.
Gary earned a B.A. in Social Studies Education (1976) and a M.Ed. (1981) in Secondary School Teaching from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In 1988, he earned an Education Specialist degree (Ed.S.) in Educational Administration and Supervision from McNeese University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
After several years of teaching Social Studies at Rayne High School in Louisiana, Gary became the first Director of the Southwest District Professional Development Center (PDC) in 1984. In 1988 he was appointed the first Director of the Region IV Education Service Center of the Louisiana Department of Education. In 1989, he accepted a position with the American College Testing Program (ACT), and in 1997 he went on to become the Director of Admissions and Guidance Services for the Southwestern Regional Office of The College Board. He served in that position until August 31, 2000.
Today, Gary is the retired Director of Admissions Research and Policy Analysis at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of numerous Admissions Research reports for the University of Texas. In March of 2001 he gained international attention with his New York Times Op-Ed entitled "Is This the End of the SAT?" He also wrote the Chronicle of Higher Education Op-Ed on the Virginia Tech Tragedy of April, 2007 and the CNN commentary on the Las Vegas Mass Shooting of October, 2017.
In April of 2001, he was selected Outstanding Alumnus of the Class of 1976 by the College of Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and was honored at their annual Awards Night Banquet.
In April of 2008 the French-American Foundation selected Gary to present his research on college admissions percentage plans and affirmative action to scholars and policymakers in Paris at the Ministry of Higher Education, the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris, and Lycée Henri IV.
On May 7, 2009 University of Texas President William Powers presented certificates and bonuses to thirty university employees during The President's Staff Awards reception in the Texas Union Ballroom. Gary was one of those honored. The Outstanding Staff and Supervisor Awards Program recognizes non-teaching UT Austin employees who have made outstanding contributions to the continuing success of the university. (Click here for a video tribute prepared by the University's Human Resources staff.)
Gary has been published in regional, national, and international scholarly journals. His award-winning book, A Sniper in the Tower: The Charles Whitman Murders, has received rave reviews from best selling authors and many of the nation's largest and most respected dailies and trade magazines. On August 1, 2006, the Austin American Statesman called Sniper the definitive account of the Texas Tower Tragedy.
Gary's second book, The Bad Boy from Rosebud was released in July of 1999. Dan
Rather of CBS News called it "classic crime reporting." The paperback version of Bad Boy from Rosebud was released by St Martin's Press in November 2001. It is still available and is entitled Bad Boy.
His third book is entitled Worse Than Death, and is the story of the largest mass murder in the history of Dallas, Texas.
Gary was also a featured author for Southern Scribe and the 1997,
1999, 2003, and 2010Texas Book Festivals. He was also chosen to moderate sessions for the 2004and 2009 festivals.
Gary's fourth book is entitled Before Brown and is the winner of the 2011 Writers' League of Texas Book Award for Non Fiction, the 2010 Coral Horton Tullis Prize, awarded by the Texas State Historical Association, for best book of Texas history. Gary also won the 2010 Carr P. Collins Award for best work of non-fiction by the Texas Institute of Letters. Before Brown is an account of the events surrounding the dramatic 1950 civil rights case Sweatt v Painter. Pamela Colloff of Texas Monthly said that the manuscript was “Vivid, absorbing, and gracefully written... Gary Lavergne’s gifts as a storyteller bring Sweatt’s journey, and the context of his struggle, alive. With a novelist’s eye for character and detail, Lavergne gives us an intimate portrait of Sweatt... Before Brown is both a monumental work and a great read. Sweatt’s story is one that every American should know."
Gary Lavergne is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and has appeared on DATELINE NBC, the Today Show, the History Channel, Biography, American Justice, and The Discovery Channel. (Go to the Media page to see clips of a number of his appearances.)