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Philip Hoffman and Shata IV Dean Antel



Doty tops with Fire


Harding and McKenny

Homecoming Royals



CMAS Visiting Scholar focus on Chicano music



Do you know this alumna? She’s one of Houston’s top 25


Smeltertown wins award for History prof

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Khator Investiture Highlights

President Renu Khator

Nov. 7 was a great day for the University of Houston, one filled with the right mix of pomp and circumstance as the campus community joined with our local, state, federal, and international friends and partners to witness the Ike-delayed investiture of Renu Khator as the 13th President of the University of Houston and the 8th Chancellor of the University of Houston System.

About 1,500 attendees packed the Cullen Performance Hall and heard Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst endorse UH’s bid to be Texas’ next Tier One university. You can count on Graffit-e to be the place where you can relive that historic day.

UH System Board of Regents Chair Welcome W. Wilson, Sr. served as Master of Ceremonies for the Investiture and introduced the speakers.

Click on the images to watch each speaker's remarks, or you can view the entire Investiture by clicking here.

Mayor Bill White

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst

UH Student Government Assoc. President, Sam Dike

A message from the President

If you’re not on one of the University’s email lists, you may not have received President Khator’s latest update. Fret not, for we have it for you.

Dear Faculty and Staff:

I hope your semester is going well. Many things are happening on campus and while it is difficult to track them all in one place, I thought that an informal update on some of the “big rock” issues may be of relevance. For any specific details and/or any information on other items of individual interest, please feel free to contact the members of my Cabinet, whose collective leadership makes the administration of any “big rock” solutions possible.

Strategic Dialog on UH Goals and Strategies: During its June retreat, the Board of Regents set six goals for UH. I have established a steering committee comprised of faculty, staff, and students to design a process and conduct a campus-wide strategic dialog on the action items that will ensure our progress toward attaining these six goals. I invite you to participate in this dialog to help guide us in three areas: (a) UH fundraising priorities; (b) UH requests for state and federal allocations; and (c) our decisions to make investments from internal reallocations. Information about this process is posted at

Emergency Response: The Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and Student Government Association are jointly setting up a commission to review and recommend actions to make our emergency responses more people-friendly. In addition, an administrative review of procedures that ensures compliance with federal and state rules is also under way by the Cabinet. Together, these efforts will ensure that we prepare and protect our assets—human and physical—during emergencies and continue to fulfill our mission.

UH Budget Planning and the Economy: Interim Provost Strickland and Executive Vice President Carlucci are beginning the budget planning process for 2009-2010, keeping in mind the national financial crisis and the state projections for a slowing economy. EVP Carlucci has set up a budget website where regular updates and information will be posted so you can stay informed and engaged. (  ) Enrollment Management: UH now enrolls 36,104 students, a 4.2% increase over 2007. More importantly, freshmen and transfer applications were up significantly this fall. I am proud of the UH Admissions Office staff who have now proven that they can sufficiently increase the pool of applicants to obtain a “top tier” freshmen class at UH in 4-5 years. As you know, the UH System is committed to providing access to all students but also making sure that UH becomes a first-choice destination for those seeking to go to a top tier national research university. In order to achieve these twin goals, we must develop a system-level Enrollment Management Plan and leverage the strengths and uniqueness of all the universities in the UH family in a strategic manner. I have asked AVP Ed Hugetz to work with university presidents and begin the process of completing such a plan by June. System Level Initiatives: Several UH system initiatives are on the agenda for the upcoming meeting of the Board of Regents in December: downward expansion for UH-Clear Lake, and the possibility of a recommendation to change the name of UH-Downtown. The downward expansion for UH-Victoria was approved by the Board at its October meeting. All Board materials will be posted on the BOR website prior to this and all future meetings for your information.

Searches: According to the Provost’s Office, 82 faculty searches are currently under way in various colleges and departments. In addition, several executive searches are also in various stages of the process:

  • The Provost’s Search Committee is in the process of screening applicants, and it intends to invite candidates for campus interviews during the first week of December. This is the most critical search for us if we are serious about becoming a top-tier university, and I urge you to meet the candidates and share your comments with the committee.
  • Honors College Dean - On-campus interviews of four candidates were conducted November 17-24.
  • College of Pharmacy Dean – The search committee is screening applications.
  • College of Architecture Dean – A search committee is being formed.

Transportation and Parking: Parking continues to be an issue of interest. This month, we are starting construction of the East Parking Garage (click here for a sneak peak). Discussions on Metro lines coming to UH in the near future are also taking place. Dr. Carlucci’s office is now posting updates on these discussions as well as on the overall Transportation Management Plan on the Administrative and Finance website.

SERCC Building: The build-out of SERCC is moving forward under the supervision of Dr. Birx, with progress under way on floors 1, 3, and 5. Parts of floors 1 and 3 should be open by January 31, 2009, with half of floor 5 to follow by the end of March. Build-out will continue, staggering resources to optimize the schedule, until the building is completed. The order for the remaining build-out is, floor 4 and the other half of floor 5, followed by the other half of floor 3 and then floor 2 (some elements of which will likely be built-out earlier). Completion of each step will be in three- to six-month intervals without construction halts until finished in 2010.

Legislative Session: While the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature does not begin until the second Tuesday in January, members have already profiled over 400 pieces of legislation. Typically the UH System will track 500 to 700 bills on such varied topics as calculation of grade point averages, sales tax exemptions for textbooks, purchasing processes, personnel issues, residency, hazing, construction standards, contracting, eminent domain, risk management, governance, animal cruelty, water conservation, and open records. Increasing the number of Tier One universities is the subject of two bills. HB 51 by Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas) creates a matching grant program for emerging institutions. SB 185 by Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) establishes the Commission to Recommend a Long-Range Plan for Higher Education, which is charged with proposing ways to increase the number of Tier One institutions. During the legislative session, the Office of Governmental Relations posts weekly updates on the UH System website. For the full text of bills and complete array of information on the legislature, please go to

A Record-breaking Year in Fundraising: This year, we raised a record $85.4 million from private and foundation sources in support of our academic programs and priorities. This is more than a 40% increase from last year. Thank you for this tremendous performance! It takes a team to accomplish such success.

Making UH a Friendly Place for Those Who Commute: We value our place in the city and our students who commute. We now have a 1600-square-foot Commuter Services lounge in the University Center (UC) featuring comfortable lounge furniture, a large-screen television, microwaves, computer kiosks, and two private study rooms. Commuter Services will offer programming such as Commuter Breakfasts, Evening Student Outreach, a housing and apartment fair, and Lifespan, a networking and social group for nontraditional students offered in partnership with the Women’s Resource Center.

In closing, let me express my sincere gratitude for a fabulous Investiture Ceremony which truly showcased our University at its very best. For those who attended the ceremony, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You heard directly from Lt. Governor Dewhurst, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Gene Green, Mayor Bill White and Judge Ed Emmet how they support our vision to become a nationally competitive research university for the benefit of the city and the state.

Thank you for all that you do to educate our students, expand our knowledge horizons and enhance community life. It has been wonderful to be a member of your team. I look forward to seeing you at various arts and athletics events, and I wish you all a very happy holiday season!!

Warm regards,

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A Message From Dean Antel

Dean Antel

I was shocked, as we all were, when I heard of Leslie Marenchin’s accidental death. He and I had been working on a philosophy-related study abroad program.  His death is a great loss to the philosophy department and to our college.  Our students, particularly, will miss him.  Our thoughts are with his family this holiday season.  You can read more about Leslie in the Faculty section of this newsletter.

We’re halfway through the academic year, and that means we’ll welcome a new group of CLASS alumni at the Fall Commencement, Friday, Dec. 19, at 9 a.m. in Hofheinz Pavilion. The CLASS faculty and staff send congratulations to the new graduates and to their families. We’ll have streaming video of the ceremonies in next month’s Graffit-e.

About 850 undergraduate students applied for graduation. Various academic or financial reasons will prevent about 20 percent of those students from graduating this month, but we’ll work with them to see how we can award their degrees at the earliest possible time.

Most of those graduating received some form of financial assistance during their academic career. That money came from scholarships, grants, or loans. Our nation’s economic situation, particularly the difficulty for students or their parents to obtain school loans, may cause some current or incoming students to delay their education. They don’t want that, and neither do we. But the reality is that we don’t have the scholarships to meet the needs of all of our high-achieving and well-deserving students.

We have a story in the Academics section of this newsletter about Louis Wu, who just established a scholarship in Chinese Studies in honor of his parents. The holidays provide an excellent opportunity for you to make a scholarship gift to the University of Houston in the name of relative or a friend. It’s one of those gifts that literally keeps on giving! Think about it, and if it’s something you’d like to do, please visit our CLASS Giving site.

Meantime, on behalf of all of the students, faculty, and staff of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, I send you best wishes for the holidays and for the new year.

John Antel




Philosophy professor dies in accidental fall

Dr. Leslie Marenchin

A memorial service was held at the A.D. Bruce Religion Center on Dec. 7 for Leslie M. Marenchin, Assistant Professor and Instructor in Philosophy, who died Dec. 1 from a head injury he received after falling down a flight of stairs at his Montrose-area home. He was. 54. The Harris County Medical Examiner ruled the death an accident.

Friends discovered his body that afternoon when they arrived for a reading club meeting held at his residence every Monday.

Friends, colleagues, and students created a self-described irreverent memorial blog (code for not G-rated), which you can read by clicking here.

Econ prof wins two European awards

Sebnem Kalemil-Ozcan

Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Associate Professor of Economics, received two European awards: the 2008 Wim Duisenberg Research Fellow (of the European Central Bank), given to economists in academia, central banks, and top research institutions who are recognized international experts in their field; and the Marie Curie Reintegration Award (of the European Commission), designed to attract top-class researchers who work outside Europe to undertake research in Europe. 

Doty wins, leaves

Doty and Matthiessen

Mark Doty with author Peter Matthiessen, recipient
of the 208 National Book Award for fiction,
at last month’s NBA ceremonies

Mark Doty, John and Rebecca Moores professor of English and Creative Writing, leaves us to join the Rutgers University faculty for the Fall 2009 semester. Until then, he’s still one of ours, and we’re pretty proud of his National Book award for Poetry for his new collection, Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems.

His eight books of poems include School of the Arts, Source, and My Alexandria. He has four published volumes of nonfiction prose: Still Life with  Oysters and Lemon, Heaven's Coast, Firebird and Dog Years, which was a New York Times bestseller last year.

Judges’ citation

Elegant, plain-spoken, and unflinching, Mark Doty's poems in Fire to Fire gently invite us to share their ferocious compassion. With their praise for the world and their fierce accusation, their defiance and applause, they combine grief and glory in a music of crazy excelsis. In this generous retrospective volume a gifted young poet has become a master. 

Congratulations, Mark!!

Mark Doty's 2008 National Book Award Ceremony Acceptance Speech from National Book Foundation on Vimeo.

Hattab on Descartes

Helen Hattab

Helen Hattab, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, is publishing Descartes on Forms and Mechanisms (Cambridge University Press).

Here’s how her editor describes the work:

The modern view of causation can be traced back to the mechanistic science of Descartes, whose rejection of Aristotelian physics, with its concept of substantial forms, in favour of mechanical explanations was a turning-point in the history of philosophy. However the reasoning which led Descartes and other early moderns in this direction is not well understood.  For the first time, this book traces Descartes's groundbreaking theory of scientific explanation back to the mathematical demonstrations of Aristotelian mechanics and interprets these advances in light of the arguments for and against substantial forms which were available. It also examines how Descartes's new theory led him to develop a metaphysical foundation for his science that could avoid skeptical objections. It will appeal to a wide range of readers interested in the philosophy and science of the early modern period.

Sloan’s tome

John Sloan

John Sloan, Professor Emeritus in Political Science, has a new book out, just in time for a new administration. In FDR and Reagan, Transformative Presidents with Clashing Visions (Kansas University Press, 427 pp. $39.95), Sloan finds interesting similarities between the New Dealer and the Great Communicator.

From the Kansas University Press site:

FDR and Reagan is a study of how old regimes unravel, how new ones are constructed, and how the political system is rejuvenated. Adapting noted presidential scholar Stephen Skowronek’s framework, Sloan analyzes how two iconic “reconstructive” presidents redefined the country’s fundamental philosophy, priorities, and policies as he weighs their similarities, differences, and impacts. He compares their lives, core policies, and leadership traits and shows that today’s politics are still heavily influenced by these key presidencies.

From the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication

Zhiwen Xiao, Assistant Professor of Communication, received a UH New Faculty Grant for her proposal, “An Internet-based HIV Prevention and Sex Education Program among Chinese College Students.”

Randy Polk, Instructional Assistant Professor, and Paul Schenider, Lecturer, completed production work for the Texas Medical Center’s new automated pay-on-foot parking pay stations. The new system required pre-recorded voice messaging, which includes instructions on how to pay.  Members of Randy’s Media Performance class auditioned for the voice-over parts, and Rami Ashawa was selected.  Paul produced the auditions and the voice tracks.  

Craig Crowe, Instructional Professor, co-produced and edited a 30-second promotional message for Fort Bend Charities (Miracle on Morton Street) that aired on Houston Comcast Cable channels Lifetime, TNT, CNN, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and The Family Network.

Suzanne Buck (’98 Speech Communication, ’00 MA Speech Communication), Instructional Professor, coordinated a series of workshops and tours for 21 delegates from Ningbo Daily Press Group in China. Workshop instructors included:  Julie Fix (’72 Journalism), Instructional Professor; Michael Berryhill, Assistant Professor of Communication, Angela Hopp (’00 Journalism), Adjunct Professor of Print and Digital Media; John Powell, Interim Director of Communication for CLASS; Jim Bradley, (’84 History), Interim Executive Director for Technology Support Services; and Peter Bishop, Associate Professor of Strategic Foresight and Coordinator of the graduate program in Future Studies in the College of Technology.  In addition, Shawn McCombs (’99 Business, ’03 MEd C&I), Communications Technology Center Manager, Eric Ladau from the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting, and Alex Achivida from The Daily Cougar provided tours. Delegates received a certificate of completion for the “U.S. Media Management Program” from the Valenti School on Nov. 26, 2008. 

Bill Large (’72 Journalism), was recognized by the Business Marketing Association at its annual Lantern Awards for script writing on a video for Waste Management. Bill was also chosen to write the script for the awards program’s opening video that also featured work by Instructional Professor Larry Kelley’s (’73 Finance) agency, Fogerty, Klein, Monroe, and all the top agencies and design firms in Houston.

Find out about other Valenti faculty activity at the school’s Weekly Update site.

Another note about Michael Berryhill. He spent election night at Barack Obama’s Fifth Ward campaign headquarters for a piece he wrote for The Texas Observer, which you can read here.

Magsamen joins Aurora Picture Show

Mary Magsamen

Mary Magsamen, Affiliate Artist in Photography/Digital Media in the School of Art, spouse of and collaborator with Stephen Hillerbrand, Assistant Professor and Area Coordinator in the same department, is the new curator for Houston’s Aurora Picture Show. She’ll be in charge of the microcinema’s art and historical film and video programming.

Stack at Moody

Stack print

Gael Stack, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Art, has another exhibition for her once and future fans to enjoy. This one’s at Moody Gallery in Houston, through Jan. 10, 2009. Since joining the faculty in 1975, Stack has had more than forty-four one-person exhibitions, and has who-knows-how-many group exhibitions. Her work has been written about and collected widely, including a nice piece in the current issue of Modern Luxury.

Find out more faculty news on the CLASS News and Events page.

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Homecoming Queen and King from CLASS

Harding and McKenny

The 2008 Homecoming Queen and King made their grand entrance during halftime of the Cougar football game.

Mallory McKenny, a Senior Political Science and History double major representing UH Ambassadors, is this year’s Queen. Mallory has volunteered with the Houston Hispanic Forum, Ronald McDonald House, Operation School Supplies, and the Metropolitan Volunteer Program’s Revolution of Heroes. She’s been on the Dean’s List for four semesters, and she is a recipient of the William Cunningham Endowment – Hawes Scholarship. As a student leader, she is a member of the Metropolitan Volunteer Program, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Student Government Association, Phi Sigma Theta Honor Society, the National Scholars Honor Society, and UH Ambassadors.

Vince Harding, a Senior Political Science major representing the Campus Crusade for Christ, is this year’s King. Vince exemplifies the qualities of a well-rounded student leader. He is the first in his family to attend college. “The ability to attract individuals across various social, economic, ethnic, religious and life experiences is the thing the University of Houston should be most proud of,” he wrote in his Homecoming application essay. Vince received numerous scholarships and academic awards, including Dean’s List honors. His extracurricular activities include the Metropolitan Volunteer Program, Cougars Serving Others, Dance Marathon, Student Video Network, Our Love Project (founder and president), a resident assistant, and president of the Campus Crusade for Christ UH chapter.

CLASS students on the Court and CLASS Court escorts included: Jasmine Taillon, a Senior Political Science major; Kayley Sanders, a Senior Public Relations major; Alex Obregon, a Senior Psychology major; and Judah Johns, a Senior with a double major in History and Chemistry.

Annual Student Art Exhibition

The 2008 School of Art Annual Student Exhibition runs through Dec. 20 at Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston.

The exhibition features the work of senior BFA students and non-graduating MFA students. This is the first opportunity for many of the artists to exhibit within a museum context. And, it's a great opportunity for visitors to see what tomorrow’s artists are doing today.

Full story, more art, and a link to a local tv news feature in the Around CLASS and Campus section of this newsletter.

Valenti student takes home a Crystal Award

Maria Chiappe, thesis student on a Public Relations track in the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, designed and executed a campaign titled, “Hispanic PR for the Boy Scouts of America,” which won the 2008 American Marketing Association’s Crystal Award in the category of Public Relations, single market. The ceremony was held at the InterContinental Houston Hotel on May 22, 2008, and was attended by more than 500 marketing professionals.

Ace aces scholarship

Stephanie Ace, a Senior Political Science major and a Center for Public Policy government intern working in the office of State Representative Ellen Cohen, is the 2008 recipient of the Beverly Kaufman Scholarship awarded by the Women Professionals in Government.

Assisting exceptional women dedicated to the pursuit of public service careers is the primary objective of the scholarship. The selection criteria includes the student’s professional and scholastic achievements, demonstrated community service, reasons for pursuing a public service career, challenges to future professional and scholastic achievement, and scholarship need. Stephanie will receive a $1,000 scholarship and a complimentary one-year membership in WPG.

I/O grad students getting article published

David Francis, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor, Chair of the Psychology department, and Director of the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, sent us the following good news:

Graduate students publishing a journal article with faculty members is good news, but not headline news. Graduate students publishing a journal article based on their theses and/or dissertations (with faculty member input) is good news, but not headline news. Graduate students publishing a journal article on their own is great news. Please join me in congratulating Industrial Organizational Psychology students Cristina Rubino, Alex Luksyte, Sara Perry, and Sabrina Volpone. The editor of the American Psychological Association journal, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, accepted their manuscript, “How Do Stressors Lead to Burnout? The Mediating Role of Motivation.”

This project started with Sara, who conceived the study on her own and collected the data, and brought on Cristina, Alex, and Sabrina to work on this specific aspect of the project. Cristina worked closely with Alex, Sara, and Sabrina to lead the development of the story and move the process through to publication. The editor was most complimentary of their efforts to address issues raised in the review process.

Creative Writing grad students featured on UH Web site

Brown, Mitra, Otremba and Telford

The Office of Graduate and Professional Studies features four Creative Writing graduate students on its Web site.

Jericho Brown, a Ph.D. student in Literature and Creative Writing (poetry), received the 2006 James A. Michener Fellowship, two travel fellowships to the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, and two Bread Loaf Writers' Conference scholarships. He’s also a poetry editor at Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Art (see Around CLASS and Campus). And, he’s just published his poetry collection, Please ( (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2008). Mark Doty, John and Rebecca Moores professor of English and Creative Writing, and the 2008 recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry (see story in Faculty section), says “Everyone sings in this live-wire, passionate book.”

Keya Mitra (MFA, ’05, Creative Writing) is a full-time Ph.D. student in Literature and Creative Writing (fiction), an accomplished writer, and a Fulbright scholar to India. For four years, she has taught creative writing skills to children in lower-income schools through an organization called Writers in the Schools. Her accomplishments also include working as a fiction editor for Gulf Coast for two years, revising a novel, and completing a collection of short stories.

Paul Otremba, a Ph.D. student in Literature and Creative Writing (poetry), has received awards for his poetry, including an Academy of American Poets prize and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. And, he has a contract for his first book to be published by Four Way Books.

Bradford Gray Telford, a fourth year Ph.D. student in Literature and Creative Writing (poetry), is a former poetry editor at Gulf Coast. One of Brad's poetry manuscripts was named Finalist for both The Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize and Donald Justice Poetry Award, and last year he was a Finalist for the Morton Marr Prize from Southwest Review.

Read more about these exceptional students on the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies Web page.

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AcademicsEstevan Azcona

New UH visiting scholar brings expertise in Chicano protest music

Music and songs from picket lines and protest marches provide rich fodder for music research. Estevan César Azcona, the newest Visiting Scholar for the Center for Mexican American Studies, investigates the motivation, inspiration and relationships reflected in song.

“My research is the music of Chicanos, that is, ethnic Mexicans on this side of the border, predominantly those who were born here,” Azcona says. “I study the juncture of ethnomusicology and Chicano studies.”

The CMAS Visiting Scholars program began in 1986 with goals of generating research about the Mexican American community and attracting scholars interested in tenure-track positions. Visiting Scholars are in residence for one year, researching in the fall semester and teaching in the spring.

“The Visiting Scholars program is doing what we wanted it to do, and that’s increase the pool of Latino scholars and the research they are pursuing,” says Tatcho Mindiola, CMAS director and professor.

Azcona hails from the steel mills of Indiana and the beaches of southern California. His area of study focuses on the music of the Chicano movement during the 1960s and 1970s. He tells the story of musicians from that historical period and how their political struggle and strides were reflected musically through artists such as Armando Hernandez and Miguel Vasquez, both farm workers, and Francisco Gonzalez, who played traditional Mexican music on the harp and was the founder of the band, Los Lobos. Azcona says their stories take on added relevance today.

“Chicano music offers us a glimpse into the futures that America itself is going to encounter, those that delve into the crossing of borders,” he said.

Azcona also compiled, annotated, and produced a compilation cd titled, Rolas de Aztlan: Songs of the Chicano Movement in 2005 that includes many of the artists he studies. In spring 2009, he will teach Music in Mexican America.

The CMAS Visiting Scholars program has recruited experts in history, art, sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science, and English. Its scholars have generated such research as: Latino Violence on the Border: The Case of Houston 1985 -2000; Mexican American Women in Houston: Work, Family and Community 1900- 1940; Brown, Not White: School Integration and Chicano Movement in Houston; and Urban Speak: Poetry of the City. A mural at Austin High School, Bajo del Sol Tejano, was a project conceived and implemented by an artist recruited through the Visiting Scholars program. (Marisa Ramirez ’00 English)

New Chinese Studies scholarship

Chinese Studies logo

You know how we always talk (and write!) about the critical role scholarships play in the educational success of our students? Well, we do, because they do. In fact, we’re putting together some stories to share later from some of our students benefiting from the generosity of our alumni and friends.

Sharon Wen

Sharon Wen

But, for now, we want to pass along some great news we received from Sharon Wen, Director of Chinese Studies in the department of Modern and Classical Languages, which offers the only Chinese Studies major in Texas.

A Donation $10,000 for the Chinese Studies Program, MCL, CLASS!

Louis Wu recently established the Shang-Zhih & Lucia Lee Wu Scholarship in honor of his parents. The scholarship goes to students who excel in Chinese Studies and Summer Study Abroad Programs. Feb. 15, 2009, is the deadline for applying for Summer 2009. Students can download the application form from the Chinese Studies Website and submit the application to MCL office (613 AH).

Impressed by the largest enrollment among Texas education institutions and excellent achievements of students of Chinese, Mr. Louis Wu also passionately offers help in fundraising for Chinese Studies at UH. At present, we focus on four areas:

  1. Scholarships for Summer Study Abroad. The program has served more than 210 students in the past seven successive years. Students can take up to three courses toward the Chinese Studies Major/Minor in five weeks while in Beijing and Shanghai. Intensive courses are offered in a culturally rich language immersion environment. Travel and culture studies are at the beginning of the program and on weekends. The program is academically rigorous and culturally enriching. However, with the current economic crisis, many students may have a difficult time to afford it.

  2. Scholarships for Excellence in Chinese Language and for Excellence in Chinese Studies. The former rewards efforts and competence in the Chinese language, while the latter rewards students who not only excel in interdisciplinary course work, but also demonstrate the application of their Chinese culture understanding through creative field projects. Our students have demonstrated excellence in the Chinese language proficiency in events such as speech contests in the past decade. They have won numerous prestigious prizes, both nationally and internationally. Brian Pawlic won First Place in the prestigious International Chinese Speech Tournament (Shijie Hanyuqiao Bisai) in Beijing in 2005. Kojo Idrissa received the Houston Mayors Office Award from the Houston-Taipei Sister City Scholarship.

  3. Asian Lecture Series. The Chinese Studies Program organizes lecture series for both UH and local communities. We have invited nationally renowned scholars, best-selling authors, Chinese film directors, and Chinese calligraphers and artists.

  4. Teacher Training and Workshops. The Chinese Studies Program has been a major collaborator in increasing the number and expertise of students and teachers of the Chinese language respectively under the Federal Critical Language Initiative. There is a surging demand for teachers of Chinese with the prevailing development of the Chinese language education in the country. We provide professional development for college courses to obtain credentials to teach in K-12 schools. The project, in turn, supports our students and Chinese courses.

Another UH Moment

Marisa Ramirez

Marisa Ramirez

Marisa Ramirez (’00 English) writes and hosts UH Moment, a regular series on KUHF, Houston Public Radio. Our School of Theatre and Dance was a recent subject. Here’s the script and pix taken from the UH Moment Web site.

You can listen to the segment by clicking here.

Water poured into a newly built deck and pool will become the main stage for a performance at the UH School of Theatre and Dance. It is an intricate construction designed to lift the audience into another world. Similarly, the School's new Theatre for Young Audiences lifts new drama fans away from the world of video games and into one of theater.

"I think you can use theater to touch on every subject across the curriculum. It can be a great inspiration to kids not only to get them to read, but to motivate them in other subject areas," said Jackie deMontmollin, associate director of theater education.

The new Theatre for Young Audiences engages children and teens by having them attend a production and then applying the experience to other school subjects. Teacher support materials relate the production to math, English and art lessons, and include information on theater etiquette. deMontmollin says the school is working to collaborate with school districts and other UH colleges. Theatre for Young Audiences' productions will be twice a year, on campus and in the community.

"There is learning for our students at the university level and for students out in the school system," said deMontmollin. "It really creates a bridge between the University of Houston and the greater Houston community."

Theatre for Young Audiences is part of what's happening at the University of Houston. I'm Marisa Ramirez.

Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.

More on the School of Theatre and Dance in the Around CLASS and Campus section of this newsletter.

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Wife of UH alumnus survives Mumbai terror attack

Cedric and Carol Wise

Photo: Julio Cortez, Houston Chronicle

Cedric Wise (’60 Psychology) has a lot to celebrate this holiday season. His wife, Carol, returned safely to Houston last month after escaping unharmed from the deadly terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Carol Wise spent 15 hours with a group that hid out without food or water in the Oberoi Trident Hotel garage while terrorists attacked the hotel and nine other sites, killing at least 172 people and wounding more than 230 others. Cedric and Carol used cell phones to keep in touch during the carnage.

She got out of harm’s way thanks to an Indian family that one of her friends knew. The husband of the family took her out of the garage and to his home.

She was in Mumbai as part of a group from the Synchronicity Foundation, a Virginia community that promotes a form of meditation. Two of her friends on the trip, a man and his 15-year-old daughter, were among the murdered victims, according to a story in the Houston Chronicle, which you can ready by clicking this link.

rolling out logo

rolling out UrbanStyle Weekly describes itself as the new voice of the African-American community, documenting successes within the black community. One of the highlights is its annual Top 25 Women of Houston awards, now in its third year. And CLASS has three alumnae on the list!

Jacqueline Chaumette Jolanda Jones Laura Murillo
Jacqueline Chaumette Jolanda Jones Laura Murillo
(’90 Political Science) (’89 Political Science, ’95 Law) (’89 Journalism, ’98 MEd. Administration and Supervision, ’03 Ed.D. Administration and Supervision)
President, BalyProjets, LLC Houston Councilmember,
At-Large Position 5
President, Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce


Top piccolo player

Karen (Dickson) Eichinger (’05 Music) of Dallas won the National Flute Association’s Piccolo Artist Competition in Kansas City, Mo., this past August.

Moores gives $2 mil to Scripps

John J. MooresJohn J. Moores (’70 Economics, ’75 Law), the guy whose name is on the Rebecca and John J. Moores School of Music, put up a $2.1-million lead gift for The Scripps Research Institute's new $50-million drive to recruit top researchers and to sustain and expand the work of current scientists. Moores, chairman and owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team, is a member of the Scripps Research Board of Trustees and has served as chair of the Board since 2006. He was founder and chairman of the board of Houston’s BMC Software Inc. and founder of the River Blindness Foundation, formerly based at the School of Optometry. Moores served on the UH System Board of Regents from 1991-1994. The Moores have contributed more than $70 million to UH.

In memoriam

Paul Joseph Zimmerman (’91 Psychology, ’93 MSW), Nov. 9, 2008

Read more about CLASS alumni on our Web page. If you would like to share your accomplishments with your CLASS family, please send us an email note.

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Monica Perales, Assistant Professor of History, received the Oral History Association 2008 Article Prize for “Fighting to Stay in Smeltertown: Lead Contamination and Environmental Justice in a Mexican American Community.” The article examines the 1970s lead contamination case that brought about the demise of a Mexican working-class barrio in El Paso, Texas, called Smeltertown.

She’s this month’s featured researcher, and another example of the breadth of research conducted by CLASS faculty.


From the television studios of the Jack J. Valenti School Of Communication at the University of Houston, this is the Discovery section of Graffit-e, the electronic newsletter of the College Of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

My name is John David Powell.

Monica Perales is an Assistant Professor of History and the recipient of the 2008 Article prize from the Oral History Association.

Her work, “Fighting To Stay In Smeltertown: Lead Contamination And Environmental Justice In A Mexican American Community” looks at the 1970s lead contamination case that brought about the demise of a Mexican working-class barrio in El Paso, Texas, known as Smeltertown.

The biennial award recognizes the use of oral history in a published work to make a significant contribution to contemporary scholarship.

Professor Perales received her doctorate from Stanford University in 2004.

CPP logo

Center for Public Policy to create real big real estate database for Houston-area

The Center for Public Policy received a $49,500 grant from the National Science Foundation to study Houston’s regional housing market, particularly significant in the wake of the nation’s crisis among leading financial institutions.

CPP will create the Regional Real Estate Database, a unique and comprehensive real estate database of the Houston region that will help researchers understand the complexities and causes of foreclosure. The information also is intended to be a resource for policymakers.

“The combination of slow housing sales, declining home prices, restrictive mortgage-lending criteria and a slowing economy has placed the nation in the throes of a major housing market correction,” says CPP director Jim Granato. “In early September, the crisis deepened with the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

The project, a partnership with the Institute for Regional Forecasting, will develop in stages beginning with the creation of that comprehensive real estate database, which will contain information on single-family home sales from January 2000 through the first quarter of 2008, residential rents from January 2000 to December 2007, single-family home listings as of June 2008, and a listing of residential foreclosures for the Houston metropolitan area from January 2000 through the first quarter of 2008. The completed database also will have information from county appraisal districts and county clerks’ offices, and aerial imagery of the Houston-Galveston area.

“The broader impact of this research is that the databases will become the basis for a multitude of other studies to aid the public and policymakers on initiatives to cushion the markets from the current correction,” IRF director Barton Smith says. “They’ll be able to reformulate policy to prevent similar situations from happening again.” Evert Crawford, director of information technology at IRF, will lead the data collection.

Smith adds that students and the public also will benefit from the database as an educational tool and resource. The completed database will be available on the CPP and IRF Web sites. (Marisa Ramirez ’00 English)

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Around CLASS and Campus

Gulf Coast MagazineGulf Coast Magazine announces contests, launches redesigned Web site

Gulf Coast Magazine, published by the Department of English, redesigned its Web site. Why don’t you check it out? Meantime, see info below for its current literary contests, including the first Donald Barthelme Prize for Short Prose.

The late Donald Barthelme was a master wordsmith and a UH professor who devoted his life to teaching the craft of writing. Long-time readers of The New Yorker magazine remember his writings from the 1960s through the 1980s. He joined our Creative Writing faculty in 1979, and later became the program’s director, a post he held until his death in 1989.

Barthelme’s best known collections of short stories include Come Back, Dr. Caligari and 60 Stories, which was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction.

If you’re interested and have questions not answered by the info below, go ahead and contact the folks at Gulf Coast at 713-743-3223, or

Announcing the First Donald Barthelme Prize for Short Prose:

Donald Bartheleme

Named in honor of Gulf Coast's founder, the Donald Barthelme Prize will award $500 and publication in the upcoming issue of Gulf Coast for one prose poem or piece of flash fiction.

The 2008 prize-winning entry will be selected by Beckian Fritz Goldberg.

Guidelines: Submit up to 3 previously unpublished prose poems or short stories, each no more than 500 words in length. Your name and address should appear on the cover letter only. All entries will be eligible for publication, though only one will receive our $500 prize. Include an SASE for results. Manuscripts will not be returned.

Your $15 reading fee, payable to "Gulf Coast," will include a one-year subscription.

Postmark deadline: December 20, 2008.

Gulf Coast logo

Send Entries to:
Barthelme Prize
Gulf Coast Journal
Department of English
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204-3013

Announcing the 2009 Gulf Coast Prizes in Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction:

The 2009 Gulf Coast Contests, awarding publication and $1,000 each in Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction, will open December 22.

This year's contests will be judged by:

Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Brigit Pegeen Kelly (Poetry), the 2008 recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, and Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign;

Antonya Nelson

Creative Writing faculty member Antonya Nelson (Fiction), named by The New Yorker as one of the “twenty young fiction writers for the new millennium”; and

Dinty W. Moore

Dinty W. Moore (Non-fiction), creative writing instructor at Ohio University and winner of the 2008 Grub Street National Book Prize in Non-Fiction.


Submit one previously unpublished story or essay (25 double-spaced pages max) or up to five previously unpublished poems (10 pages max). Indicate your genre on the outer envelope. Your name and address should appear on the cover letter only. Include a SASE for results. Manuscripts will not be returned.

Your $20 reading fee, payable to "Gulf Coast," will include a one-year subscription.

Postmark deadline: March 31, 2009.

Send Entries to:

Gulf Coast Prize in [Genre]
Department of English
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204-3013

Blaffer logo

Annual Student Art Exhibition

The 2008 School of Art Annual Student Exhibition runs through Dec. 20 at Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston.

The exhibition features the work of senior BFA students and non-graduating MFA students. This is the first opportunity for many of the artists to exhibit within a museum context. And, it's a great opportunity for visitors to see what tomorrow’s artists are doing today.

The exhibition is made possible in part by the University of Houston's Student Fees Advisory Committee.

Joy Moores: Earthlings (Spring Thaw)

Joy Moore
Earthlings (Spring Thaw)

Robert Lehmer: Sweet Liberation

Robyn Lehmer
Sweet Liberation

Shane Maberry: The New Gold Standard

Shane Maberry
The New Gold Standard (4.25% ARM)

Terry Hurley: Four Variartions of Perceving a Cube

Terry Hurley
Four Variations of Perceiving a Cube

Debra Barrera: Adventavit asinus

Debra Barrera
Adventavit asinus, pulcher et fortissimus

Can’t make it to the exhibition? Then take a gander at this feature produced by KTRK, Channel 13, in Houston, by clicking here.

But wait, there’s more!

The School of Art Masters Thesis Exhibition runs from April 11 - April 25, 2009, with the Opening Reception on Friday, April 10, 6-8 p.m. at Blaffer Gallery.

This exhibition marks the crowning achievement of a new generation of emerging artists graduating from the University of Houston. Following three years of research and development, this exhibition offers many students the first opportunity to show their work in a museum context and challenge the public with new, fresh ideas. A catalogue, including selected reproductions of each artist’s work, will accompany the exhibition.

Blaffer by the numbers:

9,362 Vistors who attended a Blaffer exhibition during 2007-08
2,541 Average student attendance for a Blaffer Gallery exhibition
1,488 Vistors who attended Andy Warhol exhibition (Sept/Oct. 2008)
2,914 Vistors who attended Damaged Romanticism exhibition (Sept./Nov. 2008)

Have you visited Blaffer lately?

Logo for DiverseWorks

The exhibition: Thrive (DiverseWorks, Houston) runs November 14 - December 20.


Time plays through the work of fifteen notable Houston female artists in Thrive. Among the artists: Elia Arce ('08 MFA Studio Art); Laura Bennett ('07 MFA Photography/Digital Media); Ellen Berman ('76 MFA English); Suzanne Bloom, Professor of Art; Rachel Hecker, Associate Professor of Art; Charles Mary Kubricht ('83 MFA Art); Debra Rueb ('89 MFA Photography); and Kelli Vance ('08 MFA Painting).

The exhibition is a co-presentation of DiverseWorks and the UH Women’s Studies program in conjunction with last month’s UH conference Gender, Creativity, and the New Longevity (read about it in the blog by Women’s Studies director Elizabeth Gregory.

DiverseWorks is located at 117 E. Freewy in Houston. Formore information, call 713-223-8346.


Theatre and Dance Logo

Dance faculty and alumni showcased by Houston group

Seven was indeed a lucky number for Houston dance fans. Thanks to Karen Stokes, director of the University of Houston’s Center for Choreography and head of the UH Dance Division, audiences saw seven vibrant new works in the new production Portables.

This concert was performed by Houston’s Travesty Dance Group at the Hobby Center Dec. 11 - 13 with choreography by Stokes and music by Mozart; contemporary composer Bill Ryan; and Rob Smith, director of UH’s Aura Contemporary Ensemble.

Portables offered pieces that ranged from the mysterious to the humorous. Works performed in this concert included “Orange,” “Program,” “Transparent,” “Raw Silk,” “Interlude 1,” “Sorbet” and “Balance.” (Mike Emery)

And, here’s a nice blog preview.

School of Theatre and Dance on YouTube

Metamorphoses Screen shot

Didn’t get to see Metamorphoses, which closed Nov. 23, or some of the other productions of the School of Theatre and Dance? Mary Zimmerman’s stunning Tony Award-winning adaptation of some of Roman poet Ovid's humorous, heartbreaking myths, directed by Jack Young, is set in and around a large pool. An ensemble cast depicts the transformations that define the human experience. Created at Northwestern University, Metamorphoses was produced at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, the Seattle Repertory Theatre, and the Berkeley Stage Company before moving to Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre in 2002. That year, Zimmerman earned the Tony Award for Best Direction for this play.

You can watch a clip of the production, and of other Theatre and Dance productions at the School’s nifty YouTube site. Just click the screen above, sit back, and enjoy! (Video will open in a new tab.)

By the way, did you know more than 6,350 people attended our Theatre and Dance performances this semester? Have you attended one lately?

Coming productions

Still ahead for the rest of the 2008-2009 season are local debuts and world premieres of works by rising playwrights and esteemed masters of the craft.

For additional details, call 713-743-2929 or visit the School’s box office.

Edward Albee

Edward Albee

At Home Ath The Zoo program cover
  • Feb. 13 - 22, 2009
    At Home at the Zoo (formerly titled Peter and Jerry) by Edward Albee;
    Directed by Sidney Berger,
    Houston Premiere

Fifty years ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and former UH professor Albee dazzled audiences with the provocative A Zoo Story, which detailed a Central Park meeting between Peter, a publishing executive, and Jerry, a disturbed young man. In 2008, Albee added a first act, Homelife, which details Peter’s marriage and the events leading up to his meeting with Jerry. Paired as Peter and Jerry, the combined works, now titled At Home at the Zoo, will have its local debut after its New York debut.

Charles L. Mee

Charles L. Mee

Bobrauschenbergamerica program cover
  • Feb. 20 - March 1, 2009
    “bobrauschenbergamerica” by Charles L. Mee; Directed by Kim Weild
    Houston Premiere

The artwork of Robert Rauschenberg has long intrigued and challenged art aficionados. This imaginative production explores the American landscape through a creative lens that is inspired by the recently departed artist. Not unlike his unique “combine” paintings, the play melds a host of diverse characters, settings, music, dancing, and stories.

Amy Lanasa and Mark Medoff

Amy Lanasa and Mark Medoff

Buy on Get Five Free program cover
  • April 3 - April 19, 2009
    Buy 1 Get 5 Free by Amy Lanasa; Guest Director,
    Houston Premiere

What do you do when your sister is a convict, your momma can't kick her bingo habit, and your husband is still missing from your honeymoon skydiving trip two years ago? Lock yourself in your trailer, of course. This comedy farce, by up-and-coming playwright Lanasa, won the Best Short Play Award at the 2001 Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival.

The creative energies of up-and-coming choreographers are showcased in this annual concert that has become a favorite among dance enthusiasts.

  • April 24 - 26, 2009
    Spring Dance Concert

Dance aficionados look forward to this annual show featuring contemporary works by faculty and guest artists that is set on the pre-professional dance company, the UH Dance Ensemble.

  • April 30 - May 3, 2009
    New Play Festival

The New Play Festival offers Houstonians a chance to enjoy the city’s freshest theater. Tomorrow’s star scribes develop scripts under the supervision of Tony winner and UH professor Mark Medoff and present them during intimate readings.


For more information about what’s going on at CLASS, please visit our Web site.


CLASS: the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences | 402 Agnes Arnold Hall | (713)743-4002 | (713)743-2990 fax

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