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Lance Funston



Hart: History Interim Chair



vinius, vidimus, vicimus


Student at computer

AAP, CMAS succeed at Austin High



Do you know this alumna?
She’s one of two Houston MasterMinds



Baumle and the demography of sexual orientation

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Funston honored at Valenti School scholarship luncheon

It was just last year at this time that we gave the communication school a new name: the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, in honor of the former presidential advisor, longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America, and UH alumnus. And, last month, we announced a $1.5-million matching contribution to the School from Lance Funston (’67 Political Science), a longtime friend of Valenti and of UH System Board of Regents Chair Welcome Wilson, Sr. (’49), who has been the driving force behind the fundraising for the Valenti School.

Earlier this month, the Valenti School held its annual scholarship luncheon, which allowed us the opportunity to pay special tribute to Funston and to Ted Dinerstein and Welcome Wilson, Jr. (’74) for their work on behalf of our fundraising efforts for the School.

Click on the screen to see a special “Thank You” video produced by Michael Phan (’06 Media Production) and the Valenti School.

Back in February, Houston’s River Oaks Country Club was the site for a reception in Funston’s honor.

Sam Douglass and Lance Funston   Lance Fuston, Skip Valet, Larry Blackenby                                                    

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Dean's Message

Regular readers of this newsletter will notice a departure from the usual Dean’s Message.

Starting this month, we’ll use this opportunity to introduce to you more of our outstanding faculty and programs.

Joe Pratt, Interim Dean talks with Steve Wallace, Director of the School of Theatre and Dance, and with Miranda Herbert, a graduate student in Theatre and Dance.

Our focus today is the DeLuxe Theatre Project, in partnership with The Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation in northeast Houston and the Houston Public Library.

deluxe theatre

Deluxe Theatre
Courtesy of the Menil Archives

A Unique Educational, Performance, and Community Partnership

VISION: Through a partnership of the School of Theatre and Dance, the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, and the Houston Public Library a new prototype for an Educational, Performance and Community program in the Fifth Ward has been developed. Combining the expertise of these three institutions will provide graduate, undergraduate and community educational opportunities focused on performance, arts management, literacy skills and research.

Involvement in a highly visible Educational, Performance and Community Partnership
Availability of a state of the art graduate, undergraduate and community teaching facility
Opportunity for powerful new community collaborations providing direct access to major Houston institutions as well as grass roots level citizen participation by a broad sector of the Houston community
Participation in a vital comprehensive community revitalization initiative
New access to philanthropic opportunities


  • Graduate teaching through MFA Acting, Directing and possibly Dance programs

  • BA programs integrating professional performing artists from the Alley and Stages theaters as well as other small theater companies from throughout the Houston Area

  • Community educational initiatives involving Fifth Ward elementary, middle and high schools

  • Theater productions by students, partnering theater organizations as well as special presented performances

FACILITY DETAIL: The facility will be located at the site of the historic DeLuxe Theater which has already been acquired by Fifth Ward CRC. Elements of the historic façade of the theater will be used to integrate the design of the new building appropriately into the community.  Approximately 20,000 sq. ft. of new construction is anticipated to meet the needs of the combined program and the facility will be fully equipped to serve related teaching, educational and performance initiatives. The architect selection process is currently underway.

FUNDING:  The City of Houston will provide funding to build the DeLuxe Facility through currently available HUD funding. U of H and Houston Public Library will be responsible for ongoing programming expenses. Based upon the success of this programming initiative, private sector philanthropy from local and national foundations will be sought and an anticipated second phase of development could allow for the creation of additional space in the near future.

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Hart wins Harvey Johnson

John Hart


John Mason Hart, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of History, is the Interim Chair of the History department. He succeeds Bob Buzzanco. Also last month came news that Hart received the Harvey Johnson Prize for the best book of 2008 from the Southwestern Council of Latin American Studies of the Latin American Studies Association. The Silver of the Sierra Madre was published in September by the University of Arizona Press. The award presentation took place following the speech of the Dominican Ambassador to the Organization of American States at the SCOLAS convention banquet in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.

Ramos takes Ferenbach

Raul Ramos


Raul Ramos, Associate Professor of History, won the T. R. Ferenbach award for his recent publication Beyond the Alamo:  Forging Mexican Ethnicity in San Antonio, 1821-1861. He received the award at the Annual Historic Preservation Conference awards luncheon on April 16.  Ferenbach wrote about Texas history and was chair of the Texas Historical Commission. The award recognizes books based on original research that preserve, record, and recount the prehistory or history of Texas. 

Verheyen awarded for lifetime service

Claremarie Verheyen


Claremarie Verheyen, Associate Professor of Costume Design in the School of Theatre and Dance, received the Forrest A. Newlin Founders Award from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology-Southwest Regional Section in recognition of outstanding lifetime service. Verheyen also is a director-at-large for USITT-SRS. Verheyen is the School’s principal faculty costume and make-up designer, instructor and technician. During her forty years as a theatre artist, she has designed more than 400 productions including drama, opera, dance, high-fashion, film, video, television, circus and commercials.

Chapman at Diverseworks

Teresa Chapman


Teresa Chapman, Associate Professor of Dance in the School of Theatre and Dance, had a show, The Convenient Woman, at Diverseworks Art Space earlier this month. Lighting design by SOTD Director Steven Wallace and video design by Frederique deMontblanc of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Chapman has enjoyed a wide variety of experiences in her dancing career. Most memorable for her are her roles in the Los Angeles Opera’s contemporary version of The Flying Dutchman and dancing the role of Cassandra in the Hamburg production of CATS. Read an interview with Chapman here.

Witt releases new CD

Woody Witt


Woody Witt (’92 Applied Music, ’00 D.M.A. Performance) is an Affiliate Artist in the Rebecca and John J. Moores School of Music and a Professor of Jazz Studies at Houston Community College Town and Country campus. He’s also the entertainment director of Houston’s jazz club, Cézanne. He’s performed with Ray Charles, The Temptations, Kenny Rogers, Tony Bennett, Ray Becker, the Houston Symphony, and former CLASS student Tommy Tune.

Becker, a Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer says Witt “continues the tradition of great Texas Tenors with a big fat sound, fresh ideas and a decidedly modern and original approach to improvisation and composition. A perfect combination of building on the past and searching for the future.”

If you like jazz, then you may want to try Witt’s new release on the Heart label, Seasons Ago - The Music Of Alec Wilder. You can find out more about Witt on his Web page.


A different view of obesity epidemic

Samantha Kwan


Headlines tell us obesity has become an epidemic in the United States. But Samantha Kwan, Assistant Professor of Sociology, thinks there’s more meat to this story. While recognizing the upward shift in body weight over the years, Kwan says the media have given too much weight to the condition because of an overreliance on the Body Mass Index as the main way to define obesity.

“This epidemic has been constructed to the benefit of the medical industry that has, in part, medicalized the treatment of obesity over the years,” Kwan says. “While there may be a rise in obesity, the BMI is not always accurate. Some scholars describe this epidemic more as a moral panic. While there may be some truths to rising rates, they have been overstated.”

Kwan, who has been studying gender and body image since 2001, examines how cultural beauty messages about fat interact with other cultural messages about fat, such as health discourses. She’s summarized this in Framing the Fat Body: Contested Meanings between Government, Activists and Industry, published in February’s Sociological Inquiry.

“I am trying to get students and audiences to understand that there are competing cultural meanings about the fat body,” Kwan explains. “Fat does not, in itself, signify unhealthy and unattractive. These are cultural constructions. We as a society say what it means to be fat, and right now cultural discourses say it’s ugly and unhealthy to be fat. … It’s also assumed that the body is a reflection of the psyche, including one’s moral fiber.”

Kwan has found that women, more than men, closely tie their self-esteem to their weight.

“Women care about their weight and appearance, and I don't want to say that they are being co-opted by cultural messages,” Kwan says. “They are not necessarily cultural dupes with false consciousness. They want to lose weight, look good/thin/beautiful, and to conform to body messages because there are rewards to be gained and sanctions to be avoided when one is, or passes as, thin.” (Kelli Ferrell)


Kotarba’s new book on music and our inner beasts

Joe Kotarba


If we believe music offers significant insight on individuals’ beliefs, personalities, interests, and cultural backgrounds, then it should come as little surprise that popular music has found its way into Sociology classrooms. In fact, department chair Joe Kotarba, Professor of Sociology, recently co-authored a text on the subject.

Written with Phillip Vannini, associate professor at Royal Roads University, Understanding Society Through Popular Music (Routledge), illustrates essential sociological principles through music by exploring contemporary music and a host of genres, such as heavy metal, punk, rap, country, and pop. Chapter topics include popular music's relationship to the family, the economy, deviance, children, race, class, gender, and the self.

Students in Kotarba’s Introduction to Sociology and The Sociology of Popular Music classes use the book. “It will be very helpful in engaging students and opening their minds to the subject,” explains Kotarba. “Students typically like some form of popular music or a particular performer. Exploring sociology through the culture of music will help them understand how it is relevant to their lives.”

“Popular music contains most, if not all, of the fundamental principles of sociology,” Kotarba notes. “One can find social stratification in popular music, for example, by observing the different styles of music listened to by the working- and upper-middle classes. Popular music also has implications for gender issues. Take, for example, the fact that the rock genre is dominated by male acts, while female artists rule pop. Popular music opens new doors for exploring the nuances of social processes.”

Kotarba has written numerous articles on popular music, as well as the book Growing Old with Rock 'n' Roll. His recent research efforts include “Mapping the Varieties of Latino Music in Houston,” in which he and a team of graduate students observed Houston's Latino communities to learn how music relates to and supports their everyday life experiences.

For more details on Kwan, Kotarba, and the UH sociology department, visit the department’s Web page, and to learn more about Understanding Society Through Popular Music, visit the Routledge Home page.

Center for Public History News

Martin Melosi


Martin Melosi, Executive Director, Center for Public History and Distinguished University Professor of History, received the 2009 Distinguished Service Award from the American Society for Environmental History at its annual meeting in Tallahassee, Fla., in March. The organization presents this award biennially to individuals who made outstanding contributions to the organization and community. Melosi served as president of the ASEH from 1993-1995. He funded the E.V. and Nancy Melosi Travel Grant, and helped organize two conferences in Houston, the only city to host the event twice. His fundraising efforts made these events successful, and he continues to provide advice on fundraising and other matters to the organization.

Melosi also delivered a presentation on water supply systems at the Water and Sustainability Symposium sponsored by the National Academy of Environmental Design and the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., in February. The symposium was meant to develop policy positions for use by federal officials. And, he participated in the “Cities in the Americas” workshop, part of the America’s Initiative at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. in March. He presented a paper entitled, “Houston: Energy Capital.” He will host a follow-up workshop at UH in March, 2010, and will serve as co-editor of a volume based on the papers given at the workshop.

Debbie Harwell, Associate Editor of Houston History, participated in the “Wednesdays Women in Black and White” conference sponsored by the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., on March 27. The conference explored a history of women’s activism, particularly Wednesdays in Mississippi, a civil rights program sponsored by the National Council of Negro Women and the only one organized for women, by women, as part of a national women’s organization. Harwell presented a paper, “Like a long-handled spoon: How Wednesdays in Mississippi United Women across Regional and Racial Lines”, detailing how the project was conceived and implemented, and the strategies these women used to effect change.

Souza exhibition

Unbroken Circles

Al Souza, Professor Painting in the School of Art, had an exhibition at Moody Gallery, 2815 Colquitt in Houston, earlier this month: More is More.

From the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication

Bob Heath


Bob Heath, Emeritus Professor of Communication, with Elizabeth Toth and Damion Waymer, recently published Rhetorical and Critical Approaches to Public Relations II (New York, Routledge). Heath also wrote the Introduction and Chapter One: The Rhetorical Tradition: Wrangle in the Marketplace. Heath and Waymer wrote Chapter 10: Activist Public Relations, the Paradox of the Positive: A Case Study of Frederick Douglass’ “Fourth of July Address.” Jane Stuart Baker, (M.A., ’04 Speech Communication) is the lead author of Chapter 9: The Devil in Disguise: Vioxx, Drug Safety, and the FDA. And Lan Ni, Assistant Professor of Communication, and Waymer wrote Chapter 11: Connecting Organizations and their Employee Publics: The Rhetorical Analysis of Employee-Organization Relationships.

Julie Fix


Julie Fix, Instructional Professor of Communication, offered a pre-conference morning workshop, “Jumpstart for Your Profession,” during the Best in the Southwest Communicators' Conference in Frisco, Texas, last month. The workshop targeted professionals new to the field and/or interested in public relations accreditation. She also co-presented and moderated a student workshop session, “You're Hired!” about cover letters, resumes, and networking; and facilitated the awards presentations at the annual Texas Public Relations Association Silver Spur/Best of Texas Awards Banquet. She manages TPRA’s annual awards competition. And, last month she taught a day-long workshop on accreditation for the Public Relations Society of America Houston Chapter in the Communication Technology Center.

Learn more about the Valenti School of Communication by visiting its Web site.

Kaza to Saint Louis Symphony

Robert Kaza


Roger Kaza, Assistant Professor of Horn in the Rebecca and John J. Moores School of Music is heading back to St. Louis in September to join the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra as principal horn. He is associate principal horn of the Houston Symphony and principal horn of the Chautauqua (N.Y.) Symphony. Kaza held positions with the SLO from 1983-95, the Vancouver Symphony, the Boston Symphony, and the Boston Pops where he was solo horn under John Williams.

Call for entries for the Julia Ideson Award

The Julia Ideson Award recognizes projects that contribute to local and Texas history and culture, completed using the resources of the Houston Public Library’s Texas Room/Houston Metropolitan Research Center. The award honors the memory of the library’s first director and is presented at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Texas Room in October.

Eligibility for consideration

The entry must be:

  • a scholarly research project completed within the past five years (2003-08) and concerning local or Texas history or culture
  • based on significant use of the resources of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center by the nominee.

Entries must be submitted in the name of the person(s) or organization responsible for completion of the project. Winning entries will list these names on the award and all supporting materials. Submission of an entry constitutes an agreement to these terms and serves as agreement that the Friends of the Texas Room may publicize the award and accompanying details about the recipients.


  • Books
  • Published articles
  • Published or unpublished graduate theses or dissertations
  • Films or video productions
  • Web sites
  • Miscellaneous


Award winners will be determined by a panel of qualified historians and community leaders, independent of officers and members of the board of directors of the Friends of the Texas Room. Entries will be judged based on their contribution to the community historical and cultural record; quality; and the degree to which the project serves as an example of effective use of the resources of the Texas Room/HMRC.

Entry deadlines

Completed entry packets must be postmarked by June 1, 2009, and sent to:
Friends of the Texas Room
P.O. Box 27827
Houston, Texas 77227-7827

For additional information
Download Submission Instructions PDF
Contact Sims McCutchan at 713.528.3702 or

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This just in . . . (sorta)

The University of Houston System Board of Regents Finance and Administration Committee approved the maximum tuition and fees schedule for the 2009-10 academic year at its meeting on April 14, which was right at our newsletter deadline. We held the cyber presses so we could include the information.

The full Board will vote it up or down at its regular meeting on April 21. That keeps the University square with state law that requires publishing of the maximum tuition and fees on May 1.

Keep in mind that these are maximum numbers, contingent on what the Legislature passes and the governor signs. So far, lawmakers have various bills with increases ranging from 0 percent to 5 percent. The scheduled passed by the BOR committee calls for an overall 5-percent increase.

University of Houston
12 Credit Hours per semester
Resident Undergraduate Students

Tuition (per hour) Rate ($) 12 Hours ($) Pct change
Statutory 50.00 600.00 0.0
General Designated 131.50 1,578.00 11.9
Differential Designated 6.28 75.41 0.0
Subtotal 187.78 2,253.41 8.1
College fees (average) 40.22 482.62 0.0
University-wide fees (no change)      
Student Services (semester) 185.00 185.00  
Technology Fee (per hour) 13.75 165.00  
University Center (semester) 35.00 35.00  
Library (per hour) 9.00 108.00  
Int’l Education (semester) 1.00 1.00  
Campus Card (semester) 6.00 6.00  
Rec. Wellness Cntr (semester) 84.00 84.00  
Instructional Access (per hour) 3.50 42.00  
Student Academic Svc (per hour) 2.75 33.00  
Utility Assessment 8.50 102.00  
Subtotal 345.50 761.00  
Total Tuition and Fees (semester)   3,497.03 5.0


View/download pdf of this information table.

View/download the list of optional fees.


Pozdniakova wins national diving title, UH’s first since 2003

You wanna talk top-tier status? OK, but we may run the risk of a bit of trash talk, Sparky. That’s because University of Houston students in our College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences over the past few weeks did the old vinius, vidimus, vicimus routine on their competition.

Anastasia Pozdniakova


Anastasia Pozdniakova, a junior Art major, won the national championship in the 1-meter diving event last month at the NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas. The Russia native scored 351.15 points to become the first Cougar diver to win the national title since Yulia Pakhalina won the 1-meter event at the 2003 NCAA Championships. Pozdniakova and Pakhalina won silver medals in the 2008 Summer Olympics competing for the Russians.

Pozdniakova also finished second in the 3-meter event and first in the consolation finals of the platform diving event. She is the first Cougar to finish in the Top 10 in all three events since Linda Pesek in 1991.

Sasha Schwendenwein


Sasha Schwendenwein, a senior majoring in Communication and English-Creative Writing, finished 16th in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:57.48, the Cougar’s highest finish in an NCAA swimming event final since another CLASS alumna, Maija Airas (’90 Graphics Communication and History), finished 12th in the 50-yard freestyle in 1989.

Overall, the Cougars took 17th place, their highest finish at the NCAA Championships since finishing 17th at the 1985-86 meet.

Moores students don’t leave much for anyone else

Gregory McDaniel


Gregory McDaniel bested 150 entrants at the American Choral Directors Association National Undergraduate Conducting Competition in Oklahoma City on March 6. McDaniel is an undergraduate vocal music education student from the studios of Betsy Weber and Timothy Jones.

Founded in 1959, the American Choral Directors Association is a nonprofit music-education organization whose central purpose is to promote excellence in choral music through performance, composition, publication, research, and teaching. In addition, ACDA strives through arts advocacy to elevate choral music’s position in American society.

Jse Ortiz


Daryl Robinson and Jose Reyes Ortiz won first and second place, respectively, at the 38th Annual William C. Hall Pipe Organ Competition in San Antonio on March 7. Both undergraduate students are from the studio of Robert Bates.

The William C. Hall Pipe Organ Competition was founded as the San Antonio Pipe Organ Competition in 1970, largely through the efforts of Mr. Hall, who originally conceived it out of his great love of church music. He wanted to ensure the future of organ music by encouraging the study of organ by students who would later become professional church organists.


Desiree Alejandro, soprano, took two first place honors, the vocal division and the overall Grand Prize, from among eight finalists in the 25th Annual Young Texas Artist Music Competition held on March 14th in the historic Crighton Theatre in Conroe, Texas. Alejandro is a Master’s student from the studio of Cynthia Clayton.

Natalie Lin


Natalie Lin, violinist from the studio of Kyung Sun Lee, won first place in the string division and in the Audience Choice Award from among the eight finalists in the Young Texas Artist Music Competition. As part of her award, Ms. Lin has been invited to perform with the Conroe Symphony.

The Montgomery County Performing Arts Society created the competition in 1983. Entergy Texas has sponsored it for the pasts ten years. To compete, a person must be enrolled in the study of classical music in Texas music schools or a resident of Texas pursuing such study elsewhere. The competition’s four divisions are piano, voice, strings, and an area that includes wind, brass, percussion, harp, and guitar.

UH Marching Band

The Spirit of Houston

The “Spirit of Houston” Cougar Marching Band won first place in the College/University category of the Marching Band Competition for the 2009 Martin Luther King Grande Parade-Houston on January 19.

History’s Hinojosa wins prize

Yeah, we figure this isn’t a photo of Clarissa Hinojosa, although it was posted next to her bio on the History department’s grad student page. But, if it got your attention, that’s OK, because we want to tell you that the Ph.D. candidate in European history took the History Essay Prize from the Western Conference on British Studies for the best paper given at the annual WCBS conference in San Antonio last fall. Hinojosa received $500 for her essay, Justice Overdue: An Historically-Based Critical Reinterpretation of Alice Overdo in Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair.

Goodwin presents research in D.C.

Derek Goodwin


Mary Talbert’s name might not ring a bell, but her contributions to African American history are getting noticed thanks to CLASS student Derek Goodwin.

Readers of Graffit-e remember Goodwin from his interview in the Discovery section of the March 2008 edition, which you can watch by clicking here.

Goodwin's research sheds new light on Talbert’s role in building the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Texas. The junior history major takes his findings to Washington D.C., as a presenter at the prestigious “Posters on the Hill” on May 5.

The Council of Undergraduate Research sponsors the annual event on Capitol Hill to showcase student research efforts to members of congress and representatives of higher education funding agencies. Goodwin’s abstract for a research poster titled “That Part of Hell Where We Should Work: Mary B. Talbert and the Texas NAACP” was selected for this event.

“It's exciting to have this opportunity to share my research and represent the university,” Goodwin says.

He began his research on Talbert in 2007 through his partnership with UH’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, an annual summer program that provides a $2,800 stipend to selected UH students. Charles Orson Cook, Visiting Associate Professor of History in The Honors College and Goodwin’s faculty advisor, directed Goodwin to an article on black history in Texas that mentioned Talbert. Follow-up investigations uncovered facts about Talbert's work with NAACP chapters in Texas in the early 20th century.

“Through NAACP records and her own written correspondence, we traced her tour through Texas as she recruited members in San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin between 1918 and 1919,” Goodwin explains. “Because of her work, NAACP membership in Texas was the highest in the nation. This is incredible considering the era and the country's attitudes toward race at that time.”

In D.C., Goodwin will present a research poster summarizing his project. The event will be conducted in the Rayburn House Office Building, named for longtime House Speaker Sam Rayburn, also known as Mr. Sam, who was a Bonham boy, same as Goodwin.

UH’s Office of Undergraduate Discovery Programs aided in Goodwin’s participation in Posters. The office oversees the University’s Learning through Discovery Initiative, aimed at bolstering undergraduate students’ research abilities, providing research resources, and partnering them with mentors.

Goodwin presented an earlier draft of his research in 2008 at the Southwestern Social Science Association Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, where it received the Best Paper Prize in the category U.S. History. He presented another paper related to this project, “Assault on the NAACP: The Austin Assault of John R. Shillady,” last year at the Fall Meeting of the East Texas Historical Society.

Goodwin already knows his way around Washington. He worked as government intern with the Department of Homeland Security in 2007, and he interned with the Department of Defense in 2008.

Learn more about “Posters on the Hill” by clicking here. And find out more about the Office of Undergraduate Discovery Programs and the Learning through Discovery Initiative by clicking here. (Mike Emery)

CLASS student leads SGA, again

Fomunung            Dike          Jonas Chin

Kenneth Fomunung, a senior Communication major, is the new president of the Student Government Association. Fomunung succeeds Samuel Dike, a Political Science major. Jonas Chin, a Communication major, was vice president under Dike.

Fomunung (right)
photo credit: Steven Oster,
The Daily Cougar
Dike Chin

Commencement next month

The time is fast upon us! The University of Houston and our College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences honor our graduates and their families during the college commencement Friday, May 15, at 9:00 a.m. in Hofheinz Pavilion. We welcome all family members and friends to this great day in the life of our students and of the University, and to watch all graduates walk across the stage in full academic regalia to receive individual recognition from Interim Dean Joe Pratt.

Bring everyone you know, ‘cause there’s no limit to the number of guests that may accompany a graduate. RSVP by May 8. We don’t require tickets, but we would like to have an idea of the size of the audience.

The Dean’s Office will host a continental breakfast for graduates and their families starting at 7:00 a.m. in the O’Quinn Great Hall of the Athletics/Alumni Center next to Hofheinz Pavilion. To attend, please fill out the breakfast part of the online RSVP.

And, a graduating student completing 70 hours or more and who is in good standing with the University can purchase a class ring and take part in the traditional ring ceremony sponsored by The University of Houston Alumni Association (formerly the Houston Alumni Organization). Ceremony dates are Thursday, May 7 and Friday, May 8, at 6:00 p.m. both days, in the O'Quinn Great Hall in the Athletics/Alumni Center next to Hofheinz Pavilion. You can sign up to participate on one of the two days by clicking here.

Also, if you have any other questions, please feel free to contact:

Jamie L. Ochoa
Assistant Director for Student and Young Alumni Programs
Toll-free: 1.877.COUGAR1
Fax: 713.743.9560


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CMAS program succeeds at Austin High

Austin High School participants
(photo credit: Nick de la Torre, Houston Chronicle)

The Houston Chronicle ran a story this month about Austin High School students in the Academic Achievers Program established by our Center for Mexican American Studies.

The Program began in 1985 as the Hispanic Family College Project as a way to increase the high school graduation and college enrollment rates in the East End area of Houston. After a five year lapse, which ended in 1998, it was resumed as SABE – Students Aspiring to a Better Education. In the summer of 2005, the name changed to the Academic Achievers Program, but the mission and structure of the program remained the same.

The Academic Achievers Program provides:

  • tutoring
  • mentoring
  • academic workshops
  • special presentations
  • informational meetings
  • field trips
  • SAT preparation classes
  • leadership development retreats
  • summer sessions

AAP students who enroll in UH upon high school graduation receive automatic admission into the college-level AAP, and become eligible for a four-year, $10,000

Members of the AAP at Austin High School must meet the following requirements:

  • work toward a GPA of at least 3.0
  • enroll in pre-Advanced Placement and Advanced Placement courses
  • complete at least 3 hours of supervised studying and/or tutoring per week
  • attend all program sponsored activities and events
  • participate in community service projects

The requirements help the members remain focused on their studies and accomplish their academic goals.

Learn more about the AAP program at Austin High and at UH, and about the Center for Mexican American Studies, by visiting the CMAS Web site.


Speech Therapy Summer Camp

The University Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is excited to bring back Cougar Communication Groups. These affordable and intensive summer speech therapy groups are for children ages 3 and up. They are designed to improve speech and language skills and maintain progress made during the school year. The summer program features small groups with a ratio of 1 clinician to 2-3 children.

Groups focus on a specific disorder area. Various groups are available to focus on Language, Articulation/ Phonology, Social, Reading/ Literacy, Reading Comprehension, Fluency, and Voice skills. These groups are especially appropriate for children who do not receive public school services during the summer.

Enrollment continues from now until May 25. Please call 713-743-2898 for an enrollment packet or for further information. Tuition is on a sliding scale and adjusted to families with lower incomes. University of Houston students, faculty, and staff receive a discount.


Community partnerships focus of Center for Public Policy conference

Jim Granato


Someone, somewhere, said conducting collaborative research in the community is like getting married: The relationship is long term, so it must be nurtured and planned, and communicative-useful results come out of it. It also is a constant work-in-progress.

The Center for Public Policy and the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics held “The Community-Based Participatory Research Workshop: Challenges and Solutions for Researchers and Community Leaders” on April 10 to help researchers and community members hone skills and create effective teams that can lead to significant real-world impacts.

“Participatory research means the researcher works in long-term collaboration with a community,” said CPP director Jim Granato. “That means you build a relationship, not grab the data and run. It’s different than other kinds of research.”

Workshop topics included models of community engagement, challenges to community-based research, ideas on how to create effective research teams and an effective community-based research, ways of engaging minority communities. and dealing with sensitive subjects. In addition, participants heard about the Framingham Heart Study, a study of cardiovascular disease that began in 1948 and is now following the third generation of the original 5,000 participants from Framingham, Mass. This research program has provided enormous benefits to the participating community, as well as to all of society and cardio-vascular medicine precisely because of the outstanding community/researcher relationships that the project has cultivated over the years.

“Community-based participatory research raises many challenges for researchers, like all the extra time spent on a project without funding, a changing array of community leaders, and a community that is unsure of the researcher's motivation,” said Joan Sieber, editor-in-chief of the JERHRE. “But participatory research means researchers gain a genuine sense of helping a community, earning their respect and producing work that may immediately impact public policy.” (Marisa Ramirez, ’00 English)


African American Studies hosts symposium and arts festival

The African American Studies Program held The Black Images in the Media Symposium and Arts Festival, April 8-11. The idea for the conference evolved after controversy involving statements by rocker Keith Richards and radio talkshow guy Don Imus. The symposium/arts festival provided opportunities to promote positive Black images that counter the Black pop culture that some members of various media claim creates opportunities for such statements. Participants engaged in discussion about African American images. The symposium also included top scholars who discussed the historic, current, and futuristic issues involving African Americans on stage, in film, and in music. The two-day film festival featured the best in film shorts, features, documentaries, and music videos.


Symposium examines current state of Empire Studies

The department of English hosted “The Current State of Empire Studies,” April 17-18. Saree Makdisi, professor of English at UCLA and author of Romantic Imperialism and Palestine Inside Out, delivered the keynote address.

Roundtables included “Historical Colonialisms” and “Colonial Scholarship and the Present Moment.” Funding for the symposium came from the Houstoun Endowment of the Department of English, the University of Houston.

Grammy gracias

R U a writer wannabe?

Logo Glass Mountain

So you want to be a writer, huh? Well, come on in! Thereís room in the pool if you donít mind the occasional floating flotsam. Clear your calendars for June 22-27, 2009, for boldface, a conference for emerging writers sponsored by Glass Mountain, UHís undergraduate literary journal.

Youíll get to work on your writing in small workshops; hear craft talks that address specific elements of creative writing; benefit from valuable professional advice; read your work to an audience of your peers; and network with other aspiring writers.

Logo for Boldface

boldface invites your registration, regardless of whether youíre published or whether you have an undergraduate degree in creative writing. But, youíre outta luck if youíre enrolled in, or have graduated from, a graduate creative writing program. This workshop is for writers at the start of their careers. Sorry.

Click here to see whatís going on.

For more information, contact boldface at

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Nova MasterMinds



Back in 2005, alumnae Jenni Rebecca Stevenson (’03 Applied Music, ’05 MFA, Theatre) and Amy Hopper (’06 MFA, Theatre), along with Clinton Hopper, formed Nova Arts Project on the belief that Houston is at the crest of a wave of rising artistic opportunity and ready to take its place as one of the world’s top art cities. This year, the Houston Press named Nova as one of its inaugural MasterMind Award recipients.



“We were looking for artists on the cutting edge right now, people and groups doing some pretty amazing things, often on limited budgets,” is how HP described how they chose the recipients of the award and accompanying $2,000 check.

Stevenson is a Houston native. She’s worked with several local arts organizations, including the Ebony Opera, Ars Lyrica, AURA, the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, the Sandra Organ Dance Company, the Allegro Ballet, and Theatre Under The Stars. She directed three operas for the Moores Opera Center, including Mozart's Impresario and La finta giardiniera, and Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. She also directed Stuart Ostrow’s Musical Theatre Collaboration, Peaches for the Edward Albee New Playwrights Festival at UH.

Hopper was raised in Houston and lived for six years in Austin after getting her undergrad from Oklahoma University. She’s worked with Salvage Vanguard Theater, The Vortex, State Theatre Company, Gypsy Baby, Different Stages and Disciples of Melpomene. In Houston, she directed Owen Wister, Considered, and The Danube at UH.

You can find out more about Nova Arts Project at its Web site.


CLASS alumni want to be Houston’s next mayor





Two CLASS alumni have set their sights on the Houston mayor’s office by announcing their plans to join the political fray for this November’s elections. Peter Brown (’58 French) is the At-Large Position 1 council member and Gene Locke (’69 Political Science) is a partner at the law firm of Andrews Kurth LLP. As of this writing, the race has two other candidates, City Comptroller Annise Parker and county education trustee Roy Morales.

Robinson gets new diversity role at the University of Arkansas



Charles Robinson (’87 History, Ph.D. ’97 History), Associate Professor of History and Director of the African American Studies Program at the University of Arkansas, is the school’s new Vice Provost for Diversity. He assumes the post effective July 1. He’ll also serve on the chancellor’s executive committee and will administer all university-wide efforts to enhance diversity.

Lauster exhibition



The Gallery at The University of Texas at Arlington will present a two-person exhibition that includes Darryl Lauster (’98 Studio Art-Painting), an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Texas-Arlington, through April 25. He has exhibited nationally in exhibitions at the Louise Wells Cameron Museum of Art, in Wilmington, N.C., and the John Michael Kohler Foundation in Sheboygan, Wis. Regional shows include the Devin Borden/Hiram Butler Gallery in Houston, the Galveston Arts Center in Galveston, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, and the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art. He has received several artist grants and fellowship including those from the Peter S. Reed Foundation in New York and the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County. Lauster’s work can be found in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the University of Central Arkansas, and McNeese State University.

Moss at Joan Wich

Diagnostic Landscape Three

B. Moss, (M.F.A. ’07 Painting), a former student of Al Souza (see Faculty section), was exhibited earlier this month at Joan Wich & Co., 4411 Montrose in Houston.



Elizabeth (Scout) Blum (M.A. ’97 History, Ph.D., ’00 History), Associate Professor of History at Troy University, published Love Canal Revisited: Race, Class, and Gender in Environmental Activism (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2008).

Amy Bacon (M.A. ’96 History) will publish Living Memorial, Living Tradition: The Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University by Texas A&M University Press in 2009.

Felipe Hinojosa


Felipe Hinojosa has accepted a job at Texas A&M University as Assistant Professor of Latino/a history beginning in Fall 2009.



Steven Laubacher (’90 Ph.D., Political Science) is the new executive director for Trillium Family Solutions, the oldest social service agency in Stark County, Ohio. His last gig was as state director of Ohio’s NHS Human Services. He’d also worked stints at Norcare Enterprises behavioral health center in Cleveland, and at several other mental and health care agencies in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.



Jen Stuart (’93 Theatre) is the Director of Membership for First Church in Austin, Texas, and is going for her Masters of Divinity at Austin’s Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Davis-Jones (front left)
photo credit: Bill Olive,
Houston Chronicle

Jo Anne Davis-Jones (’79 Radio and Television), Managing Editor of The University of Houston Magazine, was one of five women playing the role of civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells in Houston’s Ensemble Theatre production of Tazewell Thompson’s Constant Star. Read more about the production at

Wanna go to China in May?

The University of Houston Alumni Association has some space remaining for a 13-day trip to China.

With a history that stretches longer than its Great Wall, China has a culture and landscape that can accommodate the metropolitan shopper and the spiritual sojourner with equal satisfaction. Come see why China was chosen as the 2008 Olympic stage.

Highlights of the 13-day journey include:

  • Three nights in Beijing at the Hilton Beijing
  • Two nights in Xi’an at the Sofitel on Renmin Square
  • Three night Yangtze River cruise
  • Three nights in Shanghai at the Hilton Shanghai
  • Experience imperial palaces, the Great Wall, a traditional Peking Opera, a performance at The Shanghai Acrobatic Theater, and so much more

Learn more at

For more information on this trip or general questions about the Alumni Travel Program, email or call 713-743-9550.


Legislative update

The 111th Congress and the 81st Texas Legislature are still going strong in D.C. and Austin, respectively. Once again, UH (and CLASS) Cougars prowl the halls of power. We’ve put together a list of the Cougar Congressional and Legislative delegations, along with links to their Web pages, so you can keep track of what they’re doing on our and your behalf. Their Web pages also have contact information, just in case you need to set them straight on a thing or two.

We’re also including the April 3 and 10 State Legislative Updates put out by the offices of the UH System Chancellor and Governmental Relations


April 3, 2009
(This update is produced by the UH System Office of Governmental Relations and the Office of the Chancellor/President as a service to our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends.)


Not unexpectedly, state finances have been the main topic of discussion at the Capitol this week. The Senate, after hours of debate and discussion, passed SB 1, the general state appropriations bill. They have increased funding to the formulas (over the base, introduced bill) and made other adjustments to reflect updated research awards and certain equity changes. The result is an increase over the current biennium for all UH System universities:

 Total Increase Percentage Increase
UH $23,547,416 5.5%
UHCL 3,057,565 3.8%
UHD 5,834,365 7.0%
UHV 3,294,085 8.6%
UHSA 473,786 9.1%


The total $182.2 billion budget includes over $10 billion in federal stimulus money. The federal funds averted the need for anticipated across-the-board cuts in state agency appropriations this fiscal year and keeps the $9.1 billion Rainy Day Fund intact. The largest portion (41%) of the budget goes to public and higher education. The complete bill can be found here:
The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote out their version of the appropriations bill next Tuesday and to consider it before the full House on Friday, April 17. They expect to work through the weekend to complete deliberations.

Rumors abound that the State Comptroller will revise her revenue estimate downward, which would necessitate a reduction in state spending. Under the Texas Constitution, the Comptroller is required to certify that the appropriations bill does not exceed available revenues before it can be sent to the Governor for his signature. The Federal Reserve announced this week that the Texas economy is weaker than it was six weeks ago.

Sen. Steve Ogden, Chair of the Finance Committee, warned this week that it was particularly important to leave the Rainy Day Fund untouched because he expects a worse budget situation (a structural deficit) next session. He said, "Things can get worse before they get better. You will see …serious deterioration in sales tax collections, showing that state of Texas slowing down faster than we thought. I think that's getting ready to happen."

Tier One 
SJR 35 by Sen. Duncan (R-Lubbock), which establishes a constitutional fund for emerging research universities, was reported from Senate Finance Committee and may be considered by the full Senate next week.

On another significant funding issue, the Senate Higher Education Committee held a marathon hearing on SB 1443, which places a cap on tuition increases. UH System Chancellor Renu Khator joined her fellow chancellors from the other Texas university systems to testify before the committee. UH-Downtown President Max Castillo also attended the hearing.

UH-Victoria Downward Expansion 
President Tim Hudson, UH-Victoria, attended the hearing as well. He, along with Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong, Victoria College President Dr. Tom Butler, and other Victoria community leaders, testified on behalf of the UHV downward expansion bill. The Senate Bill was favorably reported from committee. That afternoon, they appeared before the House Higher Education Committee on the same issue. The House Bill was left pending. Sen. Glen Hegar (R-Katy) and Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) are the respective sponsors of the legislation.

UH UC Fee 
Vice President for Students Affairs Elwyn Lee arranged for about a dozen UH student leaders to visit the Capitol on Wednesday. UH student Micah Kenfield, Co-chair of the UC 2010 Initiative and Chair of the UC Policy Board, testified before the House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday. He spoke in favor of HB 2961, which authorizes an increase in the University Center fee cap. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston).

Veterans' Services 
We failed to mention in last week's report that another UH official participated in the legislative process. Allen Grundy, program coordinator for the Veterans' Services Office, testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on the special needs of veterans returning to college life. He was asked to testify because the UH VSO has an excellent reputation for providing a wide array of quality programs, including counseling and mentoring.

For additional information on the Legislature, click here

April 10, 2009

(This update is produced by the UH System Office of Governmental Relations and the Office of the Chancellor/President as a service to our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends.)


Funding Update
The House Appropriations Committee reported their version of the funding bill on Tuesday. The full House will begin deliberations next Friday. They expect to work through the weekend. You can view the full document or a summary here:
Considering the $9.1 billion shortfall at the beginning of the session in January, it is amazing how the federal stimulus has allowed both House and Senate bills to increase funding for higher education. The following graph shows the increases over current biennial funding:

  Senate Version House Version

  Total Increase  % Increase Total Increase  % Increase
UH $23,547,416  5.5%  $25,266,816  5.9%
 UHCL  3,057,565  3.8% 2,973,053  3.7%
UHD 5,834,365 7.0% 12,163,935 14.5%
 UHV  3,294,085  8.6%  4,079,735 10.6%
 UHSA  473,786  9.1% 0 0

The House Appropriations Committee also reported out the supplemental appropriations bill. It includes two items that benefit the UH System. It re-appropriates $4,245,244 to UH to correct a technical error and will allow UH to now spend the money on construction of the Wind Blade Testing Facility. It also appropriates $7,339,000 in general revenue to the UH System Administration for hurricane recovery. The full House will vote on the bill on Thursday. You can watch the House debate here:

UHCL Pearland Campus
UH-Clear Lake President Bill Staples appeared as a resource witness this week before the House Higher Education Committee and Senate Economic Development Committee on bills that would clarify how the City of Pearland could finance a building for UHCL.

Dual Enrollment
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost John Antel testified before the House Higher Education Committee on HB 1864 by Rep. Scott Hochberg which will allow the UH System Board of Regents to authorize inter-institutional partnerships with Rice University and other private institutions whereby the students need not pay tuition at both schools.

At 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15, the House Higher Education Committee will hear seven bills limiting tuition increases. Senators are informally working to reach an agreement on tuition legislation. Watch the House hearing live or view the archived hearings.

Senate Higher Education Committee Meeting
Also on Wednesday, the Senate Higher Education Committee will meet. To accommodate the lengthy agenda, they will begin at 7 a.m. Watch the hearing live or view archived hearings.

SB 31
Relating to tuition rebates for students who complete certain coursework at two-year public institutions of higher education.
SB 45
Relating to tuition exemptions at public institutions of higher education for students enrolled in certain inter-institutional academic programs.
SB 46
Relating to tuition exemptions at public institutions of higher education for certain students who volunteer for outreach programs.
SB 145
Relating to the sale by textbook publishers of bundled instructional material for use by students at public institutions of higher education.
SB 201
Relating to the participation of the medical school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso in the Joint Admission Medical Program.
SB 215
Van de Putte
Relating to the sale of instructional materials to students of public institutions of higher education.
SB 255
Relating to designation of Midwestern State University as a public liberal arts university.
SB 256
Relating to an intercollegiate athletics fee at Midwestern State University.
SB 324
Relating to the tuition rebate program for certain undergraduate students at general academic teaching institutions.
SB 473
Relating to an intercollegiate athletics fee at the University of North Texas.
SB 819
Davis, Wendy
Relating to the vaccination against bacterial meningitis of certain first-time students at public institutions of higher education.
SB 857
Relating to the purchasing and contracting practices of junior college districts.
SB 1179
Patrick, Dan
Relating to requiring general academic teaching institutions to offer health benefit plans to students.
SB 1249
Relating to the creation of a pilot program to improve curricula alignment between junior colleges and general academic teaching institutions for engineering degree programs.
SB 1327
Relating to the disposition of surplus data processing equipment of a university system or an institution or agency of higher education.
SB 1334
Relating to continuation of the intercollegiate athletics fee for students at Prairie View A&M University.
SB 1342
Relating to authorization for an exemption from tuition and fees charged by a junior college district for employees of the district and for state reimbursement of the district's revenue loss from the exemption.
SB 1394
Relating to notification of an applicant for admission to a general academic teaching institution regarding the availability of degree programs in the applicant's preferred major field of study offered by other institutions.
SB 1728
Relating to the administration of and eligibility for the Joint Admissions Medical Program.
SB 1729
Relating to the terms of student members of certain Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board advisory committees.
SB 1735
Relating to the employment and commissioning of law enforcement personnel to provide security services to certain educational institutions.
SB 1800
Relating to methods for increasing student success and degree completion at institutions of higher education.
SB 1801
Relating to orientation programs for new students at public institutions of higher education.
SB 1849
Relating to the student endowment scholarship and internship program fund at The University of Texas at El Paso.
SB 2007

Relating to Prairie View A&M University's eligibility to participate in the research development fund.
SB 2189

Relating to the degrees awarded by the Texas State Technical College System.
SB 2210
Relating to the formula funding for public institutions of higher education for certain credit hours that do not count toward a degree.
SB 2243
Relating to the repayment of certain education loans for licensed physicians and dentists.
SB 2244
Relating to the eligibility of employees of certain businesses or organizations established as part of the state's economic development program to pay resident tuition at public institutions of higher education.
SB 2246
Relating to eligibility requirements for the tuition equalization grant program.
SB 2262
Relating to the administration of mathematics, science, and technology teacher preparation academies at institutions of higher education.
SB 2348
Relating to the composition and appointment of the board of directors of a corporation to which the board of regents of the University of Texas delegates investment authority for the permanent university fund.
SB 2465
Relating to the payment of certain costs associated with educational programs of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute of The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
SJR 12

Relating to authorizing a student member of the board of regents of a state institution of higher education or state university system to serve a term that differs from the terms of the other members.


SB 9
Relating to financial support and incentives for the development of national research universities and high-quality comprehensive regional universities and a review of the institutional groupings.
SB 1443

Relating to the academic costs charged to resident undergraduate students by general academic teaching institutions and certain reports regarding the operational costs of those institutions.
SB 1560
Relating to the national research university fund.


For additional information on the Legislature, click here.

Gene GreenTed PoeRoyce WestJohn WhitmoreAlma AllenCarol AlvaradoBill CallergariJessica FarrarAna HernandezChuck HopsonDora OllivoLarry PillipsRobert TaltonSenfronia Thompson Sylvester TurnerArmondo WalleBeverly WoolleyJohn Zerwas

In memoriam

Priscilla Benham (’69 M.A., History,’87 Ph.D., History), March 9, 2009

Sabra Sue Hall Gill (’63 Journalism), April 20, 2009

Michael Neel Hamrick (’74 English), March 8, 2009

Major W. Stevenson (’98 M.A., History), March 15, 2009

Gustavo Wensjoe

Gustavo Wensjoe
(’97 Ph.D., Political Science)
March 19, 2009

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The demography of sexual orientation and other issues

Amanda Baumle


Amanda Baumle is an Assistant Professor of Sociology who looks into issues involving the demography of sexual orientation, voting rights and other immigration-related issues, and gender inequality in the legal profession. She’s written and edited books, book chapters, and articles in these research areas.

She’s the author of Sex Discrimination and Law Firm Culture on the Internet: Lawyers at the ‘Information Age Water Cooler’ , which examines the use of legal discourse, by attorneys, in an Internet community as a vehicle for challenging gender discrimination. She also co-authored The Demography of Sexual Orientation, which draws on 2000 U.S. Census data to examine the manner in which sexual orientation affects a variety of demographic processes.

She received her B.A. from Southwesern University in 1997, her J.D. from the University of Texas in 2000, and her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 2005.

Click on the following topics to see her discuss her research.

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Around CLASS and Campus

UH sets up scholarship fund with $7 million anonymous gift

Dr. Renu Khator


The University of Houston is acutely aware that hardships resulting from the present financial situation challenge many students’ dreams of obtaining a university education. Unwilling to let those dreams fade, UH President Renu Khator announced this month an ambitious fundraising campaign to create hundreds of student scholarships.

The University received a $7-million gift from an anonymous donor who wanted to support promising students seeking a top-tier education at the University of Houston. Khator plans to double the initial gift with matching donations to the new UH TierOne Scholarship Fund set up with the gift.  Money generated from this endowment will fund competitive awards annually to as many as 200 top-achieving freshmen starting in fall 2010. The scholarships are intended to cover or exceed the cost of a UH TierOne Scholar’s tuition for four years. 

“This extraordinarily generous gift and the fundraising challenge allow UH to respond to a critical economic need. Just as important, it helps us make sure that the very best students have the opportunities that they deserve,” Khator said. “The UH TierOne Scholarship Fund also represents a foundation on which UH will build an increasingly impressive freshman class profile by recruiting even more students with outstanding academic track records. This fits in directly with our objective of elevating this institution to national Tier-One status. And it allows us to maintain and even improve the robust and diverse nature of our overall enrollment.”

The UH TierOne Scholar awards will be based upon both need and merit, according to John Antel, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. Creating this level of scholarship will expand access to promising students and offer them tremendous opportunities that give them an edge in our competitive global marketplace. 

“Our UH TierOne Scholars will have the funding support they need to participate directly in research projects with faculty, to study abroad and develop a global network of contacts, and to make a difference right here in Houston through innovative community service initiatives,” Antel explained.

Khator emphasized that nurturing Tier One-caliber students at UH creates a brain trust that benefits Houston now and in the future.

“These scholarships will create a legacy of excellence,” she said. “By helping the brightest minds overcome today's economic challenges, we will ensure that our students are well-prepared leaders who can help our society overcome even greater ones in the future.”

The new endowment will total $14 million when fully funded.  New scholarship gifts of $25,000 or more will be directly matched by funds from the initial gift. For more information about contributing to the UH TierOne Scholars effort, contact Spencer Yantis, Associate Vice president for University Advancement, at 713-743-8872 or by e-mail at .


March 2009

Dear Colleagues,

Hope you had a relaxing Spring Break! I know many of you had to use your time off to simply catch up with work. But I still hope that a change in routine provided you with some solace to rejuvenate your spirit. Here is a quick update on various issues that may be of relevance to you.

Economic Downturn and Fiscal Responsibility: The economic news continues to be a subject of anxiety both personally and institutionally for us. To be fiscally responsible, I have asked all presidents and vice presidents to immediately review their revenue and expenditure patterns and make appropriate adjustments. Our core mission is student success and our strategic vision is to make UH a nationally - and globally - competitive research university. We must take precautionary measures to withstand the multi-year economic downturn. We are fortunate to be in Texas and in Houston. Nonetheless, our endowment is down by more than 30 percent and we have been asked to identify a budget reduction of 2.5 percent in the current year by the Governor. All of this means that we must focus, prioritize, and change the way we spend.

The Stimulus Package and Its Relevance for UH: The Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act (or The Stimulus Package) offers three main avenues of support for universities:

  1. Direct funds to students through Pell Grant and other financial programs;

  2. Funds appropriated to federal agencies for research programs and infrastructure, including $51.5 billion from the Department of Energy, $10.4 billion from the National Institutes of Health, and $3 billion from the National Science Foundation.

  3. Funds appropriated by states through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

  4. On behalf of the University of Houston, we have identified several projects that meet the criteria for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, including the repair and renovation of existing buildings, making buildings hurricane-hardy, and the construction of research space and infrastructure on campus. Among the new projects:
    • UH Energy Research Center
    • Wind Energy Center Blade Testing Facility
    • Vision Institute Surgery and Research Center
    • Campus Utilities Infrastructure

Funds from NIH, NSF and DoE, however, are accessible only to faculty through competitive grants. I urge our faculty to work with the Office of Research to identify any and all opportunities to secure these funds to advance our research. Several members of the University of Houston System Board of Regents and I have already visited our Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., to apprise them of our research initiatives and facilities. Now, it is up to our faculty to aggressively seek this funding.

Congressional Support: We are grateful to our Congressional delegation for believing in our capabilities and helping our researchers become a stronger part of the national research agenda. The initial review of the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill shows that three UH projects received funding:

  • $2,378,750 for the National Wind Energy Center, from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy;

  • $476,750 for the Center for Clean Fuels and Power Generation, from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; and

  • $143,000 for UH cell differentiation project in the Institute for Molecular Design, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

State Legislative Session: Our Office of Governmental Relations reports that a total of 7,144 bills have been filed this year (1,244 more than last year!), of which several hundred have an impact on UH. Thanks to our collective energy and vision, nine bills have been filed to create additional top-tier universities in Texas.

Additionally, over a dozen bills have been filed to limit or reregulate the tuition-setting authority of university boards. I have testified ten times already and many more testimonies will take place before the session is over. Vice Chancellor Grover Campbell (from Austin) and Associate Vice Chancellor Barbara Stanley (from Houston) will continue to guide us and our involvement during the legislative session. The Faculty Senate has a committee that can help guide our faculty's participation in the process. Be reminded, however, that as a state employee (this applies to both faculty and staff), any contact you make with your legislator must be done on your own time and using your own computer or phone.

It is time for us to make our case and prove that as a top-tier university, we can serve the city, the region, and the state better. Here are the guidelines for communicating with legislators.

Transportation: As you may have already read elsewhere, METRO will bring its Southeast Line to the UH campus by 2011 or 2012. Negotiations on the University Line are continuing.

Tuition and Fees: All university chancellors have appealed to the Texas Legislature to fund us fully based on the funding formula so that tuition can remain constant during these tough economic times. Members of our legislative delegation understand the connection between state funding and tuition increases. Meanwhile, the report from our Tuition and Fee Committee, which recommends a range of increase of 0 percent to 5 percent depending on state funding, has been posted.

Tuition and Fee Committee recommendation

Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee recommendation

UH System: For us to serve our region fully, it is essential that all universities work together and complement one another. Under the direction of our other three presidents, Provost John Antel, and Associate Vice Chancellor Ed Hugetz, a system-wide Enrollment Management Plan is in development. A central part of this plan will be pathways for students and faculty to move seamlessly within the System, thus adding value to the System. Within the next few years, we hope to serve a larger - and more diverse - share of the regional student population, while simultaneously increasing the national competitiveness of the University of Houston in terms of faculty, students, and research.

Strategic Plan: The Strategic Action Group (SAG) has been hard at work in preparing the first draft of our strategic plan. This plan will lead UH to become a top-tier university that provides a top-tier learning environment to our students and is relevant to our community. Athletics competitiveness is one of the six UH goals, just as is the goal of raising sufficient resources to accomplish our task. A summary of the draft was presented at the UH Spring Faculty Assembly by the chairs of the six committees working on the plan. In April, SAG will hold several town hall meetings and I hope to see you there for your invaluable input.

The Cougar Spirit: In the big scheme of things, it may seem mundane, but expressing our pride plays a significant role in advancing us forward. I am calling for our alumni, wherever they live and work, to begin Red Fridays (to wear red on Fridays). May I ask you to be part of the Red Friday Campaign as well? Your pride will be contagious to students and alumni alike.

I wish you continued success in all you do - in the classroom, in the research labs, and in our front-line and administrative offices. Your dedication and work continues to march us towards excellence. Everywhere I go, I meet our proud graduates who never fail to tell me how much they appreciate their education.

Warm regards,

Renu Khator
President, University of Houston

Don’t tell anyone, but . . .

logo School of Communications

Shhh! We’re revealing the best-kept secret at UH.

No longer will people wonder, “Which building is the Communication Building?”

Everyone is invited as the folks at the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication install the new name of the school on their building, Tuesday, April 28, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Free food, beverages and prizes (while supplies last) and some music to mark the occasion.

Dean search committee announced

John Antel, former CLASS Dean and now Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, has announced the members of the CLASS Dean Search Committee:

Chair: Cynthia Freeland Professor, Philosophy
Members: James Conyers Director, African-American Studies
  Karen Farber Director, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts
  Julia Hannay  Professor, Psychology
  Robert McPherson Associate Dean, College of Education
  William Monroe Dean, The Honors College
  Beth Olson Director, Valenti School of Communications
  David Papell Chair, Economics
  Guadalupe San Miguel Professor, History
  David Ashley White Director, Moores School of Music
Staff Officer: David Bell Assistant Vice President for Academic and Faculty Affairs

Center for Immigration Research Speaker Series

“Are Immigrants Good Americans?”

That’s the topic for the Center for Immigration Research Speaker Series, Friday, April 24 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. in The Honors College Commons at the M.D. Anderson Library. Rice University professors Elaine Ecklund and Michael Emerson will speak.

Religion is an important part of the immigrant experience, and a central motivator of civic participation in the United States. Little is known, however, about whether religious participation strengthens the ability of new immigrants to contribute to American civic and political institutions. Scholars of immigrant religion focus mainly on the benefits religious communities provide to immigrants, while neglecting the ways religion might help immigrants focus on helping those outside their own ethnic communities. The speakers examine how various forms of religion and spirituality influence immigrant civic participation, such as voluntary association membership, community service, political participation, and various forms of collective action, along with how religion and spirituality help shape civic identities.

Masters Art

The School of Art Masters Thesis Exhibition runs from through April 25 at Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston.

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.

Harper Dennis Harper’s installation seduces us with its nostalgic, corrupted love story using familiar emblems of music and lust. Zwicky Zack Zwicky has created a digital Wunderkammer as a metaphor for our compartmentalized and subjective habits of thinking.
Sloan Emily Sloan’s personal snow globes capture elusive dreamlike scenes, awakening a childlike wonder. Bender In contrast, Joel A. Bender Jr. attempts to break out of the confines of his past by destroying and compacting objects taken from spaces that have been significant to him such as his bedroom and his studio.
Ramos Other artists reflect on the natural world as a site for self-discovery. Cheyenne Ramos’s landscapes and portraits are informed by historical painting tradition but speak to contemporary alienation and disjunction. Cliburn Kristen Cliburn looks to the sky as inspiration for her small airbrushed
canvases, which succeed in conveying a contemplative vastness with their
subtle shifts in color and tone.
Gomez Norberto Gomez Jr.’s self-portraits exult in his own physicality and serve as an allegory for the struggles raging inside him. Brims Like nature and the quotidian, our culture and family bonds have a profound influence on our identity and how we communicate with others. Michael Brims’ videos meditate on self-definition using themes of nationalism and abstract Jungian symbols.
Alsalman Noora Alsalman has created a new set of emblems for her native country, Iraq, that reflect the population’s ethnic diversity. Ledvina Cody Ledvina takes a wry outsider’s perspective on the absurdities of the popular culture around him.
Medellin Samantha Medellin hangs large links in the gallery as objects for her primary audience—her immediate family—to interact with. Wall The darker side of dysfunctional family life is a theme in Richard Wall’s photographs, which show disquieting images inspired by his childhood, his travels with his alcoholic father, and the suburban sprawl encroaching on the forest around his current family home.

The 2009 School of Art Masters Thesis Exhibition is made possible through the generosity of the UH Student Fees Advisory Committee.

School of Theatre & Dance logo

Utaka Peak

Screen shot

OK, that’s one of our favorite puns from one of those Saturday morning cartoon shows written more for adults than for children. But this has nothing to do with puns or cartoons. It was a cleverly diabolical way to get you to read this segment and take a peek at the YouTube video produced by the folks at the School of Theatre and Dance for the recent production, Buy One, Get Five Free, that ran April 3-19 at the Jose Quintero Theatre in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts building.

Click on the image and see what you missed, or didn’t.

Coming productions

Still ahead for the rest of the 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.

April 24-26

Dance aficionados look forward to this annual show. Choreography by UH Dance faculty and guest artists Amy Ell, Lori Amare, Jocelyn Thomas, and Lauren Garson.
Performed by the UH Dance Ensemble and guest company, The Houston Met Too! For tickets call 713-743-2929.

Wortham Theatre, in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Performing Arts
$15 general public
$10 students, seniors

Shakespeare on the Green
April 24-26

Performed at Discovery Green in downtown Houston – FREE
Two shortened versions of some of the Bard’s best plays.

As You Like It, directed by MFA Director Jonathan Gonzalez
April 24 at 7:30 pm
April 26 at 5:00 pm

Macbeth, directed by MFA Director Samuel Sparks
April 25 at 7:30pm
April 26 at 1:00 pm

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 Distinguished Lecturer Mark Medoff, and present them during intimate readings.

Operas and International Piano Festival headline Moores dates

MSM logo

Spring at the Rebecca and John J. Moores School of Music brings a spectacular line up for our enjoyment.

The Edythe Bates Old/Moores Opera Center becomes the first university company to produce Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath (April 3-6). Other memorable Houston premieres included Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, Weber’s Der Freischütz, Barber’s Vanessa, Massenet’s Chérubin, Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims, and Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. See calendar below for dates and other information.

Moores closes its spectacular season with our Symphony and combined Choruses performing Verdi’s Requiem under the direction of distinguished conductor Murray Sidlin.  In addition to these events, our ensembles, faculty and guest performances, and master classes round out a vibrant and dynamic 2009!

Tickets and Information: 713-743-3313

Box Office hours: Monday - Friday, 9 am - 4 pm
Box Office personnel will confirm phone orders for tickets during business hours only.
Click here for updated information

For all concert information and box office rules, please visit the MSM website!


Monday, April 20, 7:30 pm  $10/5
Muses and the Mythic
Jennifer Keeney, flute
Sonja Bruzauskas,* mezzo-soprano 
Anita Kruse,* piano 
Works by Mozart, Debussy, Gluck, and the premiere of Musaic by Paul English
Dudley Recital Hall

Wednesday, April 22, 7:30 pm  $10/5

Jon Faddis,* trumpet
Noe Marmoleo, director
Ryan Gabbart, assistant director

Friday, April 24, 7:30 pm $10/5
David Bertman, director
Kenneth Goldsmith,* violin
Works by Gottschalk, Villa-Lobos, Persichetti, Berlioz, Barber, Sousa, Hindemith, Strauss

Sunday, April 26, 3 pm  $10/5
David Bertman, John Alstrin
, directors
Works by Graham, Welcher, King, Wilson, Reed, Gillingham,
Camphouse, Bernstein, Chance, Grundman, Ellerby, Grainger, Sousa, Sparke

Thursday, April 30, 8 pm
Sunday, May 2, 8 pm
Monday, May 3, 8 pm

Leonard Slatkin,* conductor
Charles Hausmann, choral direction
Roberto Sierra: Missa Latina
Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana
For info: 713-224-7575


Friday, May 1, 7:30 pm RS $15/10
Verdi’s Requiem: a Defiant Requiem
Murray Sidlin,*
Franz Anton Krager, orchestral direction
Betsy Cook Weber, Richard Robbins, Justin Smith, choral direction
Cynthia Clayton, soprano
Melanie Sonnenberg, mezzo-soprano
Joseph Evans, tenor
Hector Vasquez, bass-baritone
Distinguished guest conductor Murray Sidlin leads the school’s combined forces in a moving version of the Verdi Requiem inspired by prisoners of Nazi concentration camp Terezin who gave 16 performances, singing libera me and salva me boldly and directly to their captors. Illuminated by video footage and narration by prisoners, this is, indeed, a “Defiant Requiem.”


20th Anniversary Season
Immanuel & Helen Olshan


Saturday, June 13, 7:30 pm
Franz Anton Krager, conductor
Richard Dowling, piano    
Mozart: Piano Concerto in E-flat, K. 482
Strauss: Alpine Symphony

Friday, June 19, 7:30 pm
Stephen Threlfall
, conductor
Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin
Britten: Suite on English Folk Songs

Stravinsky: Pulcinella (complete)

Saturday, June 20, 7:30 pm
Lavard Skou-Larsen, conductor
Mozart: Symphony No. 39 in E-flat, K. 543
Sibelius: Pelléas and Mélisande (excerpts)
Ibert: Divertissement

Saturday, June 27, 7:30 pm
Josep Caballé-Domenech, conductor
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist
Competition Winner, soloist
Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks
Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 3 in A minor

Saturday, July 3, 7:30 p.m.
Barry Jekowsky, conductor
Elmar Oliveira, violin
Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Barber: Violin Concerto, Op. 14
Theofanidis: Symphony (commission premiere)


Tuesdays, June 9, 16, 23 and 30, 7:30 pm
Chamber music at its best with TMF faculty artists, guests, and the TMF Jazz Project.

Classical Minds Guitar Festival and Competition

June 26 - July 2
In conjuction with the TMF. Find more information here.

More at CLASS

For more information about what’s going on at CLASS, please visit our News & Events page.

Make sure you visit the CLASS homepage for more information about our programs, students, faculty, and staff.  Missed an issue of Graffit-e?  Catch up by visiting the online archive.

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

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