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UH System Highlights August 2011

President - Renu Khator

University of Houston


The University of Houston is one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to a new survey by The Chronicle of  higher Education. The results are based on a survey of nearly 44,000 employees at 310 colleges and universities. UH joins 84 other four-year institutions and 26 two-year institutions on the annual list, which recognizes the best practices of elite groups of colleges based on enrollment size. UH received recognition among large universities for its policies in diversity, collaborative governance, teaching environment, and respect and appreciation. UH also has been ranked among the best schools in the nation in Forbes’ annual ranking of top colleges. UH is listed 543 overall, 196 among research universities and 155 in the South.

Ron Klinger

University of Houston - Clear Lake


Ron Klinger, associate director of organizational development, was awarded the 2011 Hugh P. Avery Prize – The President’s Distinguished Staff Service Award during the annual Faculty and Staff Awards Luncheon. The award is the highest honor bestowed on university staff.

Damaris Cortez

University of Houston - Downtown


Student Damaris Cortez has received the National Association of Social Workers/Texas Undergraduate Social Work 2011 Student of the Year Award for the state. The recipient must demonstrate leadership and a commitment to social justice, the social work profession, his or her clients and to the integration of social work knowledge, skills, attitudes and values. Cortez received the group’s Houston Area Award last March. Cortez also received the UHD Bachelor of Social Work Program Community Action Award in 2011.

Philip Castille

University of Houston - Victoria


Philip Castille was named the sole finalist for the presidency of the University of Houston- Victoria. Castille previously held the position of special assistant to the chancellor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and served as professor of English at the University of Houston-Downtown from 1981 to 1994. Castille has held positions at Tulane University, the University of Memphis, Louisiana Tech University and Eastern Washington University, where he was the founding dean of the College of Arts & Letters.

University of HoustonThe University of Houston

UH has signed a Memoranda of Understanding with Vilnius University, Kaunas Medical University/Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. Under the agreement, UH will collaborate and develop new ideas and student and faculty exchanges, especially in the area of life science, with the two institutions.

Houston Endowment Inc. has awarded $5 million to UH, which it will use to help increase the number of doctoral students it graduates annually. The grant money will strengthen doctoral programs in departments where additional funding will have the greatest impact on Ph.D. production and research. Those departments are chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, civil engineering, economics, psychology, creative writing, biology and biochemistry, chemistry, Earth and atmospheric science, pharmaceutics, health and human performance, and biomedical engineering.

UH has received a $1.2 million grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to help design the next generation of technologies for the alternative energy industry. In all, the ONR awarded a total of $1.5 million to UH, the Naval Research Laboratory and the University of New Mexico to develop new thin-film solar cells, thin-film batteries and nanosensors for wind turbine blades. Physics professor Seamus “Shay” Curran, director of UH’s Institute for NanoEnergy, is the lead researcher on the UH project.

UH topped a number of nationally competitive schools to win The Associated Press Top 25 Gowalla Check-in Challenge. The victory resulted in a $10,000 donation to the university’s Cougar Community TierOne Endowment fund, courtesy of Gowalla, an Austin-based company. Social media coordinator Jessica Brand spearheaded UH’s participation.


Peter Hoffman, Newell H. Blakely Chair in Evidence and professor of law, is the recipient of a Fulbright Specialist grant in law. He will consult on legal education with officials at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, India. This is his second Fulbright Specialist grant.

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors has appointed President Renu Khator to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas board of directors. She will serve an unexpired portion of a three-year term ending Dec. 31. She is eligible for reappointment to a full term at the conclusion of the unexpired term.

Architecture professor EunSook Kwon was named as one of the nation’s most admired educators by DesignIntelligence.

Stuart Long, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Cullen College of Engineering, has been named a life fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Long is also interim vice chancellor/vice president for research and technology transfer as well as associate dean of undergraduate research and the Honors College.

The Training and Genetics of the Exercise response Study was recently renewed by the National Institutes of Health for an additional funding of more than $3.5 million for five years. The study is designed to examine the interaction between obesity, exercise and genetics. Health and human performance faculty members Brian McFarlin, Daniel O’Connor and Tony Jackson will collaborate with principal investigator Molly Bray at The University of Alabama at Birmingham to conduct the study.

Michael A. Olivas, William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law and director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance, has been named the 2010 Immigration Professor of the Year by the ImmigrationProf Blog.

Gordon L. Paul, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair and professor of clinical psychology, received the Texas Psychological Association 2010 Outstanding Contribution to Science Award.

Badrinath Roysam, chair of the department of electrical and computer engineering and Hugh and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor, received a three-year, $5.4 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Roysam is leading a multi-institution team effort to identify the combination of factors that cause neural implants to fail.

Earl L. Smith III, dean of the College of Optometry and Greeman-Petty Professor, is the 2010 recipient of the Charles F. Prentice Medal Award from the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). The honor is awarded annually to an outstanding scientist who has contributed significantly to the advancement of knowledge through research in the visual sciences and is the highest distinction given by the AAO. Peter Vekilov, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Civil engineering professor Cumaraswamy Vipulanandan was named a recipient of The Underground Construction Technology Association 2011 Most Valuable Professional Award for his outstanding contributions in education and research related to underground infrastructure construction and maintenance. Richard C. Willson, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and biochemical and biophysical sciences, has been named a 2010 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Head softball coach Kyla Holas is among the eight inductees voted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Donnie Rowell, maintenance chief at the Hilton University of Houston Hotel, received the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston Operations Award. This honor is given to a hospitality employee whose job dedication is especially noteworthy.


Business students Spencer Allen, Rebekah Elliott, Pilar Fanaselle and Jessica McBride recently placed second in a national corporate responsibility sales competition held by 3M in St. Paul, Minn. Maria Cano and Yuliana Medina, social work students, received the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Bilingual Scholarship.

Hilton College students Daniel C. Green, Kendra McDaniel and Emily Paez received Outstanding Lodging Student Awards from the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston. Architecture and the School of Art’s Graphic Communications Program students received the Mayor’s Proud Partner Award from the Keep Houston Beautiful organization. Led by architecture professor Patrick Peters and graphic communications professor Cheryl Beckett, the students helped change the face of Japhet Creek through the project “Dis(solve): Natural Signs.” Using biodegradable and recyclable materials, students designed and fabricated signs, benches and other amenities for the natural refuge.

University of Houston - Clear LakeUniversity of Houston - Clear Lake

Houston Endowment Inc. awarded UHCL $400,000 over three years for its arts audience development initiative. The initiative is intended to expand the reach of UHCL’s art programming across the Bay Area and beyond.

Delegates from China Three Gorges University in the Hubei Province of China signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow students to begin their degrees at that university and then transfer to UHCL to complete their degrees.

The Brown Foundation awarded UHCL’s Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities an $81,344 grant to fund the purchase and installation of a sensory playground.

UHCL has been designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities. The HSI designation means that Hispanic students at UHCL make up 25 percent or more of the university’s undergraduate enrollment.

The Clear Creek Education Foundation presented the 2010 George B. Carlisle Award to President William A. Staples.


Suzy Domingo (’00) was named executive director of Interfaith Caring Ministries.

Alan E. George (’94) was appointed CEO of Palestine Regional Medical Center and Palestine Regional Rehabilitation Hospital in Palestine.

Edwin Kenneth Hutchenrider Jr. (’90) was named president of Methodist Richardson Medical Center in Richardson.

Nancy Hutchinson (’82) was named Classroom Teacher of the Year by the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children and Teacher of the Year by the Gulf Coast Association for the Education of Young Children. Hutchinson works at the San Jacinto College South Children’s Center.


Jennifer Fritz, assistant professor of psychology, received a $37,780 award from Pearland Independent School District for her proposal “Graduate Assistantships for Student Behavioral Services.”

Dorothea Lerman, professor of psychology and director of the UHCL Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, received a $96,000 grant award from the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County for “Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.” She also received a $42,180 continuation grant from Pasadena Independent School District and a $28,120 continuation grant from Clear Creek Independent School District for “Graduate Assistantships for Student Behavioral Services.” In addition, she received two new $14,060 grants from The Village Learning Center and Texana Center for the graduate assistantships program.

Jack Lu, program chair and professor of chemistry, received a $35,000 continuation award from The Welch Foundation for his proposal “Chemistry Departmental Research Grant.”


Susanne Clark, senior business coordinator for the School of Human Sciences and Humanities, received the Educational Support Association Supervisor of the Year Award. Dion McInnis, associate vice president for university advancement, was named president of The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake for 2011.


The Association of Business and Professional Women awarded the Rosemary Pledger and Carrie Lee Warren Scholarships in November. Leila Pequeno and Christine Drummond were each awarded the Rosemary Pledger Scholarship, and Janet White was awarded the Carrie Lee Warren Scholarship. Both scholarships are named for former university women role models at UHCL.

University of Houston - DowntownUniversity of Houston - Downtown


Angela Petitt, (’98) was recently inducted into the 2009 Willowridge High School Wall of Honor. The award recognizes and honors Willowridge’s outstanding academic and athletic graduates, whose meritorious roles in public and/or private life after high school have brought positive credit and honor to the school. Jorge Ocampo Jr. (’06) received the Alief Independent School District Area Aiming High Award for his commitment


Lisa D. Morano, associate professor of Natural Sciences, received a $247,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture for her proposal “Rocks to Wine: Connecting Urban Education and Research with the Texas Wine Industry.” The Alley Theatre’s annual production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” featured two UHD faculty members. David Raineyplayed Mrs. Dilber and Marley's Ghost, while adjunct professor John Johnston played Mr. Topper and ghostly apparition.


Staff service award recipients at UHD this year were Brenetta Brooks, college business administrator 1, 20 years service; William Robinson, training support specialist 3, 10 years; Sam Lai, testing specialist 2, 5 years; David Bradley, vice president for administration and finance, 25 years, and Myrtie Groves, testing assistant, 15 years.


Phi Kappa Phi, the international honor society, initiated 52 student-scholars fall semester.

The Club Powerlifting Team set one world record, eight national records and seven state records at the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (WABDL) World Bench Press and Deadlift Championships in Las Vegas. Linda Okoro set the junior world record in the junior 148-pound weight category with a lift of 463.8 pounds. In the overall competition, the team finished eighth for the second year in a row. John Hudson is the team’s coach and assistant professor of English.

University of Houston - VictoriaUniversity of Houston - Victoria

The School of Business Administration was ranked No. 3 in the nation for opportunities for minority students and was named one of the nation’s top 300 business schools overall by The Princeton Review.

H-E-B, through its Tournament of Champions community investment program, donated $25,000 for the UHV Degree


David and Tammy Murphy (’94 and ’95) were presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award.


“Port of Victoria” is the first book published by UHV’s University Press of Victoria. The book looks at the history of area waterways and the evolution of getting the Port of Victoria established. University Press of Victoria is headed up by faculty members Charles Alcorn III and Kyle Schlesinger, along with Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences.

Shainy Varghese, assistant professor of nursing, gave the presentation “Telehealth: A Changing Mode of Health Care Delivery” at the National Association of Indian Nurses of America Conference in Houston. She also published a scholarly article in the November edition of Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America, a quarterly industry journal.

Kyle Schlesinger, assistant professor in the publishing program who specializes in communication design, curated a museum exhibit highlighting the connection between visual and language arts. The exhibit, “Poems and Pictures: A Renaissance in the Art of the Book (1946-1981),” appeared at the Center for Book Arts in New York City and then the


Chief of staff Margaret Rice received the 2010 Education Award from the African American Chamber of Commerce of Victoria.

Michael Weston, instructional technologist, gave a presentation at the 2010 DevLearn Conference in San Francisco. The title of his presentation was “Techniques for Incorporating Mobile Devices in Online Instruction.” Selected as employees of the month for September and October, respectively, were Vicki Causey, an online support technician for the School of Business Administration and Helen Williams, a custodian.


The UHV Student Leadership Award was presented to Courtney Pettit, captain of the Jaguars softball team and a senator at-large on the UHV Student Senate. Last season, Pettit was selected to the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Southwest Regional first team and the Association of Independent Institutions All-Conference Team. Eight school psychology graduate students made three presentations at the Texas Association of School Psychologists Convention. The students were Thelissa Edwards, Jenae Walker, Laura Murphy, Jennifer Escobedo, Rachel Ntege, Courtney Suarez, Aimee Arnold and Stacey Presley. Anitra Shelton-Quinn, assistant professor and school psychology program director, and Trina Gordon, training director of the counseling psychology program, also gave a presentation about writing school-based psychological reports. Defender Lenox Evans and goalkeeper Sarah Saldivar were selected for the 2010 Association of Independent Institutions all-conference soccer teams.