News & Events

Dean Roberts and the Department of English Recognize 5 Retiring Faculty

Department of English honors five retirees. At a reception hosted by Department Chair Wyman Herendeen and his wife Mary, over seventy faculty colleagues, staff, and friends gathered to honor Professors Dorothy Baker, James Cleghorn, Terrell Dixon, James Pickering, and Linda Westervelt for their collective 167 years of teaching, research, and service at the University. Dean Roberts presented the new retirees with a signed copy of his letter nominating them for appointment as Professor Emeritus or Emerita. In his remarks, Wyman Herendeen pointed to our colleagues' exceptional contributions to the Department as scholars, teachers, and academic leaders, saying that they represent a "faculty in which stars are team players .... a precious spirit to preserve: they represent a culture that should never be lost or forgotten." Please visit our slide show of the presentations.

Professor Dorothy Baker

(College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences)

Professor Dorothy Baker

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the Department of English support the nomination of Professor Dorothy Baker for appointment as Professor Emeritus at the University of Houston.

Dr. Baker joined the University of Houston in 1989. She received her B.A. from Wells College; M.A., from the University of Wisconsin; and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.

Professor Baker has contributed to the excellence of our undergraduate and graduate programs through an exemplary balance of outstanding teaching, nationally recognized scholarly publications, and administrative and program leadership. Her five books illustrate the wide range of scholarly interests, including early American gothic fiction, poetry and poetics, as well as the theory and practice of translation.

Dr. Baker served as Director of Graduate Studies. She spearheaded the redesign of our doctoral programs in English, and as a translator and teacher of translation, she was instrumental in developing a newly approved graduate certificate in translation studies. Dr. Baker's commitment to the University of Houston and its mission has also manifested itself in other kinds of support, including, in conjunction with her husband, Dr. Lawrence Baker, significant gifts to the library and the creation of a new endowment to recognize excellence in peer-reviewed scholarly publication by a graduate student.

Dr. Baker will continue to be an important representative of the University of Houston and is deserving of the title Professor Emeritus.

Professor Terrell Dixon

(College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences)

Professor Terrell Dixon

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the Department of English is pleased to nominate Professor Terrell Dixon for appointment as Professor Emeritus at the University of Houston.

Professor Dixon joined the University of Houston in 1971. He earned his B.A. from the University of Oklahoma and Ph.D. from Indiana University.

From 1971 to his retirement in 2013, Dr. Dixon has been a catalyst for departmental growth and innovation, and has contributed to significant national initiatives in areas of environmental studies, ecocriticism, and regional studies. He served as Department Chair from l 980-1995. He saw the intellectual and creative synergy possible through the establishment of a creative writing program that offered a doctoral degree that combined rigorous, advanced training in both literary historical scholarship and creative writing. Working with Donald Barthelme, Dr. Dixon led the Department nationally in forming a Ph.D. in English Literature and Creative Writing that has been the model for other top-tier doctoral programs. Relatedly, it was his vision that provided the impetus for our partnerships in the community, resulting in the valued and flourishing relationship with Inprint, which has done much to support the Creative Writing Program and other literary initiatives in Houston.

Dr. Dixon has been a pioneer in the fields of ecocriticism and environmental studies. and in such seminal organizations as ACES, the premier organization for environmental studies and cocriticism. He has two current book projects, each well advanced: one on urban nature," which focuses on Houston, and the other on the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Both projects reflect the timely nature of his research and his commitment to Houston and its global interests.

Dr. Dixon's commitment to the University of Houston is complemented by other forms of generosity supporting our students. It is an honor to nominate him for Professor Emeritus.

Professor Linda Westervelt

(College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences)

Professor Linda Westervelt

It is with pleasure that the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the Department of English nominate Professor Linda Westervelt for Professor Emeritus at the University of Houston.

Professor Westervelt joined the University of Houston in 1976. She received her B.S. from Georgetown University and Ph.D. from Rice University.

Dr. Westervelt was one of our most influential and successful teachers. Dedicated to the importance of literature and literary studies, Dr. Westervelt developed a reputation as an outstanding teacher and mentor to her students. Professor Westervelt was devoted to her students at all levels, including Lower Division and Upper Division. She was a careful and effective mentor to her graduate students, a number of whom have become generous friends of the Department of English.

As a scholar Dr. Westervelt devoted the same kind of care to her writings about literature and culture. Her scholarship reflects her awareness of how literature reflects important cultural and social attitudes. Her book ''Beyond Innocence, or the Altersroman in Modem Fiction,” described by one reviewer as a “groundbreaking" study, identifies a new subgenre (the “altersroman"), which examines life-narratives surrounding the impact of aging. The new genre has become a recognized area of study in literary studies.

Professor Westervelt took her commitment to literature and literary study outside the university context, and was a longtime leader within the project known as The Common Ground, which has been an out-reach program with university faculty and secondary school teachers working together to examine the "common ground" shared by canonical and non-canonical literatures. She has carried connections formed in The Common Ground into the larger community, where she remains an active participant in various literary groups.

Dr. Westervelt is exceptionally well qualified and fully deserving of Professor Emeritus status.

Professor James Pickering

(College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences)

Professor James Pickering

It is with pleasure that the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the Department of English nominate Professor James Pickering for Professor Emeritus at the University of Houston.

Dr. Pickering joined the University of Houston in 198l. He earned his B.A. from Williams College and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. As an administrator, scholar, and teacher, Dr. Pickering has been a leader in the University and the Department of English. He served as Dean of the former College of Humanities and Fine Arts (1981-1990), Provost (l990-1992) and President (l992-1995). He served the students, faculty, and staff in many ways, worked for the fiscal and academic excellence of the university, and helped to establish the university's presence in the community. He continues to have contacts with friends of the university in and outside of Houston.

Dr. Pickering has been a valued senior colleague in the Department of English, and a model for junior faculty. He has been a prolific scholar, publishing some ten books, editing the large and much-used Fiction l 00 text that many universities have adopted, and collaborating with arts and other community organizations. Dr. Pickering is finishing his next book, and from his retirement he still assists the Department in community outreach. His new book is forthcoming in the Summer of 2013, and there will be others after it. He continues to be a valuable resource and a highly respected representative of the University in the community.

Dr. Pickering dedicated himself to the betterment of the University. In recognition of his many contributions, he is richly deserving of the title Professor Emeritus.

Professor James Cleghorn

(College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences)

Professor James Cleghorn

Professor Emeritus James Cleghorn received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, and his B.A. degree from the University of Illinois.  He joined the Department of English in 1971 and served as a popular teacher and published poet for 42 years. James Cleghorn taught creative writing in the Department even before the existence of our Creative Writing Program, helping to lay the foundation for this tier-one program.