Presidential politics was the talk of the UH campus and CLASS helped to lead the conversation

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences faculty were in the national spotlight in the days leading up to the Republican Presidential Candidates debate on the University of Houston campus on February 25 and the Super Tuesday primary in Texas on March 1.

CLASS presented with the UH Law Center a presidential politics symposium on February 23, featuring the expertise of political science, economics and law professors.

And on the day of the debate, CLASS hosted a number of events in conjunction with the nationally televised broadcast to spotlight our faculty’s expertise and enhance our students’ education through this unique opportunity.

“The panel discussions we organized allowed us to showcase our faculty’s grasp of the issues the presidential candidates are debating,” said Steven G. Craig, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “The Republicans being on campus gave our political science faculty a chance to show their broad ranging expertise as they handled a multiplicity of national and international media inquiries. Our communication faculty and students also had useful interactions with the national media and gained experienced with handling large public media events.”

Super Tuesday Panel Discussion

On Feb. 23, CLASS hosted its own Super Tuesday event in partnership with the UH Law Center. “Analyzing the 2016 Presidential Election” was a panel discussion that covered the topics of presidential politics & policy, presidential elections & Latino politics in the U.S., and Supreme Court & economic implications of presidential elections.

The event was live streamed on the CLASS website and a video of the event is still available for viewing at

CLASS faculty members participating in the discussions were, Steven Craig, Interim Dean of CLASS; Political Science faculty members Jason Casellas, Jeronimo Cortina, Richard Murray, Brandon Rottinghaus and Elizabeth Simas; and Economics faculty member Vikram Maheshri.

A conversation with Anderson Cooper

A conversation with Anderson Cooper

Just a few hours prior to the Feb. 25 debate, CNN’s Anderson Cooper spent time with UH students discussing everything from politics to how he got his start in journalism to his mother Gloria Vanderbilt’s fashion advice.

Dr. Temple Northup, director of the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and four Valenti students majoring in journalism sat on stage at the Student Center Theater alongside Cooper and interviewed him on a variety of topics. The students also solicited career advice from the veteran newsman. Additionally, Anderson took several questions from the audience.

Alexandra Doyle, a senior communication major who is specializing in print journalism, had the opportunity to ask Cooper questions while seated next to him on stage.

“I was really happy that the Republican debate activities included some programming like this for students, because a crucial part of the university is integrating outside events with the education of its students.

“It was a bit nerve-racking to interview a media all-star like Cooper, but I felt that all of the prepared questions and audience questions alike perfectly showcased the high academic and professional standards that the University of Houston fosters in its students,” she says.

Valenti Voices

Valenti Voices broadcast

The debate was held in the Moores Opera House, but there wasn’t space for everyone in the UH community to attend. To increase the amount of on-campus engagement during the debate, the Valenti School of Communication live broadcasted Valenti Voices: The Debate at UH. Emceed by communication majors, this educational experience took place in the school’s Computer Technology Center and featured interviews with students and faculty during the debate’s commercial breaks. Simultaneously, a large group of student live-tweeters offered commentary and insights throughout the event and another group of students posed questions on an interactive poll.

Valenti Voices was broadcasted on an exclusive campus feed to the student debate watch party which was held in the student center. In addition, people could watch the broadcast online via a YouTube livestream.

“By providing our students with the opportunity to live tweet an actual event, create instant polls, and live stream during the commercial breaks, students had a taste of the real world. Such experiences are a cornerstone of being a Valenti student,” says Northup.

Students gain real world experience

3 Valenti students with Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart

Three Valenti students appeared with Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart during the network’s programming to weigh in on the topic of immigration reform. Journalism majors Gabriela Peraza and Juan Méndez and public relations major MariJose Flores offered insights into what they and others of their generation want to see the United States accomplish on important issues such as immigration, the Hispanic vote, job opportunities, foreign policy, and education.

Additionally, a handful of students from the Valenti School of Communication attended the Telemundo mock-rehearsal. These students were stand-ins in for the GOP candidates as Telemundo’s team prepared for their station’s debate coverage. Afterwards, they had the opportunity to speak with Telemundo reporter Neida Sandoval.

During the debate, a Google Spin Room and Media Filing Center were housed in the Yeoman Fieldhouse for members of the media to use as a ‘home base’ while covering the debate for their outlets. Twelve Valenti students had the opportunity to tour the innovative space and watch journalists in action.

Texas 2016 Primary Elections 101

The Hobby Center for Public Policy launched the Texas 2016 Primary Elections 101 web site to provide background information on the Texas primary on March 1 and its importance to the competitions for the U.S. presidency, U.S. Congressional seats and state and local offices.

“For the first time in several presidential election cycles, the Texas primary will feature competitive battles for both the Democratic and Republican Party nominations,” the Web site stated.

And, indeed, it did.