Administration and Finance Focus



If disaster strikes, you want a strong leader to step up and take control. University of Houston is in good hands with its new Director of Emergency Management, Joe S. Mendez. This New Mexico native has a strong background in keeping a cool head in a crisis and training others to be prepared and follow his lead.

Mendez joined the UH family on February 28, 2011 as a member of the University of Houston�s Department of Public Safety. In his position, Mendez will be in charge of coordinating emergency protocols within the UH system, ranging from situations during special events to large disasters such as a hurricane.

�What we�re trying to do today on campus is educate all our stakeholders, faculty and staff and our students on how to be better prepared,� Mendez said.

Mendez is currently developing a presentation that will be given to various departments on campus in order to explain the university�s plan during a crisis and to guide each department on their role in the case of an incident.

�The challenge is bringing people together,� he said. �The first thing I need to do is make sure all the players understand that we work together. We have to work together and know what we all do when an incident or emergency occurs.�

Mendez has an extensive background that has prepared him for his role at UH in managing crisis situations. He will receive his Master of Science in Leadership with Emphasis on Preparedness and Crisis Management from University of Grand Canyon in Phoenix in May 2011. He already holds a B.A. in Academic Studies from Western New Mexico University and a M.P.A. from City University of New York, Baruch College. He was awarded a fellowship from the National Urban and Rural Fellows in 1995-97.

Back in his home state of New Mexico, Mendez served as a police officer for around fifteen years and received recognition for his service. In 1989, he was given the Distinguished Unselfish Police Service Award. He was also recognized in 1995 by the American Police Hall of Fame for Outstanding Commendation Award. After his service as a police officer, Mendez moved on to do community coalition grants in Washington, DC and then returned to New Mexico to work for the Department of Education for eight years.

During his time with the Department of Education, Mendez implemented the first state-wide Safe School Plan that is still used by all the schools in New Mexico today. He worked his way up in the agency to eventually become the Bureau Chief of School Transportation.

�I think staying there and getting promoted through the ranks, it makes me proud. I earned that,� he said.

Mendez left his home state and the Department of Education to join the UH family and help our community be ready when crisis strikes. His wife, Eva, is currently a schoolteacher in New Mexico and plans to retire to join him in Texas. They have two sons, both standing 6 foot 5 inches tall. Julian, 29, is a communications major in Albuquerque, N.M. Richard, 19, studies fire administration and homeland security at New Mexico State.

Mendez said he is very excited about his new home and new job in Houston. He said he has found great leaders with a dedication to the university in Dr. Carl Carlucci and Chief Malcolm Davis.

�They have a great grasp of the concept and understand what we need to do,� Mendez said. �I really appreciate their support.�

For more information about emergency services at the University of Houston, visit the Department of Public Safety at