Dean's Update - University of Houston
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Dean's Update

March 19, 2019

Message from the Dean 

I want to celebrate the success of the College’s recent reception to support the UH Red Dinner and LGBTQ students in need. The inaugural event, spearheaded by Jorge Gonzalez and Nathan Smith (see photo above), was a testament to our collective commitment to diversity and inclusion. We raised more than $1,500, and several other deans expressed support to help us grow the fundraiser in coming years.

Update on priority decision items:

*Professional development school: Thank you to the faculty working group for drafting a white paper on the idea. Based on the feedback, there are no immediate plans to move forward with creating a school, though I will continue to check in with the committee and leadership team to review the College’s capacity for such an endeavor.

*Teacher education/possible reorganization: The FEC plans in the near future to release the survey results related to a possible reorganization of the College.

*College name: The Strategic Plan Communications Committee will share results of the college name survey after meeting this week. The survey, which asked faculty, staff and students to rank five possible names, drew more than 1,100 responses.

Please feel free to reach out directly if you have questions, concerns or ideas about any of these items.



  • “The Future of Higher Education” conference – Thursday, March 28. 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. UH Hilton. (RSVP)
  • Diversity Institute – Friday, April 5. 9:30 a.m. Student Center South.
  • AERA Reception – Saturday, April 6 in Toronto. 6 p.m. RSVP by March 26 to Tracy Markovich.
  • Star Awards – Wednesday, April 24. 6 p.m. UH Hilton. Invite to come.
  • Spring 2019 Commencement – Thursday, May 9. 6 p.m. Fertitta Center.
    • Faculty: Please let Paula Canada know by March 25 if you need to rent regalia and if you’ll be attending.

Chat with the Dean

Staff Stop and Share (Farish 214)

  • March 25, 3-4 p.m.
  • May 16, 10-11 a.m.

Faculty Stop and Share (Farish 214)

  • March 26, 10-11 a.m.
  • April 24, 2-3 p.m.


Curriculum & Instruction


  • Associate Professor Conra Gist has won the 2019 AERA Division K (Teaching and Teacher Education) Early Career Award.
  • Clinical Assistant Professor Edna Velásquez published an article, “The Effect of Discipline-Related Knowledge on Heritage Language Learners’ Reading Comprehension,” in the Athens Journal of Education.
  • Clinical Professor Jahnette Wilson and Associate Dean Sesa Edgar presented on connecting theory and practice for preservice teaching students at the Association for Teacher Education and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education conferences.

Educational Leadership & Policy Studies


  • Assistant Professor Detra Johnson has won a social justice award and Professor Yali Zou has won a narrative research outstanding publication award from AERA.
  • Assistant Professors Ruth M. López and Vincent Carales are hosting a free screening of “Stolen Education,” a documentary about school desegregation, on March 21. (The event is at capacity based on RSVPs.)

Psychological, Health & Learning Sciences


Grant Awarded

  • Associate Professor Nikki Coleman and Assistant Professor Chakema Carmack received an internal stimulus grant for $9,890 from the UH Women of Color Coalition for a project on social networking and STIs.


  • Nikki Coleman, “The relation of Black-oriented reality television consumption and perceived realism to the endorsement of stereotypes of Black women” (accepted). Journal of Psychology of Popular Media.
  • Lorraine Reitzel, “Fruit and vegetable consumption and emotional distress tolerance as potential links between food insecurity and poor physical and mental health among homeless adults” (in press). Preventive Medicine Reports.
  • Rosenda Murillo, “The association between seeing people walk and neighborhood social cohesion” (in press). Health Behavior and Policy Review.
  • Rosenda Murillo, “The double burden of food insecurity and obesity among Latino youth: Understanding the role of generational status” (in press). Pediatric Obesity.

Book Chapters

  • Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, “Issues in assessing young gamers’ engineering problem solving using interactive simulation games” (accepted). Using cognitive and affective metrics in education-based simulations and games, Volume II.
  • Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, “Concept-based teaching in dual language science classrooms: Using oral language routines to develop scientific descriptions and arguments” (in press). Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners and STEAM: Teachers and Researchers Working in Partnership to Build a Better Path Forward.

Honors and Awards

  • Clinical Assistant Professor Kayce Solari Williams won the UH Center for Fraternity & Sorority Life Faculty Advisor of the Year Award. As part of Women’s History Month, she also was honored by Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH) and KMAZ 102.5 FM for her “conscience efforts to become a way-maker and productive community partner in Houston.”


  • Our advising team has been busy supporting UH undergraduate recruiting efforts, attending various events such as Honors recruitment and three “Scarlet Night” events focused on underserved populations. We’ve also had student representatives join us. Please reach out if you have questions.


  • Spring 2019 thesis and dissertation deadlines:
    • Final defense deadline – April 19
    • Final draft review deadline – May 3
    • Official closing – May 9
    • Electronic uploads deadline and faculty grading deadline – May 13
  • Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week takes places April 1-5. Please email Ericka Mellon if you’d like to publicly give kudos to any students.
  • Our Grad News student newsletter for spring will publish next week. Please submit news and kudos to Bernice Roberts by tomorrow, March 20.
  • Jennifer Hay is working to confirm her local recruitment schedule for spring and summer. If you’re planning to attend professional conferences and meetings or host program information sessions, she is happy to help promote and/or provide you with swag. She also is available for meetings to brainstorm and strategize recruitment activities for next school year.


Britney IknerWhen she advises students in the Office of Graduate Studies, Britney Ikner can share her success story – she graduated with an M.Ed. in higher education from the College in December. More from Ikner:

Q: What is the most exciting thing about your job?

A: The most exciting part about my job is meeting my students face to face and engaging with them via phone or through email. I enjoy building those relationships. 

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: Right now I am planning my wedding. But normally I like to volunteer, dance, read and spend as much time with my family as I can.

Q: Other tidbits you want to share?

A: I received my undergraduate degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in child and family development with a minor in dance. Everyone – students, faculty and other staff members – knows that I love Wonder Woman and am not shy about it at all! I have four dogs (a Siberian Husky, a German Shepherd and their two daughters). My nickname is 25 tabs. I am a serial multitasker. I can’t sit still.

Read the full Q&A.



  • Friendly reminder: Supervisors must set employees’ ePerformance criteria by April 1.

Faculty Executive Committee

  • FEC will release survey results regarding a possible College reorganization and on associate dean reviews shortly.
  • Please join us at the end-of-year faculty meeting April 12, 1:30-3 p.m., in the KIVA.

Staff Council

  • We are continuing to accept donations in Farish 160 for Covenant House Texas, a shelter for homeless teens. We will accept new/unused clothing, toiletries, non-perishable foods, books and other items. Cash donations may be made (give to Tracy Markovich in Farish 214).


Dean’s Update typically publishes on the second Tuesday of each month.

Prior newsletters are archived on the College website.



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