UH Experts Availble for Hispanic Heritage Month

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month experts at the University of Houston are available to discuss a range of topics, from obesity in Hispanic children to how the Mexican migration is viewed in popular culture to Hispanic history and politics. If you are unable to reach a professor, please call 713-743-8153.


The fortunes of the United States are tied to the fortunes of the Hispanic family. Hispanics are the largest and still fastest-growing group in the U.S., representing 16 percent of the population, and expected to be nearly 20 percent by 2030 and 33 percent by 2050. While Hispanic communities possess much strength, they are disproportionately under duress. More Hispanic children live in poverty than any other group in the country. Hispanics have the highest birth rate, but less than two thirds of Hispanic children live with two married biological or adoptive parents. Strengthening the Hispanic family can help reverse these trends. Luis Torres, assistant professor in the UH Graduate College of Social Work, is co-investigator in a national implementation evaluation of grantees in the federal Hispanic Healthy Marriage Initiative, focusing on issues of cultural resonance and cultural adaptations. His work is helping uncover how Hispanic marriages and families can be strengthened through effective, culturally appropriate marriage and relationship education programs. Reach him at 713-743-8512 or lrtorres@uh.edu 


Lynn Mitchell is a professor of religious studies and the director of A.D. Bruce Religion Center at the University of Houston. He has taught an estimated 20,000 students in religious courses from an interfaith, non-sectarian perspective over a period of 35 years. Mitchell is a leading figure in religious studies and media sources on issues of religious pluralism and political ethics in America. Reach him at 713-743-3213 or lemitchell@uh.edu


Guillermo De Los Reyes is an associate professor of Latin American literature and cultural studies and serves as director for the LGBT studies minor at the University of Houston. He has written extensively on gender, sexuality and LGBT issues. His recent ethnographic work focuses on a group of gay Mexican migrants in Houston. Reach him at 713-743-3716 or jdelosreyes@uh.edu


Raúl A. Ramos is an associate professor in the department of history. He introduces a new model for the transnational history of the U.S. by placing Mexican Americans at the center of the Texas creation story in his award-winning book, “Beyond the Alamo: Forging Mexican Ethnicity in San Antonio, 1821-1861.” He frequently speaks on expanding our views of Texas and Borderlands history.  His current research spans the frontier from 19th-century Florida to early 20th-century Los Angeles, examining the ways communities reconstruct their past, even while looking to the future. Reach him at raramos@uh.edu


Christina L. Sisk is an associate professor of Latina/o cultural studies in the department of Hispanic studies. Her book, “Mexico, Nation in Transit: Contemporary Representation of Mexican Migration to the United States,” explores how Mexican migration to the United States is represented within literature, film and music produced on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Sisk can be reached at clsisk@uh.edu


Professor Michael A. Olivas is among the country’s leading authorities in the fields of immigration, higher education law and the regulation of higher education. He has written extensively in these areas, with books in each specialty, and is widely cited as an expert in the national education and immigration trade press. He litigates immigration and education cases, and his services as an expert witness are in widespread demand. He is the former General Counsel of the AAUP and immediate past president of the Association of American Law Schools. Reach him at molivas@uh.edu 


Geoffrey Hoffman, director of the UH Immigration Clinic and clinical associate professor, UH Law Center, specializes in immigration-related federal court litigation and deportation defense before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, asylum cases, adjustments and appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is available to discuss the new federal policy on deferred action for childhood arrivals. Reach him at 713-743-2094 or ghoffman@central.uh.edu


Gary Dworkin, professor of sociology, is the co-author of a race and ethnic relations book, “The Minority Report.”  He is an expert on the topic of stereotyping, how and why we stereotype people, why stereotypes stick and the effects of this stereotyping. He is president of the sociology of education of the International Sociological Association and can address the effects of standards-based school accountability system and high-stakes testing on academic achievement and dropout behavior. He published an analysis of dropouts in public education for the Southern Educational Foundation of Atlanta. Reach him at gdworkin@central.uh.edu 


Nicolás Kanellos, the Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Studies, is the founder and director of the nation’s oldest and largest, nonprofit publisher of Hispanic literature in the United States, Arte Público Press. He is also the director of a national research program, Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Heritage of the United States, which aims to identify, preserve, study and make accessible tens of thousands of Latino historical documents that were written from the colonial period to 1960 in the area that has become the United States. He is a cultural historian with numerous books and articles, including reference works on the full breadth of Hispanic contributions to the United States. He is available to comment on Hispanic culture in the U.S. Reach him at 713-743-3128 or kanellos@uh.edu


“Some of our students are immigrants who have recently arrived in the U.S. and other students are first, second and third generation Spanish-English bilinguals whose abilities in the heritage language vary widely. While some are highly proficient in Spanish, others may only possess basic speaking and listening skills, or merely understand the language,” said Marta Fairclough, associate professor of Spanish linguistics and director of the Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL) Program at UH. The main goal of the SHL Program is to develop academic language skills specifically designed for Spanish heritage students based on their level of Spanish proficiency. Fairclough’s research focuses on heritage language education, language acquisition, and sociolinguistics with an emphasis on U.S. Spanish. She has published a book titled, “Spanish and Heritage Language Education in the United States: Struggling with Hypotheticals.” Her volume, “Spanish as a Heritage Language in the United States: The State of the Field,” will be published in November 2012. Reach her at mfairclough@uh.edu


"Spanish is used by Hispanics in the U.S. mainly in its oral variety," said Manuel Gutiérrez, professor of Spanish Linguistics in the department of Hispanic studies. "As a result of this situation, proficiency in Spanish has diminished in the new generations of the Hispanic community.” Gutiérrez conducts research on the processes of language change in Spanish spoken in the United States due to its contact with English. He has published articles about the subject, as well as the book, "Ser y estar en el habla de Michoacán, México."  Reach him at mjgutierrez@uh.edu  


Norma Olvera, professor of health education in the UH College of Education and director of the BOUNCE (Behavior Opportunities Uniting Nutrition Counseling and Exercise) program, is an expert on the obesity epidemic affecting Hispanic and African-American children and their families. She designs interventions to prevent and treat obesity. Her award-winning BOUNCE healthy lifestyle programs are nationally recognized as effective obesity treatments. Reach her at 832-842-5925 or nolvera@uh.edu 


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