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U H & H OUSTON: POW ERFU L PARTNE RS
SPRING 2012 VOL.5 NO.3 PUBLISHER Karen Clarke Associate Vice President for University Relations
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF UNIVERSITY MARKETING & BRANDING John Schwartz (J.D. ’95) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS Eric Gerber (’72, M.A. ’78) DIRECTOR OF MARKETING Liz Stephens GRAPHIC DESIGNER Watson Riddle CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Richard Bonnin Marsha J. Carter Mallory Chesser (’08) Carrie Criado (J.D. ’95) Mike Emery Shawn Lindsey Lisa K. Merkl (’92, M.A. ’97) Francine Parker Marisa Ramirez (’00) Laura Tolley PHOTOGRAPHERS Thomas Campbell Thomas Shea CHANCELLOR AND PRESIDENT Renu Khator UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON SYSTEM BOARD OF REGENTS
Nelda Luce Blair (J.D. ’82), Chairman Mica Mosbacher, Vice Chair Jarvis V. Hollingsworth (J.D. ’93), Secretary Spencer D. Armour, III (’77) Nandita V. Berry (J.D. ’95) Tilman J. Fertitta Tamecia Glover Harris (Student Regent) Jacob M. Monty (J.D. ’93) Roger F. Welder Welcome W. Wilson, Jr. Send address and email updates to: University of Houston Donor and Alumni Records 306 McElhinney Hall Houston, Texas 77204-5035 www.uh.edu/magazine Send feedback to: email@example.com The University of Houston Magazine is published by the Office of University Relations.
Printed on recycled paper. The University of Houson is an EEO/AA institution. 148087 | 4.2012 | 75,000 Copyright © 2012 by the University of Houston.
10 COUGAR COMMENT Longtime UH Law Center Professor Tony Chase, newly appointed as chairman of the Greater Houston Partnership, explains why UH is vital to the city’s success.
12 UH & HOUSTON: POWERFUL PARTNERS Call it symbiosis or call it synergy, the relationship between Houston and its premiere public university has been increasingly productive for both parties.
18 CONTINUING THE GREAT CONVERSATION Jane Cizik thought intriguing dinner discussions might be a good way to raise funds for The Honors College. Two decades later, her idea is still going strong.
20 EXTRA! EXTRA! INTERNS PRESS FORWARD The Houston Chronicle has been giving young journalists from the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication an invaluable opportunity to learn by doing.
32 HOWDY, PARTNER! Among the school’s many connections to the city, few have produced as much rowdy good fun – and countless scholarships – as Rodeo Houston.
26 REACHING OUT FOR RESEARCHERS To help address the problems around us, UH commits $30 million to hire 60 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) faculty members.
34 SWEET SUCCESS IN SUGAR LAND Keeping up with Fort Bend’s phenomenal growth, UH expands the teaching center there into a full-fledged branch campus.
36 ALUMNI Q&A: WADE PHILLIPS Before becoming the Texans defensive wizard, Wade Phillips was a Cougar, earning a degree, a starting position as linebacker – and his first coaching job
I N E V E RY I S S U E 2
Insight: Board of Regents – Jarvis V. Hollingsworth
Making an Impact: UH News
New Faculty Focus – NSF CAREER Award Winners
Professors Emeriti – Barton Smith
ON OUR COVER – Alexandria Nguyen graduated from the Bauer College of Business and The Honors College in 2011. She now works at Marathon Oil.
Office of the President UH Is Helping Make Houston Great … and Vice Versa
hen I’m invited to speak to local groups, I enjoy asking the audience how many are University of Houston students or alumni. A number of hands shoot up,
Semester after semester, year after year, UH has played an essential role in shaping the city whose name we so proudly bear. We have helped produce Houston’s leaders, train an educated workforce,
To g e t h e r , U H a n d H o u s t o n a r e “ p o often making the “Go Coogs” sign. That display of Cougar spirit is wonderful to see. Then I’ll ask the remaining folks how many of them have a friend or a family member who attended UH? More hands. Then I’ll ask how many work with someone who is a Cougar? Or attended a football or basketball game or theater or music performance on campus? Took part in the annual March of Dimes walk held at UH? Perhaps attended a wedding at the Bruce Religion Center? Not surprisingly, it doesn’t take long before just about every person in the room is raising a hand. Such examples remind us just how closely our university and our community are linked.
Office of the Board of Regents Insight: A Few Minutes with … Jarvis
arvis V. Hollingsworth was appointed to the UH System Board of Regents in 2009. A partner in the Houston office of the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani, Hollingsworth is the former chairman of the board of trustees of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Prior to his legal career, he served for several years as a captain on active and reserve duty in the United States Army. Hollingsworth received his bachelor of science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point and his law degree from UH. Q: For someone unfamiliar with the position, what’s your own shorthand description of what a regent does? A: As regents, we set the strategic direction for the university, hire the Chancellor and provide oversight of all major aspects of the UH System. Q: Even though you were familiar with UH as a UH Law Center graduate, what have you learned about UH as a regent that you didn’t know before?
A: UH has historically been known more for the quality of its graduate academic programs. But what I’ve come to understand as a regent is the very high quality of our undergraduate academic programs and faculty. Because of the leadership and vision of our chancellor, there is renewed self-confidence among our undergraduate faculty, and we are all witnessing the wonderful results. Since I chair the Finance Committee of the board, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the business and financial aspects of the university. That affords me a valuable role in aligning our resources with our Tier One goals. Q: UH has made tremendous progress recently. But what does the university need to do better? A: We must continue to improve our graduation rates. We’re putting more emphasis on our undergraduate programs and we have quality professors. I think we will start to see dramatic improvements in our graduation rates and other measures of student success.
contribute to the overall cultural climate and serve as a vital component of the area’s economic engine, with a $3.5 billion annual impact. Of course, our wonderful city returns the favor immeasurably with community support, civic encouragement and philanthropic assistance. Together, UH and Houston are “powerful partners,” as this issue of The University of Houston Magazine illustrates in many ways. We strive to be the University of Houston. By that, I mean we have developed a university that meets our community’s needs and encourages its ambitions. We have expanded and improved our programs in energy, in the health sciences and in the arts because those are essential to Houston’s character and its commerce.
New Appointments ELOISE DUNN STUHR has been named vice chancellor and vice We have, for example, recently become a full member of the Texas Medical Center, opened a 75-acre Energy Research Park, acquired a second public radio operation to provide Houston with its only
w e r f u l P a rt n e r s . ” full-time classical music and arts station and risen to Tier One status. Why? In large part, it is because our community needs us to do these things. In short, UH is helping to make Houston a great city. And UH is becoming a great university in the process. We are powerful partners indeed.
Renu Khator UH System Chancellor and UH President
Q: Are you married? Family? A: I am married, and this May, my wife Andrea and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniver sary. We have a 20-year-old son, Jordan, who is a sophomore business/finance major at Morehouse College in Atlanta. We also have a 17-year-old daughter, Courtney, who is a senior at St. Agnes Academy, and our youngest daughter – Kendall – is 14 and an 8th grader at Fort Settlement Middle School. Q: You lettered in three sports in high school and, at West Point, you were co-captain of the Army football team. Has your interest in athletics continued, either as participant and/or as a spectator? A: It’s certainly continued. My son Jordan was captain of his high school football team and also ran track, so I was frequently at high school sporting events. Now that he’s away in college, I’ve filled that void with UH. I am a very big supporter of UH athletics because I think team sports provide student-athletes with invaluable experiences and skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.
president for University Advancement at the UH System and UH. Stuhr, a graduate of Vanderbilt, has been the managing director of the noted fundraising agency Grenzebach Glier & Associates and vice president of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She has also held positions at the University of Oregon, Penn State and The Ohio State University. Stuhr will conceive, launch and lead a fundraising program that supports UH’s strategic goals, including a major capital campaign, and spearhead an effort to raise $100 million or more annually. “Meaningful alumni and community engagement, along with private philanthropic partnerships, will be the hallmarks of the program as we build on the strengths of UH,” she said.
CEASER MOORE JR. has been appointed chief of police of the Department of Public Safety. He brings more than three decades of experience in law enforcement. After joining the Houston Police Department in 1984, Moore held the ranks of sergeant and lieutenant. In 2004, he was promoted to captain, supervising more than 300 HPD employees. Moore received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UH-Downtown and a master’s in criminal justice management from Sam Houston State, where he also has completed all but his dissertation (ABD) toward a Ph.D. “I’ve always had an affinity for academia and for policing. As the police chief at UH, I’m close to two things I love,” Moore said. “I hope to make our Cougar community an even safer place to work, live, study and visit.” Q: You played tenor sax in high school. Do you still play? A: I haven’t picked up my tenor sax since law school. At the UH Law Center, we had what could loosely be called a law school band, and we played at the Follies and other law school events. Q: Your demanding schedule probably leaves little time for leisure– but what do you do to relax? A: When not working or serving on a board, I’m mainly relaxing with family and friends and attending UH sporting events. I also go to both of my daughters’ school events, and try to carve out some time with my wife as well. We mostly go to dinner and movies on the weekends and also have a share of Rockets season tickets. I’m also trying to spend more time playing golf. Q: What attracted you to the Houston area originally? And why have you remained? A: While in the military, I was stationed at Fort Hood in Killeen, and we made several trips to Houston. Once I retired from the
military, we decided to move to Houston. My wife is from The Bronx, New York, and I’m from a small town, Fayette, Alabama, so Houston was a good compromise. It’s a large city, which she liked, but it’s below the Mason/Dixon line with friendly people, which I liked. It’s also a welcoming city to newcomers and even if you don’t know anyone when you get here, if you work hard, you can be successful. Not all cities are this open and entrepreneurial. Q: If you were not a lawyer, what other career would you have pursued? A: I probably would have gone to business school and become an investment banker, worked f or an investment management firm or worked in corporate America. Q: Can you share something about yourself that would probably surprise most people who know you? A: I was a member of the 1984 Army football wishbone backfield, which tied an NCAA record when all four starting backs rushed for more than 100 yards in a single game. H
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M A K I N G A N I M PA C T
NO TUITION INCREASE FOR UH UNDERGRADS Regents Vote to Keep Current Rates for Next Year
“So we took it as a challenge: Could we hold the tuition rates steady for just one year?”
approximately 2 percent. Tuition was not increased for any doctoral programs.
The UH System Board of Regents has voted to keep the current rates for the upcoming 2012 – 2013 academic year.
The Chronicle responded to the UH decision with an editorial, applauding the tuition freeze and calling it “stunning.”
The board’s decision follows the recommendation of UHS Chancellor and UH President Renu Khator, who characterized the move to keep rising college costs under control as “one element of our comprehensive strategy for student success.”
Khator said that continuing efficiencies at UH, along with diversification of revenue streams, allowed the board to provide “economic relief” for the undergraduate students by forgoing a tuition increase. She emphasized, however, that this was not being done at the expense of the overall quality of the education they are receiving. “Student success,” Khator said, “is non-negotiable.”
Beginning this fall, UH will transition to a tuition and fee structure that will simplify billing and help parents and students budget each semester. The consolidated billing structure was approved by the regents earlier this year. First-time-incollege freshmen will pay a tuition and fee rate of $280 per credit hour, regardless of major, for 12 months, and upper classmen will pay rates that are based on majors. Students also will receive more streamlined, easier-to-read bills.
uition won‘t be going up for undergraduates at UH next year.
Holding the line for undergraduate tuition at UH follows Princeton Review’s recent selection of the school as a “best value” university and U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of UH as No. 12 in the nation for graduating students with the least amount of debt. “Our students don’t want to be leaving with a huge amount of debt,” she told the Houston Chronicle.
Tuition is currently $4,844 each semester for a resident undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours. Tuition was raised for selected professional graduate programs, with increases of
“The idea behind this move is that our tuition and fee bills should be clearer,” Khator said. “Students have been asking for predictability when it comes to costs. This move will assist them as they budget and plan their semesters.” H — Eric Gerber (’72, M.A. ’78)
After exploring several options, the UH System Board of Regents has approved plans to design and construct a new football stadium at the same location where Robertson Stadium currently sits on the UH campus, alongside a newly constructed parking garage. The $105 million project will break ground immediately following the 2012 football season. The stadium will accommodate approximately 40,000, with the possibility of expanding in phases to 60,000 total seats. Specific designs are still being evaluated, and this illustration is a general rendering.
TEXAS TRIBUNE LAUNCHES CAMPUS SERIES WITH ‘ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT’ AT UH
nergy & the Environment in Texas” was the key topic at The Texas Tribune’s inaugural Festival on the Road, which was held at the University of Houston April 13.
Renu Khator started the symposium with a oneon-one discussion about UH Energy initiatives with Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune.
Several elected officials headlined the daylong event in Wortham Theater, including Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman, who talked about the state’s energy plan. State Reps. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, and Mark Strama, D-Austin, also were featured guests. Keffer chairs the Texas House Energy Resources Committee and Strama is a member. UH President
The Texas Tribune was founded in 2009 as a nonprofit and nonpartisan online news source focusing on public policy, politics and government. It can be found at http://www.texastribune.org/ . Last September in Austin, it held The Texas Tribune Festival, which featured two days of discussions on race and immigration, public and
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higher education, energy and the environment and health and human services. Khator was part of a panel on higher education. The Texas Tribune Festival on the Road at UH was the first of a series of one-day symposiums the Tribune plans to hold on Texas campuses around the state. H — Laura Tolley
SHARPER IMAGING IN GLAUCOMA MAY LEAD TO EARLIER DIAGNOSES
oping to develop a way to earlier diagnose glaucoma, vision scientist Jason Porter received a $1.85 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate whether his techniques are more effective than others in understanding the earliest changes of this potentially blinding disease. Porter uses a state-of-the-art instrument that takes sharper, higher-resolution images of the eye than current clinical instruments. The adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope, or AOSLO, device Porter uses corrects for the eye’s optical imperfections and captures highresolution movies on a cellular-level in the living eye.
“Even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, our eyes still have subtle optical imperfections, and these imperfections limit the ability of current clinical instruments to obtain high-
resolution images in the eye on a cellular-level,” Porter said. “The AOSLO uses a technology called adaptive optics to correct for these subtle imperfections, thereby improving the eye’s optical quality and allowing our instrument to capture sharp images of single cells in living eyes. This could potentially lead to more sensitive imaging techniques that may better clarify the causes of glaucoma.” The knowledge resulting from this research will enhance clinicians’ understanding of the development and progression of glaucoma and may provide earlier recognition of structural damage from the disease. The study’s findings also may result in more sensitive, improved imaging diagnostics used by optometrists and ophthalmologists to prevent vision loss by earlier detecting structural damage to the retina and optic nerve head, as well as help eye doctors to better evaluate and track the effectiveness of glaucoma treatments. H — Lisa Merkl (’92, M.A. ’97)
he University of Houston has joined an elite group of nationally respected universities as one of the nation’s “Best Value” colleges and universities, according to The Princeton Review. The University of Texas and Rice University were the only other Texas universities included in the list of the top 150 undergraduate schools.
“This news affirms that we are offering students a superior education at an affordable price,” said University of Houston President Renu Khator. The Princeton Review’s annual list singles out 75 public and 75 private universities with excellent academics, good financial aid and comparatively low cost of attendance. H — Shawn Lindsey
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M A K I N G A N I M PA C T
$1M GIFT FUNDS CAPITALISM STUDIES AT HOBBY CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY
$1 million gift from Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) to the Hobby Center for Public Policy (HCPP) at the University of Houston will make possible new programs on politics, ethics, economic literacy and social science training. The gift, to be distributed over 10 years, creates “The BB&T Program in the Ethics and Politics of Capitalism.” It will be co-directed by Jim Granato, professor and director of the HCPP, and Sue Collins,
professor and co-founder of “Phronesis: A Program of Politics and Ethics.” “Many of the pressing moral and political issues for students are economic in nature,” Granato said. “Our students need critical tools to evaluate policy issues at stake and the principles underlying and dividing them.” The program will include an upper-level elective course, “Political Economy and Ethics of the Free Market,” which Granato will teach. He also will direct an annual two-week institute in social
science methods that will bring top scholars and graduate students from other universities to work with UH faculty and students. Funds also will support undergraduate and graduate student stipends, lectures, seminars and workshops. BB&T funds similar programs at other universities, including the University of Texas at Austin, Duke University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of South Carolina, University of Maryland, Clemson and Georgetown. H —Marisa Ramirez (’00)
Say hello to Shasta VI, UH’s newest cougar… The UH Alumni Association has partnered with the Houston Zoo to have this cuddly male cub reside there as part of the cougars exhibit and serve as the university’s mascot. Although live cougars were once housed on campus, the practice was discontinued more than two decades ago. Shasta VI will always remain at the zoo, but welcomes visitors, especially those who say, “Go, Coogs!” There’s even a webcam planned. More information: www.houstonalumni.com.
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M A K I N G A N I M PA C T
‘BEING FLYNN’ BEING SEEN H
aving a “Raging Bull” in your corner helps.
Nick Flynn discovered this firsthand as he worked to adapt his award-winning 2004 memoir “Another Bull… Night in Suck City” for the screen. Flynn, a professor in the University of Houston’s noted Creative Writing Program, had seen a variety of film deals come and go. But when Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro signed on to the project, everything fell in place for Focus Features’ “Being Flynn.” The movie was released across the country on March 16. Directed by Paul Weitz, “Being Flynn” focuses on Flynn (played by Paul Dano) as he works in a Boston homeless shelter, where he reconnects with his estranged father, Jonathan Flynn (De Niro). “He (De Niro) got involved about three years into the project, but it still took another four years for the production to start rolling,” Flynn said. “His presence certainly helped. I’m sure it helped attract other great actors like Paul Dano and Julianne Moore who wanted to work with him.” Flynn served as an executive producer for the film and worked on the set daily. Among his tasks were reviewing scripts and offering cast members perspectives on the characters and the story. The film received positive reviews from Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The New York Times and Time. It also met with applause from audience
members who attended a sneak preview screening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In attendance were Flynn, his Creative Writing Program colleagues and UH President Renu Khator. Following the screening, Flynn spoke to the audience and noted that he appreciated the audience’s responses to the film’s more humorous scenes. “That’s one of the reasons I feel comfortable in Houston. People have the same sense of humor that they do in Boston,” he said. “I hadn’t quite seen that until the screening. The movie is funny in places. Some people might see it as a tragedy, but I think it has some lightness to it.” Adapting his story to the screen was an eight-year journey for Flynn. Now that it has hit theaters, he is pleased with the final product. While many artists might view cinematic interpretations of their works with a wary eye, Flynn feels that “Being Flynn” is a solid representation of his story.
n one of the first studies to look at how salt marshes were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a University of Houston researcher examined how crabs, insects and spiders fared after the disaster. The study found that these small creatures, an important part of the ecosystem because they are a food source for larger animals, were able to recover within a year if their host plants remained healthy. Steven Pennings, a UH biology professor and Brittany McCall, a UH graduate student, sampled terrestrial arthropods and marine invertebrates at the time of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as a year later. Their findings were published March 7 in the open access journal PLoS ONE and widely reported in news media outlets around the United States.
Nick Flynn and Lillie Robertson at MFAH screening.
“I really like the movie,” he said. “Some people might not like it. I can’t control that. I don’t have any regrets or think we should taken another direction. In all of my projects, I try to give them the time they need. It’s not what I want them to be. It’s what they need to be. So, I think the film is what it needs to be right now.” H — Mike Emery
RESEARCHER GAUGES OIL SPILL EFFECT ON MARSHES
Pennings and McCall gathered samples in areas where relatively low levels of oil were present but the plants still appeared healthy and undamaged. They found that in these areas, the numbers of crabs, insects and spiders were reduced by up to 50 percent because of the oil exposure. Their work was funded by a National Science Foundation grant. “This study demonstrates that appearances can be deceiving,” Pennings said. “Arthropods are quite vulnerable to oil exposure. These results are very important because they show that we can’t assume that the marsh is healthy just because the plants are still alive.” However, the fact that some plant life remained intact in these areas apparently was key to how the arthropods recovered. When the UH
researchers sampled the same areas a year later, all three groups appeared to have recovered, suggesting that arthropods affected by oil may recover if their host plants remain healthy. “Salt marshes are commonly disturbed by natural events and, as a result, they may be able to also recover from oil spills if the oil disturbance is not too large,” Pennings said. Oil spills pose a major threat to coastal wetlands, but the exact environmental costs are difficult to measure because experiments cannot replicate large environmental catastrophes. Because each oil spill is different, McCall and Pennings cautioned against extrapolating their results to all oil spills. H — Laura Tolley
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M A K I N G A N I M PA C T
STAFF COUNCIL MARKS 25 YEARS OF SHARED GOVERNANCE AND GOOD ‘FIRST IMPRESSIONS’ decided that these fees could not be waived. The advocacy, however, continued and led to the funding of staff scholarships in later years, a heightened focus on staff training opportunities and the recognition of career paths in the job classification system.” In 1998, the council launched CFI, an innovative program aimed at welcoming students to campus during the first two days of the fall semester. During its first year, 300 volunteers staffed booths at dozens of locations, fielded questions from more than 10,000 students and distributed thousands of bottles of water, maps and other relevant material. Since then, the program has flourished and has galvanized the campus community, drawing support from divisions, colleges and departments and from 500 staff and faculty members who volunteer each year. CFI has become so successful, with volunteers answering questions from 17,000 to 21,000 students per year, that Staff Council debuted Spring Welcome in January. Modeled after CFI, Spring Welcome assists students during first two days of the spring semester.
Volunteers give directions to students looking for their classrooms at Staff Council’s Cougar First Impressions. The program is one of the council’s most successful initiatives.
s it officially passes the quarter century mark, the University of Houston Staff Council has made quite an impression on the campus community during the past 25 years. Staff Council’s achievements range from securing funds for staff tuition scholarships to advocating for job training to creating the popular Cougar First Impressions (CFI), which provides campus directions and cool drinks for disoriented students at the start of each semester. These successes stem from years of hard work, resilience and shared governance. “The shared governance between Staff Council and the university administration has allowed the council to become more involved in the issues and concerns on campus and to exhibit its position as an advisory board that effectively communicates and works to provide staff with outcomes that are beneficial to the university,” said Elsie Myers, current Staff Council president.
Staff Council’s origins go back to 1986 when then-chancellor Richard Van Horn established the organization to “function as an avenue for staff input as does the Faculty Senate and the student association for their respective constituencies,” according to its charter. “The inclusion of staff in the process was an acknowledgement that the internal partnership was a triumvirate,” said Craig Ness, assistant vice president for academic operations. Ness led Staff Council from 1989 to 1990. During its early years, the organization focused its efforts on enhancing opportunities for staff and benefits, specifically health care. “Staff education was limited to the rights afforded employees under the State Employees Training Act,” Ness said. “Staff Council supported the waiving of certain university fees for employees taking classes, which was in effect for several years. It was later
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Reflecting on the council’s endeavors and history, Carol Barr, who served as Staff Council president three times, says the council has become an integral part of the shared governance process. “When the council was first created, few staff served on university committees. Today a staff member sits on most university committees,” Barr said. “Staff members are actively engaged and involved in student success and supporting the university becoming a Tier One institution. The increased communication between Staff Council and the administration can only have added value.” In the future, Myers hopes Staff Council will see another 25 years of productivity and success. “We will continue our involvement with issues concerning staff affairs on campus,” Myers said. “As Staff Council members continue to serve on university committees, they will work to establish and increase awareness of issues and concerns that will establish strong relationships among staff, students, faculty, the administration and the UH community for years to come.” H —Francine Parker
TWO UH OFFICIALS JOINING WIND ALLIANCE BOARD
wo University of Houston officials are now serving on The Wind Alliance, a collection of industrial, academic and public sector entities working collaboratively on the needs of the wind industry. The Wind Alliance recently revitalized its structure and leadership to better address the workforce, infrastructure and technology challenges facing the industry. As part of that restructuring, it appointed a new board and named UH’s Raymond Cline its managing director. Cline is associate dean for research and graduate studies in UH’s College of Technology. Additionally, Rathindra N. Bose, vice chancellor for research and technology transfer for the UH System and vice president for research and technology transfer for UH, was named to the new board.
UH OPENS SLEEP AND ANXIETY CENTER FOR KIDS The University of Houston recently opened the Sleep
The Alliance is a 501(c)(3) organization funded by member fees and donations and managed and supported in part by UH. It has three functional committees: workforce, infrastructure and technology. The infrastructure committee studies the national transmission, distribution and storage requirements. The technology committee identifies the needs for next generation of turbine research, development, manufacturing and installation. The workforce committee examines potential workforce deficits and specific opportunities for research, education and industry partnerships. Cline and Bose are joined on the board by Dick Williams, president of Shell WindEnergy; Erin McKillop, with Vestas Technology R&D; P. Barry Butler, executive vice president and provost of the University of Iowa; and Daniel Laird, with Sandia National Laboratories. H
and Anxiety Center for Kids, a clinical research center that provides low-cost, empirically based evaluation and treatment services for children and adolescents who struggle with anxiety and/or sleep disorders. http://bit.ly/GSV0Tx UH CENTER FOR MEXICAN AMERICAN STUDIES TURNS 40 The UH Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, offering an interdisciplinary academic program focusing on the Mexican American and broader Latino experience in the United States. http://bit.ly/GJwxDR UH, METHODIST TEAM UP TO PREPARE SURGEONS FOR THE OPERATING ROOM To better prepare new surgeons for the operating room, UH computer scientists are working with medical researchers at the Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education to improve existing training processes. http://bit.ly/GS5UdD
UH MOURNS LOSS OF FORMER PROFESSOR AND ‘FATHER OF CLINICAL OPTOMETRY,’ IRVIN M. BORISH (1913-2012)
UH LAW CENTER LAUNCHES JOINT PROGRAM IN INTERNATIONAL ENERGY LAW Law students from the UH Law Center and University of Calgary will learn to analyze complex emerging issues in energy and
IRVIN M. BORISH, O.D., DOS, former University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) Benedict Professor, died after a brief illness March 3 at age 99. Borish was considered the “Father of Clinical Optometry” and the most influential optometrist of the 20th century. He served as a practitioner, teacher and researcher.
environmental sectors and earn degrees in U.S.
Borish assumed the Benedict Professorship of Optometric Practice at UHCO in 1982 – the first endowed chair in an optometric institution. The endowed Irvin M. Borish Chair was established in 1987 with more than $1 million of support.
launch of new university centers that would serve two
Borish visited the UHCO in April 2010 and was voted by students to give the UHCO commencement address in May 2010. H
and Canada. http://bit.ly/GSVut3 UH SYSTEM PARTNERING WITH HCC TO DEVELOP NEW UNIVERSITY CENTERS The University of Houston System is moving forward with plans to become the primary partner with Houston Community College in the major branches of the HCC District – HCC Northwest College and HCC Northeast College. http://bit.ly/GIZj43
MORE ONLINE www.uh.edu/magazine/bonus
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HOUSTON WILL NOT BE A WORLD WITHOUT A GREAT PUBLIC by Carrie Criado (J.D. ’95)
University of Houston Law Professor Anthony R. Chase is the newly elected Chairman of the Board of the Greater Houston Partnership. The principal objective of the Greater Houston Partnership, which traces its roots back to Houston’s original Chamber of Commerce founded in 1840, is to build regional economic prosperity. The Partnership facilitates relocations and expansions in the Houston area; international outreach initiatives such as business development missions outside the U.S. and receiving foreign trade delegations; and strategic planning. The 10-county “Greater Houston” region encompasses Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto and Waller counties. Professor Chase plans to continue teaching at UH Law Center during his tenure as GHP Chairman.
Q: How long have you served on the Greater Houston Partnership Board? A: I have proudly served as a director for GHP off and on since 2004. I have been active on several different committees including government affairs since 1998. Q: As newly elected Chairman for 2012, what are some of your goals? A: The Greater Houston Partnership has many ongoing initiatives whether it is serving its members through being a classic chamber of commerce, helping to create and retain jobs through regional economic development and its Opportunity Houston fund account, or through being the public policy advocate for the Houston region’s business community. With all these initiatives, the GHP Board of Directors and I have strong expectations and high goals for the organization. I want GHP to grow its small business membership. Small businesses drive our economy and GHP offers numerous benefits to help its small business members grow and expand their business. Q: GHP has been an important supporter of the University of Houston. How do you see that relationship going forward? A: GHP will continue to promote the University of
Houston and its Tier One status.
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Houston will not be a world class city without having a great public university. And clearly, UH is the university to fill that role. It’s important for the growth of the entire Houston region and for the commercial interests along the Gulf Coast. So the ascension of UH, including the Law Center, to that level is essential. Q: What are the other public policy areasGHP will be focusing on during your tenure as chairman? A: Promoting Houston as the “Natural Gas Capital of the World” through lobbying strenuously in favor of fracking, offshore drilling and favorable financial and tax policies for the energy industry. Fighting for increased funding for education to ensure Houston has an educated workforce for the future which includes fixing the state franchise tax. Increased funding for infrastructure and transportation. Fighting for federal funding to make sure the Texas Medical Center has the doctors and nurses it needs to make up current shortages and provide the best medical care in the world. Q: Why is Houston such a great city for business? A: That’s simple: Houston is leading the nation as it recovers from the great recession. Our diverse economy led by a strong energy industry and pro-business policies have allowed us to be the first city in the U.S. to recover all of the jobs that
CLASS CITY UNIVERSITY
were lost during the recession, 121,000 in total. No other city in the country has come close to recovering all of their jobs. But it gets better. More people are working in Houston now than ever before. Companies expanding or moving to our city know we have an educated workforce and great educational institutions such as the University of Houston, which is training the next generation of workers. Noted writer and Forbes columnist Joel Kotkin called Houston a “model city” and wrote: “Houston has kept the cost of government low while investing in ports, airports, roads, transit and schools. A person or business moving there gets an immediate raise through lower taxes and cheaper real estate. Houston just works better at nurturing jobs.” So, a strong economy, business friendly policies and a welcoming and diverse community make up a formula for Houston that few if any other cities can match. And, of course, our own UH plays an important role in all of that. H Chase has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He is chairman & CEO of ChaseSource L.P. and ChaseSource Real Estate Services L.P. He has been a member of the UH Law Center faculty teaching contracts and communications law since 1990. A version of this article originally appeared in the UHLC’s Briefcase magazine.
“ Companies expanding or moving to our city know we have an educated workforce and great educational institutions such as the University of Houston.” Anthony R. Chase, UH Law Professor and Chairman, Greater Houston Partnership
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by Eric Gerber (’72, M.A. ’78)
UH & HOUSTON
PA RTNE RS I
f you asked a biology professor, he might discuss it in terms of symbiosis – that is, a very close and mutually beneficial relationship between two entities.
If you asked a physics professor, she might use the word synergy – the interaction of two forces so that the combined result is greater than the sum of the individual effects. But however you characterize it, the relationship between the University of Houston and the city for which it is named has been remarkably productive and increasingly rewarding for both parties. UH has served as economic engine, educational wellspring, workforce developer, community resource and cultural bastion. Houston, for its part, has responded with civic support, philanthropic backing, corporate and business sponsorship and political clout. This reciprocal relationship can be as measurable as the 8,000 new graduates UH adds to the pool of well-educated employees and inspired leaders each year. Or as intangible, though no less real, as the esteem the community feels in being the home of a nationally recognized institution.
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“It is a blessing to have a university of this caliber in our own backyard,” as Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) CEO Jeff Moseley said recently. “It allows us to cultivate the level of talent necessary to make our region so successful.” That kind of enlightened self-interest explains why the GHP has chosen to make UH’s efforts to achieve Tier One status one of its own top political priorities in dealing with the Texas Legislature.
The city’s and the university’s common roots run deep. Back in 1927, when benefactor Hugh Roy Cullen helped establish the University of Houston, it was clearly intended to serve as a community resource, an egalitarian undertaking that allowed the city to flourish – and flourished itself as a result.
Together, UH and Houston have become powerful partners. Of course, this robust partnership between Houston and UH is not unique. UH is a perfect example of what the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (CUSU) classifies as “anchor institutions.” These are the museums, sports
UH as Hurricane Ike Relief Center stadiums, municipal facilities, medical centers and, most definitely, universities that can serve as a stabilizing foundation to help maintain a community’s overall quality of life. At UH, there has been no more compelling example of that when, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the school stepped up to serve as a community point of distribution (POD), providing water, ice and packaged meals to the storm-ravaged public. UH faculty, staff and students joined with other area volunteers to distribute the much-needed emergency supplies to thousands of fellow Houstonians – and offer an
object lesson about the larger role a university can, and should, play in society. Though not as dramatic as serving as a hurricane relief center, UH continues to meet its obligations as an anchor institution in countless ways. Along with transforming students into attorneys, the UH Law Center (UHLC) offers assistance to the general public regarding a number of legal issues. “The People’s Law School (at the UH Law Center) is the largest and oldest law-for-thelayperson program in the country,” said Richard
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M. Alderman, associate dean and director of the Consumer Law Center at the UH Law Center. “So far, more than 50,000 people have attended our free community classes to learn more about their legal rights.”
consumers save in excess of $3 million since it was founded at UHLC in 2006, courtesy of a financial award from the Texas Attorney General’s office. Other UHLC clinics and centers provide a variety of legal assistance and counsel to deserving clients and organizations in the Houston area with immigration, civil, criminal, health law and transactional challenges. Counsel of a more commercial nature is available to the public at UH’s Small Business Development Center, which provided free business consulting and low-cost training seminars to approximately 13,000 small and medium-sized business owners and managers in the past year.
UH School of Theatre & Dance Its sister institution, the Texas Consumer Complaint Center, has helped more than 13,000
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The university also plays a prominent role in keeping Houstonians culturally invested as well, with free (or nominally priced) performances and exhibits at the Moores School of Music, the Blaffer Art Museum, the School of Theatre and Dance and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts attracting an estimated 175,000 visitors to campus each year. Not to mention the 35,000 who attend the Houston Shakespeare Festival, which UH produces each year in Miller Outdoor Theater.
That annual tribute to the Bard is a great example of how the university, as an anchor institution, can respond when it recognizes a clear need in the community. The Shakespeare Festival was established in 1975 by UH theater professor Sidney Berger, who was concerned about the dearth of such productions in Houston.
and cosmopolitan as Houston needed a full-time classical station and a full-time local news and NPR affiliate. The Solomon-like solution was to launch KUHA as a classical music and fine arts operation and dedicate KUHF to news and public affairs.
That same impulse to But, wait. address an insufficiency There’s more. resulted in the university originating KUHT-TV Taking it one, way back in 1953, mighty big step the country’s first further, UH is now educational television combining the two station, which eventually radio stations and became Houston’s local the television station PBS affiliate (Channel (and eventually 8). Something similar a substantially motivated the university’s expanded web site) recent move to create into Houston a second public radio Public Media, station, with KUHA (91.7 a forward-looking FM) joining the venerable initiative that is KUHF (88.7 FM), which envisioned to has been on the air since provide our 1950. For the past two city with even Lisa Trapani Shumate decades or so, KUHF more dynamic had been splitting its airtime between classical and sophisticated programming resources. music and a combination of local news coverage with National Public Radio programming. Many “This has grown out of an awareness of how listeners wanted more Mozart; many others people consume media today,” said Lisa Trapani were disappointed they weren’t hearing as much Shumate, executive director and general manager Houston reporting and NPR as they wanted. Each of HPM. “It’s seldom limited to just one medium. faction had a legitimate point – a city as vibrant We can’t think of radio as just radio, or TV as just
TV. We need to be thinking about an integrated whole, something that lets us maximize our assets and take advantage of these synergies.” Although still early in the process, Shumate is already commingling the KUHF news staffers with the KUHT production crew with an eye toward collaborative, cross-media reporting and public affairs programming. It is, she promised, going to get bigger and better – thanks, in large part, to its mission-driven nature as a listener- and viewersupported university enterprise. “We’re in different universes,” she said, referring to private sector media operations. “They’re about making money – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but our priority is to serve the community. We will be shining bright lights on subjects of vital importance to this city. We plan to be the undisputed leader in programming about energy, health care, the arts and education. Not to belabor the point, but look at the first two words of our name: Houston. Public. Media.” Of course, serving the community can take a wide variety of forms, including an estimated million hours of volunteer work from dedicated UH students each year. At UH, you have to look no further for evidence of that than the College of Optometry’s University Eye Institute and affiliated neighborhood clinics, which now provide vision services to some 40,000 patients a year, including indigent care as appropriate. Subsidized by the City of Houston and area foundations, they even operate the
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UH Master Plan model
“We have developed a university that meets our community’s needs and encourages its ambitions.” — Renu Khator UH System Chancellor and UH President
Texas Diesel Research and Testing Center Mobile Eye Institute – a bus equipped with the latest in ophthalmic technology – to bring vision care to area schoolchildren and deliver crisis care during emergency situations. Similarly, the University Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic, working with United Way, offers testing and treatment to large number of local infants, children and adults with impairments.
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Sometimes, it can get really down and dirty, like the efforts of the Cullen College of Engineering’s Texas Diesel Research and Testing Center, now housed in the Energy Research Park. Begun in 2003 as a collaboration between UH and the City of Houston, the center performed evaluations of municipal vehicles to determine fuel efficiency and emission control levels for the 2800 dieselpowered units, as well as assessments of new
IMPACT $3.5 Billion
Impact on Houston Economy Each Year
1,000,000+ Hours of Student Volunteer Work Each Year
270,000 Total Degrees Awarded UH Graduation Ceremony
equipment . The goal has been to help the city make informed choices about the best technology available. So useful has the center been, in fact, it has expanded beyond its initial target, including work with Houston Independent School District buses and a partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation to reduce emissions in TxDOT construction vehicles. While UH promoting cleaner air is certainly admirable, a number of Houstonians may be equally appreciative of another crucial amenity the university provides. These Houstonians are called “parents” and the 200 or so summer camps – sports! filmmaking! music! – that UH hosts when area schools let out are often all that stands between them and their bored-silly children. No matter how impressive and expansive the range of collaborations and interactions between the Houston and UH may be, the most fundamental partnership remains the university’s commitment to develop the human capital that allows our city to thrive in a knowledge-based economy. To date, nearly 300,000 people have passed through the classrooms, lecture halls and research labs of UH, acquiring the skills and erudition needed to be good and productive citizens. And 80 percent of those earning degrees from UH remain in the Houston area, using what
they’ve learned to make a living and make a better city. “We take our name very seriously,” UH President Renu Khator wrote in a recent commentary for CultureMap. “While we pursue academic excellence and knowledge creation for their own sake, we also strive to be the University OF Houston. By that, I mean we have developed a university that meets our community’s needs and encourages its ambitions… UH is helping to make Houston a great city. And, in doing so, UH is becoming a great university. ” H
Annual Visitors to Campus Performances & Exhibits
50,000 “People’s Law School” Attendees
40,000 Patients Treated Each Year at University Eye Institute & Clinics
8,000 New UH Graduates Each Year
80% Graduates Who Remain in Houston
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Continuing The Great by Mallory Chesser (’08)
e must never lose the continuity of the name or the intimacy of a small event,” says Honors College alumna and Advisory Board Chair Jane M. Cizik of her brainchild fundraiser, The Great Conversation. “Most importantly, we must not lose sight of our mission: to engage the greater Houston community through an evening of sociability and conversation.” On March 28, 2012, more
“An event appealing than 300 of Houston’s most intellectually curious entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, business leaders and benefactors celebrated the 20th year of The Great Conversation, an award-winning fundraiser that has supported the Honors College and its students since 1993. This year Jane Cizik was honored for her contributions to the Honors College and to the conversational model that Houston Chronicle society columnist Shelby Hodge called “a new breed of fundraiser.”
Jane M. Cizik
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Portrait of Ms. Cizik by Thomas Campbell.
Cizik, the wife of a Houston businessman and mother of five, was a life-long reader yearning for a college education. Growing up, she had watched her mother, armed with only an 8th grade education and a reading list from a professor, pore over the classics, instilling the value of a great books education in her children. After her youngest child began his studies at St. John’s High School, Cizik began studying for her SATs. She applied and was accepted to the newly configured University Honors Program in the late 70s—the program would not become a college until 1993—shortly after the arrival of founding dean Ted Estess. Cizik graduated in 1983, realizing her dream of a bachelor’s degree and a high-quality liberal arts education. It was Cizik’s
Conversation director of development Marjie French, first advisory board president Catherine Campbell Brock, and other members of the advisory board, Cizik served as honorary chair for the Cizik had chaired many galas and charity gala’s first year. Committee members planned events, and when asked to participate in a and promoted the event—writing letters, brainstorming session for a benefit showcasing calling old friends, and getting the word out to the best of Honors, she knew they would their respective social circles. “I got in touch need to do something special. “In those years, with Shelby Hodge,” Cizik remembers. “I took gala meant something formal, and there was her to lunch—in those days you could do always ‘entertainment,’” Cizik says. “The best that—and I told her about this idea we had. She was fascinated, and she gave us some much-needed publicity.” Clearly impressed, Hodge —Shelby Hodge noted in her article that the event’s goal was to entertainment is what happens in Honors “involve people in a meaningful way, appealing classes—Socratic dialogue.” to their intellect rather than their vanity.” non-traditional route to Honors that inspired the idea for a “great books” gala when she was approached by Estess in 1992.
to intellect rather than vanity.”
Events supporting education usually feature speeches by leading scholars in their fields followed by polite question-and-answer sessions, not the give-and-take of dialogue. “We wanted to bring together the town and the gown,” Cizik said. Her idea was that members of the Houston community, led by faculty conversationalists, would have the opportunity to engage in an exploration of an academic topic—a “great book,” a controversial political issue, or an intriguing aspect of the faculty member’s research. The format of conversation would simulate the dialogue that takes place between professors and students in Honors College seminars. At the same time, the academics would step outside their comfort zone and into an unfamiliar world with different rules. It was a challenge for both groups because, as Cizik says, “In a sense they were afraid of each other. I thought that meeting each other in a congenial setting would melt some barriers.” Ultimately, the experiment was wa success.
The publicity worked. Donor contributions exceeded that year’s target—$25,000 for a teaching fellowship—and the committee learned valuable lessons. For example, trust in the generosity of the Houston community. Fundraising goals have since become more ambitious, and for The Great Conversation 2012, the Honors College raised over $250,000 to put toward student scholarships.
Collaborating with Estess, event co-chairs Christopher Knapp and Grace Pierce, former
A version of this article originally appeared in Areté, The Honors College newsletter.
Cizik recalls one memorable year that brought the challenges and goals of the event to the table. She was sitting with Paul Chu, a renowned physics professor and researcher in superconductivity at the University of Houston. “I wondered how this difficult topic could be made interesting for my guests, but to my delight and surprise, Dr. Chu turned out to be one of the best conversationalists we’ve ever had. His intent wasn’t to lecture. It was to engage and guide.” H
Past to Present
Great conversations do not end with a higher education degree but continue as an essential element in our American discourse. They have enriched us, and continue to excite us. Enjoy our sampling of inspired dialogs.
Finding One’s True Home: Homer’s “Odyssey” Ted Estess, Director, University Honors Program
Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know: The Life and Art of Lord Byron s 1994 James Pipkin, Dean, College of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communication “Hamlet”: Murder, Madness or Morality? s 1995 Sidney Berger, Director, School of Theater & Dance Risk Is Life, Life Is Risk s 1996 Paul Chu, Director, Texas Center for Superconductivity Athletics & Academic: A Coach’s Perspective Bill Yeoman, former UH Football Coach Is Affirmative Action Constitutional? Stephen Zamora, Professor of Law
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love s 1999 William Monroe, Associate Dean, The Honors College How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry Edward Hirsch, Poetry and Creative Writing
William Jefferson Clinton: America’s Machiavellian Prince? s 2001 Ross Lence, Political Philosophy The Political Voice of Jazz and Blues Christine LeVeaux, Political Science
The Media Go to War: Whose Side Are Those Guys on Anyway? s Steve Smith, Broadcast Journalist and Media Consultant Globalization and Its Discontents s 2004 John Antel, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences America: The Last Great Empire? Susan Collins, Political Theory
Whatever Happened to Dr. Welby? s 2006 Clifford Dacso, Director, The Abramson Family Center for the Future of Health Are Families Inconvenient? Iain Morrison, Philosophy
Designer Babies: Engineering Our Health, Wealth and Well-Being s 2008 Helen Valier, History of Medicine What Philosophy Can Tell You About Your Cat Cynthia Freeland, Philosophy
High, Low and Lots of Peat: Tasting Scotland’s “Waters of Life” s 2010 Andrew Davis, Moores School of Music John Harvey, The Center for Creative Work Why Americans Are Bad at Science (And How We Can Get Better) s 2011
Simon Bott, Chemistry
A Table Tour of India s 2012 Renu Khator, Chancellor and President Suresh Khator, Associate Dean, Cullen College of Engineering
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EXTRA! EXTR Houston Chronicle Program Helps UH Interns Scoop Up Experience by Lisa Merkl (’92, M.A. ’97)
Internships have become like taking English 101, and at the University of Houston, many students have two or three under their belts by the time they graduate. Last
“It’s a hands-on way of balancing the theoretical and the philosophical with practical application,” said Laura Ashley, internship coordinator for the Valenti School. “Our journalism students have the opportunity to write stories, learn how to research, develop interview skills, manage the chron.com website, take part in the paper’s layout process and juggle realworld deadlines and skills.” A hallmark of this program is its exclusivity. It’s not a posted internship. Only the most qualified students are identified through their journalism classes and invited to apply. After they are hand-selected, the students submit a resume and writing samples, as well as undergo a formal interview, before making the cut. “Even after being chosen to apply, it’s not guaranteed that they’ll be accepted,” Ashley says. “They are not automatically placed, but must get the internship by going through an actual interview process, just like in the real world. This is unique to UH. Other schools don’t do it this way.”
Houston Chronicle Senior Editor Dan Cunningham talks shop with the current cohort of UH interns. UH instructor David McHam, center rear.
year alone, UH offered students more than 1,200 opportunities from nearly 350 employers, providing a valuable gateway to career-level positions. With nearly two-thirds of UH seniors receiving full-time jobs at the end of their internships, executive director of University Career Services David Small says it’s a very effective way to gain experience and get a job. One high-profile program that has led to such opportunities is the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication’s partnership with the Houston Chronicle. Since 2010, this internship has had nearly 50 interns go through the program, with the spring 2012 class being the largest so far with 16 students.
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The interns work 20 hours per week at the Chronicle and complete three additional assignments for the class, adding up to a 225-hour investment by the end. At the outset, they sign a contract outlining their duties with a supervisor, with 75 percent communication work and only 25 percent administrative tasks. This encourages professionalism on both sides and ensures the students won’t be used as errand-running “gophers.” “It’s an incredible opportunity for building a portfolio and networking,” Ashley says. “They truly gain real-world experience. They not only walk away with bylines, but also get leads for other jobs.” The students are evidence of that, with numerous front-page stories and bylines appearing consistently throughout the paper. Many have acquired full-time jobs after their Chronicle internships.
“This is the kind of program that should be extended across Houston. It could be replicated in hospitals, law firms – any professional office.” —Jeff Cohen Houston Chronicle executive vice president and editor
“My writing was in print the first day on the job and many days after that. It feels amazing,” says Travis Alford, one of this spring’s interns who was featured on the Chronicle’s front page with
is currently interning on the sports desk. “My teachers at UH have done a great job of painting a clear picture of what it’s like to work in the industry.”
the program became formalized when Houston Chronicle executive vice president and editor Jeff Cohen realized the potential for all involved. “This isn’t just a win-win situation, it’s win-winwin,” Cohen says. “The interns are learning – they get a graduate-level seminar from editors and reporters who serve as mentors. Our staff is learning from them – having UH students in the newsroom exposes us to issues of importance to 20-somethings. And our readers are the big winners – the professional-level work from the young journalists is appearing in all sections of the newspaper and on our websites. This is the kind of program that should be extended across Houston. It could be replicated in hospitals, law firms – any professional office.”
UH student Ariana Benavidez works as a copy editor on the Universal Desk as part of the Houston Chronicle internship program.
his story on Houston’s economy experiencing the fastest growth among North American cities. “This experience has opened up so many doors. I’ve been approached about my articles from writers at the New York Times all the way to people on the streets of Houston. My portfolio is already grabbing the attention of many other papers.” While professional bylined articles and experience on the job are obvious benefits of these internships, a solid academic foundation is equally important. “I’m constantly learning new lessons, which will allow for a much smoother transition into the professional world,” said Love Patel, who
Two of those educators key to the program are David McHam, an instructional professor for the Valenti School, and Charlie Crixell, both an adjunct professor at UH and news editor at the Chronicle. “Houston is the fourth largest city in America, and the Houston Chronicle is among the nation’s top 10 newspapers,” says McHam, a veteran journalism educator. “No other journalism program in the country is doing this to this extent. It’s very unusual, even rare, to do so on this scale. It’s unheard of that a key paper the size of the Chronicle gives students this opportunity.”
And indeed it is. In addition to the Chronicle, the Valenti School has students interning at such places as the local NBC, ABC and Fox TV stations, the Rockets, Astros and Dynamo sports teams, various public relations firms and ad agencies, and at Memorial Hermann Hospital and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Similar professional internship programs are going on all across campus and provide this level of hands-on experience throughout many of the colleges. “Internships are a great way to test the waters and are available for virtually all majors. During this recessionary period, employers tend to hire directly from internship roles before they seek candidates from the general population,” says Small. “They have grown accustomed to coming to UH for students.” And that is definitely big news. H
While Crixell shepherded students over the years with his dual roles at the university and the paper,
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HOUSTON’S by Marsha J. Carter
he world’s largest rodeo displayed a distinct shade of Cougar Red as University of
Houston officials, students, volunteers and fans recently celebrated their continuing “Go Texan” partnership with the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Duster-clad Frontiersmen, the school’s rugged spirit guard, waved the university and Texas flags high during the traditional downtown rodeo parade, as the Spirit of Houston Cougar Marching Band followed with thundering brass and drums, setting the stage for a chuck wagon filled with UH officials who saluted the exuberant parade viewers by flashing the “Go Coogs!” sign. Among the wagoneers was UH President Renu Khator, sporting her best Western garb. She reprised that cowgirl role at “UH Night at the Rodeo” a few days later, circling the arena on horseback during the Grand Entry procession. And preceding all this, thousands of rodeo visitors enjoyed slabs of smoky brisket courtesy of the Cougar Cookers, participating in the popular cook-off event. It’s safe to say UH loves to rodeo. And Rodeo Houston certainly returns the favor. Rodeo Houston has been providing financial support to deserving UH students for several years. Today, Rodeo Houston awards up to 200 scholarships to UH (and UH System) students annually and has even set up continuing endowments for UH’s College of Natural Science and Mathematics and the Conrad Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. This partnership, however, wasn’t always so beneficial. It was spurred on by a group of alumni who are tenacious, passionate about UH – and can cook up a storm. Glen and Judie Lilie founded Cougar Cookers 21 years ago to forge an alliance.
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President Renu Khator, Associate Dean Suresh Khator (left), the Frontiersmen (above) and the Spirit of Houston Cougar Marching Band celebrated in full red-galia in the Rodeo Houston parade.
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Chancellor and President Renu Khator riding tall in the saddle for the Grand Entry on UH Night at the Rodeo. Even her trusty steed is smiling for the crowds and the camera! “When we began, UH was not receiving the great support we receive now from Rodeo Houston,” says Glen, who today is First Year Vice President of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. “We decided the best way to improve the relationship was to have a presence on their turf. So we formed a cook-off team.” Current Cougar Cooker President Lyn Houston picks up the story: “We questioned why the rodeo didn’t give more scholarships to UH, and they said, well, you weren’t visible out there. From then to now, our scholarship awards have gone from a nominal amount to $200,000 last year.” The Cougar Cookers began their campaign with one stall, one recipe that’s nurtured and updated every year and a small group of hard-working volunteers. This year, Cougar Cookers expanded to three stalls and dished out more than 4,000 plates of barbecue during the rodeo’s championship barbecue competition. So, did they win, place or show? “It’s not about the competition. It’s about the friendship,” Chief Cook Brian Royo says diplomatically.
Royo, three assistant cooks and a herd of volunteers grill, stir and season to please from Wednesday through Saturday the week of the cook-off, taking turns to stay overnight. “Some of us only see each other a couple times a year,” he continues. “It’s like a big reunion. Everyone is having a really good time together and we’re giving back to UH.”
“The culture of the rodeo was similar to the beginning of the campus when Frontier Fiesta had a large impact on the UH community,” says Glen Lilie.
Frontier Fiesta began in 1939 as the university’s spring celebration introducing and connecting the growing campus to the Houston community. By the early 1950s, it was attracting 200,000 people from across the region but, by the end of the decade, it Cougar Cookers begin planning for the rodeo came to a halt for a variety of reasons. Revived in in September. 1992, Frontier Fiesta today is a rootin’ tootin’ spring “Each year we try to get a little bit better and do a production saddling up the talents and passion of little bit more,” says Billie Schneider, vice chair and students, alumni, faculty and staff. Each year, part chair of the membership committee. “Each year we of the campus is transformed into a fully functional have people say the same thing, ‘Oh, these are the town called “Fiesta City” where variety shows, best beans yet’ or ‘what was the recipe for that potato carnival booths, a fun run and cooking competitions salad?’ Everyone is doing a beautiful job.” welcome all of Houston to the campus. During the last two decades, the group has created UH’s annual Frontier Fiesta is a rowdy treat for a Permanent Endowment Fund for general scholastic Houstonians who still have a hankering for more purposes at UH and annually contributes to Cougar Western fun and games. H Pride, which provides scholastic funding for student athletes. The Cougar Cookers also award their own scholarships to UH students who volunteer for Frontier Fiesta, the student-led festival once named “the Greatest College Show on Earth” by LIFE Magazine.
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Rodeo Houston Spurs Success at UH … The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo awards approximately 200 scholarships a year to UH (and UHS) students. Through the years, those awards have changed lives, inspired perseverance and provided a spring board for young professionals. Four UH Rodeo Scholars share how this support helped them saddle up for success.
C O UG AR C O O K ER S grillin’ up great taste during the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest. (L to R) Chris Vaughan, Pete Schubert and Rob Owen.
Gabynely Solis was only the second person
Linda Pham was awarded the scholarship in
in her family to graduate high school and attend college. She received her scholarship in 2004 and graduated in 2008 from the School of Communication /Honors College with a B.A. in public relations, with a Russian language minor. “This scholarship brings positive change,” she says. “I was able to graduate, obtain a great job, provide for my family and give back to the community. It was the start of a cycle of positive effects.” Today, Gabynely is the marketing coordinator for Space City Credit Union.
2006, graduated in 2009 and works as a family financial coach. “I help families by teaching them how to make and save more money. Plus, I get to work in a positive environment and get to train and develop others to become better people.”
Matthew DeForke graduated from UH in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. He credits the rodeo scholarship with helping him achieve his goal of educating the next generation. He is currently teaching math at Morton High School and is the assistant swim coach.
Ashley Heng received the rodeo’s Metropolitan Scholarship in 2004. She is currently pursuing a Master of Education degree at UH while teaching high school math. “I am forever grateful for the rodeo scholarship! I promoted the scholarship at my school, hoping it would motivate students to apply. Four students from my school received the scholarship last year. I only hope that this year’s number of recipients will match or exceed last year’s.” H
N TO L S OU FU S H R R &
E NE W O T
P AR P
reaching out by Richard Bonin and Laura Tolley
tellar faculty members are key to the University of Houston’s ongoing ambition to build a nationally competitive portfolio of translational research focused on energy and health.
Toward that goal, UH President Renu Khator recently created a $30 million fund to fuel start-up and incentive packages to attract some of the nation’s most talented research faculty in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Sixty new faculty members in STEM fields will be hired over the next two years with this fund’s help. The STEM recruiting initiative is part of UH’s mission to solidify its standing as a Tier One public research university. These new professors will help build on the success UH has had already in the area of translational research, which is the bridge from discovery to delivery. Translational research has a clinical goal or target in mind, which isn’t the case for basic research. Translational research programs are most effective when fostered within academia, and with collaborations involving academia, government and industry. UH is focusing its translational research efforts on two of its strengths: energy and health-related discovery and innovation. “The $30 million recruitment fund is not new money from a single external source,” Khator said. “This university is serious about its Tier One obligations to the region and the state. As president, I pooled money from a variety of sources – private giving, faculty retirements and external support – and reallocated them to support this high-priority area.” The STEM commitment adds to the multi-million-dollar investment the university is making in new research facilities, as well as its efforts to strengthen its research, academic programs and industry partnerships at the 700,000-square-foot UH Energy Research Park. The 60 faculty members to be hired, along with the five National Academy of Science members who recently joined UH, also are expected to help attract more high-achieving students to the university. As a result, UH’s capacity to produce more STEM graduates, particularly engineers and scientists who will conduct research in these important fields, should increase significantly.
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to researchers Ultimately, these science and engineering graduates are expected to strengthen the nation’s global competitiveness and enhance the health of our national economy and citizenry. Here at home, these graduates also would address the growing workforce and industry needs of the Houston region and the state of Texas.
success of the nation’s economy to the importance of innovation. For instance, its findings show that women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.
UH is focusing its translational research efforts on two of its strengths: energy and health-related discovery and innovation .
The importance of STEM education in sustaining and promoting American innovation and economic competiveness is spelled out in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which calls for increased investment in innovation through research and development. A recent U.S. Department of Commerce report titled “The Competiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States” directly ties the
Over the past 10 years, growth in jobs needing STEM skills was three times that of other sectors. The Commerce Department projects those jobs will continue to outpace other sectors over the next decade. Those jobs include many specialized fields such as computer engineering that are among the highest paying in the country, but also include attractive entry-level positions such as computer technicians. STEM education is a pivotal issue for the city of Houston, which is focused on attracting and sustaining S p r i n g 2 0 1 2 | UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON Ma gazine
reaching out to researchers
“I am very excited THE
high-tech industries. Yet, many STEM-related jobs are going unfilled despite high unemployment. UH has an important role to play in linking STEM education to job creation, Khator believes. This strategic approach will help UH meet Khator’s Tier One goal of raising the university’s overall profile and addresses national concerns about the erosion of an educated workforce needed to sustain a position of scientific and technological leadership in the global economy. To date, the university has hired more than a half dozen additional faculty in the STEM disciplines, and they already have begun conducting research here, said Rathindra Bose, vice president for research and technology transfer. “We are aggressively recruiting faculty with a research focus in one of two areas – energy and health,” Bose said. “These are areas that address the nation’s urgent need for more students and faculty in the (hard sciences) and allow the University of Houston to help Texas stay competitive in a global economy.” UH’s commitment to Tier One research initiatives and its global perspective are key reasons why faculty are responding positively to the university’s recruitment efforts. Jose Luis “Pepe” Contreras-Vidal, professor of electrical and computer engineering, said he decided to join the university in 2011 for three reasons: “The Tier One state of mind of the administration, faculty and students; the meaningful research opportunities that UH’s membership in the Texas Medical Center entail; and the support of the administration and colleagues to provide the means to achieve my vision of developing novel biomedical robotics to improve quality of life, while reducing the socio-economic burden of disability in the U.S. and abroad.” William S. Epling, associate professor of chemical engineering, who also agreed to join UH in 2011, was swayed by the university’s ability to have an international impact.
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O ST L OU FU S & H ER E R UH W N PO A R T
about the potential for us to become internationally recognized leaders in energy research...” —William S. Epling associate professor of chemical engineering, Cullen College of Engineering
“The department of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UH is one of the best in the country, and I am very pleased and honored to be joining this elite group,” he said. “UH has what is considered the best environmental reaction engineering research team in the country, if not the world. “There is no doubt to me that we at UH will not only continue to be the leaders in environmental and engineering research, but with existing core expertise in energy research across the faculty – and planned expanded research efforts in this area – I am very excited about the potential for us to become THE internationally recognized leaders in energy research as well.” Health and energy are key components of Khator’s initiatives for excellence at UH. The university
has established strong industry partnerships with major oil and gas companies, and the Texas Medical Center (TMC) to bolster these initiatives. Almost half of Houston’s economic base is driven by energy, with more than 3,600 energy-related companies based in Houston. The city has almost 40,000 jobs related to oil and gas extraction, representing a third of such positions worldwide. UH faculty members are actively pursuing energy research, including fossil fuels, bio-fuels, wind and solar power. The UH Energy Initiative includes the continued development of the UH Energy Research Park, a 74-acre complex dedicated to energy research and education.
UH is expanding its presence in health-related research programs, including science and engineering, social science and social work, pharmacy and optometry. The UH College of Pharmacy has been a member of the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, since 1980. In 2009 UH became a full member institution of the Texas Medical Center, the 12th university or system of education and research to become a part of TMC. H
The UH Health Initiative builds on the city’s rich healthcare offerings. Through partnerships with the 50 institutions of the Texas Medical Center,
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N E W F A C U L T Y focus N S F C a r e e r Aw a r d W i n n e r s
an environmental microbiologist, Debora Rodrigues works to improve the environment and keep it safe from containments. As an educator, she strives to spark her students’ curiosity and keep them motivated. “My greatest satisfaction comes from awakening students’ innate curiosity about the world around and within them, and then enabling them to answer their own questions using that curiosity as a driving force,” Rodrigues said. Her talent and commitment as a researcher and a teacher have been recognized this year by the National Science Foundation, which honored her with a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.
by Laura Tolley
THE RECIPIENTS ARE: and potentially groundbreaking – work as researchers and educators. The awards, one of the most prestigious grants offered by the NSF, are given to promising junior faculty members to help build their research programs and establish a track record of successful investigations. NSF CAREER Award recipients “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations,” according to the NSF. The five-year grants are awarded to tenuretrack faculty members and each must integrate research with teaching.
She was one of six assistant professors at the University of Houston to receive NSF CAREER Awards to help support their outstanding –
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JIMING BAO, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Joined UH in 2008. NSF Award valued at up to $400,000. Bao is studying the optical properties of graphene, one-atom-thick sheets of carbon. He hopes to determine graphene’s ability to act as a waveguide for surface plasmon, a collective excitation of the electronic “fluid” in a piece of conducting material. Electromagnetic wave simulations have shown that graphene has the ability to act as an optical waveguide for surface plasmon, essentially serving as a pathway along which these electromagnetic waves can travel. By creating sheets of graphene and then etching nano-scale features into the material, Bao aims to confirm its ability to conduct surface plasmon and characterize how well different types of graphene nanoribbons perform this task. If Bao is able to create and observe graphene with good optical waveguide properties, nanoribbons of
the material could serve as optical interconnects in electronic devices, improving their computing speed. “This award represents a kind of recognition from the community of my recent work performed at UH, which includes a Science paper on plasmonics and a Nature Materials paper on graphene,” Bao said. GILA STEIN, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. Joined UH in 2009. NSF Award valued at up to $500,000. Stein is working on characterizing and improving polymer-based solar cells, which could be made into a viable alternative to standard silicon-based solar cells. They are lighter and more durable, easier to produce and have a lower raw materials cost. However, solar cells based on polymers currently aren’t considered a viable alternative to silicon because they are less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. With polymer-based solar cells, the highest reported efficiency is 8 percent in the lab, but 10 percent in the field is considered the threshold for a viable product. The efficiency of commercial silicon solar cells is around 20 percent. In polymer-based cells, performance is partly associated with the active layer’s structure. It’s important to control the interface between the polymer, which generates electrons when exposed to sunlight, and the material that receives those electrons, in Stein’s research a spherical carbon molecule known as fullerene. “We’re focusing on ways to control the distribution of polymer and fullerene instead of just relying on a spontaneous process that is incredibly sensitive to processing conditions and varies substantially from one polymer to another,” Stein said. OGNJEN MILJANIC, assistant professor of chemistry. Joined UH in 2008. NSF Award valued at up to $600,000. Miljanic is studying self-sorting chemical systems, which are complex mixtures of many different compounds able to spontaneously order themselves and produce complex products in high yields and high purities.
This approach is energy- and labor-intensive, but necessary since competing reactivities among the mixture components can completely derail the planned synthetic procedure. Miljanic and his team aim to circumvent this inefficiency by using equilibrating mixtures of compounds that can freely transfer material and information among the components, bringing this preparative method closer to the operation of natural systems. “We do not intend to replicate nature. Instead, we plan to use this self-sorting behavior to expediently prepare sophisticated, but unnatural, molecules of interest in materials science, such as sensors for environmental contaminants, nano-sized capsules for gas separations, hierarchical structures for drug delivery, and the like,” Miljanic said. DEBORA RODRIGUES, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. Joined UH in 2010. NSF Award valued at up to $449,967. Rodrigues is studying the environmental impact of nano-scale materials that use graphene, one of the most promising nanomaterials in existence. “The nanotechnology industry is growing exponentially. They’re finding so many new applications. But we need to be careful about what we are producing and releasing to the environment,” Rodrigues said. One of Rodrigues’ goals is to determine if and how these nanomaterials impact bacteria that are essential to the treatment of wastewater. She also is developing technologies that use graphene and other nanoparticles. Rodrigues plans to combine this experimental work with efforts to educate high school science teachers on nanotechnology. She is a co-principal investigator on a NSF Research Experience for Teachers grant that will bring teachers into several laboratories, including hers, during summer breaks to participate in research efforts and learn about this emerging field. Ultimately, they will be able to share what they learn with their middle and high school students. ANGELA MOELLER, assistant professor of chemistry. Joined UH in 2009. NSF Award valued at up to $473,071.
level. The goal is to gain an understanding of the fundamental structure-property relationships so materials can then be synthesized for cutting-edge sensors and microelectronics devices. “I love my work, and I am naturally curious, taking delight in unexpected results and finding pleasure in unraveling hidden secrets. I also deeply enjoy guiding students so that they develop the skills needed to address challenging and important problems,” Moeller said. “The NSF CAREER grant represents an important validation of our work, confirming that we are addressing important problems at the forefront of materials research,” she said. Moeller’s research will undoubtedly contribute to the general pool of scientific knowledge, which will define the various features of a material that may be tunable or perhaps reveal a predictable property that will facilitate its utilization in an application. WEI-CHUAN SHIH, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Joined UH in 2009. NSF Award valued at up to $400,000. Shih is working on developing a new method to rapidly identify, count and profile bacteria with minimal sample preparation – a tool that could be of significant use in medical diagnostics, national security and food and environmental safety. At the heart of this method is Raman microspectroscopy, a technique of “fingerprinting” molecules by shining lasers on them. Exactly how a molecule causes the laser’s incident photons to scatter, as evidenced by a change in color, can be used for identification purposes. Traditional Raman microspectroscopy, however, examines only one small point at a time. As a result, imaging just a square millimeter can take several hours or longer, making it impractical outside the laboratory setting. Shih noted that although identifying specific bacteria types is the ultimate goal, it is likely that simply detecting the presence of bacteria can be useful in many situations outside the lab.
The original self-sorting system is nature, which uses incredibly complex mixtures of simple chemicals found in biological cells to produce sophisticated proteins such as DNA and other molecules of life.
Moeller is a fundamental materials research scientist who focuses on finding and developing textbook examples that will allow scientists to understand the inherent properties and mechanisms at work in certain materials.
In contrast, traditional organic chemistry is highly reductionist. Typically, a chemist reacts two molecules in isolation to produce a third one, and then purifies this product before reacting it further.
“In many cases, doctors just want a yes or no answer. They’re not looking to identify the bacteria, they just want to know if they are present,” Shih said. “If we can answer that question quickly and efficiently, there’s a real possibility that we could develop a system that is applicable to a clinical setting.” H
Moeller and her research group synthesize new materials, using a range of experimental techniques to characterize their properties at the atomic
Note: Professor Shih’s NSF award was announced too late for him to appear in the group photo.
Portrait of NSF Career Award recipients by Thomas Campbell.
S p r i n g 2 0 1 2 | UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON Ma gazine
P R O F E S S O R S
B by Marisa Ramirez (’00)
arton Smith is busy. He’s waiting for the arrival of crews who’ll be working on his home, and preparing to leave for a few weeks in Colorado for the arrival of his 20th grandchild. There are few dull moments. There rarely have been. The man who came to Houston 38 years ago on the good word of a National Geographic magazine article is now an emeritus professor of economics
opportunity. He came with a background in urban economics and public finance and a head crammed with new facts and figures about Houston. ‘Fortunately, there was a rather nice National Geographic article about Houston that gave me the courage to say ‘yes,’” he said. “What a fortuitous decision! Houston was so new. The Galleria was new, the suburbs didn’t go past 610, and downtown was growing.” In 1973, Houston boasted a population of little more than a million people; UH had just under 27,000 students. He didn’t realize then that he, Houston and UH were destined for big things. “The price of oil was less than $3 a barrel. As Houston’s growth soared the price of oil would increase tenfold,” Smith said. “What a laboratory Houston would become for an urban economist.” Though much of his academic work focused on national and international topics, much of his research utilized Houston data. His reputation for being a thorough researcher and reporter on the Houston economic climate was growing. In 1984, housing analyst Evert Crawford asked Smith to provide a forecast of Houston’s housing market. The report Smith generated sparked outrage from builders and developers, documenting an enormous excess supply of residential units and suggesting a serious pause in the region’s real estate markets. “So-called experts tried to refute my arguments, even calling the university’s board of regents demanding I be fired, but to no avail,” Smith said. “In the next six months I was invited to speak to many of the groups that initially opposed the data.”
Barton Smith at the University of Houston. Through his work with the then-Center for Public Policy and its Institute for Regional Forecasting (IRF), the name ‘Barton Smith’ has become synonymous with economic forecasting at UH and in Houston. Indeed, the growth of the three entities have paralleled each other. “When my wife and I crossed the border into Texas, we filled up our tank. Gas was 19 cents a gallon,” Smith said, recalling his travels in 1973 from the University of Chicago.
Portrait of Barton Smith by Thomas Campbell.
To be fair, Houston was not his first choice of locations. But UH made him an early offer that was available only for a short time and he jumped at the
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The bottom did fall out of the housing market and an oil-busted Houston wanted to know why. Industry experts took their questions to the man who had predicted it. What began as a challenge to his research became a call for regular presentations and, eventually, for the CPP’s Barton Smith Symposia, regular public presentations on Houston’s economic future. It also was the beginning of a longtime working relationship with Crawford. “I’ve been working with Bart since the early ’80s. With an indefatigable spirit, Bart has always exhibited the highest levels of personal and professional integrity,” said Crawford, now director of the IRF.
E M E R I T I
MITH IS BUSY Turnout at each of the twice-a-year presentations began with a modest 250 people, but grew into sellout events, with more than 1,000 people per session. “Houston deserves an IRF. There was no real voice objectively describing Houston’s economy,” Smith said. “Each time our forecasts were correct, our reputation grew.” Always the educator, Smith wanted his audiences to understand the economics and the internal and external forces that influence the community’s life and future. His “The Handbook on the Houston Economy,” which explained the nature of the local economy and provided forecasts for the greater Houston metropolitan area, was much in demand. “As one of the sponsors of the UH symposia, the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) has long valued Barton Smith’s expertise in observing and interpreting local economic trends, particularly as they relate to real estate,” said Bob Hale, president and CEO of HAR. “Dr. Smith always served as a fair and objective resource and provided our community an invaluable service.” Soon, other entities in Houston would call UH asking Barton Smith to gaze into his crystal ball. Smith has provided numerous economic impact studies, on, for example higher education and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Houston, now the fourth largest city in the country, became the calling card for Smith, and he its herald. The media also began calling. Local and national reporters had the name of Barton Smith in their Rolodexes for stories dealing with Houston and Texas economies. He always took the calls, eager to call attention to UH and Houston. “I know his number by heart because I’ve been talking to him for 20 years,” said Houston Chronicle business reporter L.M. “Wooty” Sixel. The symposium was her introduction to Smith. She recalls one news conference when she asked him about a prediction that fell short. “I remember he was surprised by the question, but he explained why he got it off kilter,” Sixel said. “Over the years I think he enjoyed that recurring question and prepared for it. He’d say, ‘OK, before Wooty asks, last year I predicted this and I was off and this is why.’ Every time I talked with him I learned something about the Houston economy.”
To quote Barton Smith, “Houston
is hard to define in simple terms.” Still, scores of business
In the mid-1990s the CPP spun off the Institute for Regional Forecasting, which Smith directed. “In my four-plus decades at UH, no other professor has done more to connect the academy to the broader community than Barton Smith,” said Political Science Professor and colleague Richard Murray. “Houston has one of the most dynamic urban economies in the world, and Bart has explained the local patterns in an extraordinarily clear manner.”
professionals sought his perspective on just such a definition. Below are his top five predictions for Houston, Texas and the nation:
1. Houston will continue to outpace the national economy, but over the next year the gap between Houston, Texas and the U.S. will narrow as Texas and the nation have a better year in 2012, while Houston cools down from last year’s unsustainable energy boom.
In 2011, persistent health issues had the last word and Smith opted to retire. He had joined a modest university in the early 1970s, and had worked along side it as it developed into a Tier One institution in a city whose swampy beginnings had led to a metropolis diverse in population and economy.
2. If improvement in the U.S. economy is
As a Professor Emeritus, he may decide to teach a cost-benefits analysis class in the department of economics (the teacher in him still longs for a classroom of students) or consult. But these last few months since his official retirement have included more time away from campus. A Barton Smith sighting in McElhinney Hall on campus is rare as he’s now drawn to other things. He continues to speak to groups and write (he’s currently working on a book), but he has a passion for the great outdoors. Last summer, he and his wife sailed a 38-foot sailboat from Juneau Alaska and Glacier Bay National Park to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, untethered by professional distractions. Still, he did find himself surfing the Internet checking on Houston and economic news. He and his wife are contemplating service missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to which they belong.
3. Houston’s energy sector will struggle even
“Houston and UH have grown old along with Barton Smith,” he said. “But more important than academics, Houston turned out to be the perfect place to raise a family.” His five children are now scattered around the country, including Colorado where his newest grandchild is. And as he contemplates the world his granddaughter will inherit, he is at ease.
accompanied by further decline of the national savings rate, then the U.S. debt problem will begin to mirror the Euro Zone crises. Both the federal government and American households remain way over their head in debt. more with low natural gas prices offsetting high oil prices. The future of oil prices remain a hard call because counterbalancing forces are at work. Lost supply from Libya, Iraq and Iran threaten to push oil prices higher, but weak demand from the Euro Zone-crisis-induced global slowdown is working in the opposite direction. Right now my best guess is that the former will continue to rule the markets.
4. It is critical that Houston’s port, airports, trucking and rail facilities keep up with opportunities. Not only will this increase the flow of goods traveling through Houston, but also enhance Houston’s position as a base for international corporations and make Houston-based exporters more competitive.
5. Houston has tremendously high insurance rates and high property taxes. Reducing the risks of regional flooding and accidents on our freeways will require a committed investment in the region’s long run future. Local governments need to apply sound financial management principles, such as avoiding risky unfunded liabilities that simply push fiscal problems on to the next administration. In other words, we can’t take our future for granted. We need to be smart.
“The 21st century will present to her great challenges, but also mind-boggling opportunities. I’d like her to be aware constantly that she’s living in a society where the door is wide open for women,” Smith said. “She is so fortunate to have been born in this country at this time and she should remember that one of the greatest virtues in life is gratitude.” H S p r i n g 2 0 1 2 | UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON Ma gazine
Sweet Success in Sugar Land Center becomes UH Campus to meet area’s needs by Shawn Lindsey
he Sugar Land area has been growing like crazy – and the University of Houston is taking a big step to keep up with that phenomenal growth. The 17-yearold teaching center in Sugar Land has just become a full-fledged branch campus of UH.
Nearly 40 percent of Fort Bend County residents are college educated, compared to the state average of 23 percent.
The UH System regents voted to expand the academic programs offered at the Sugar Land site and officially change administrative ownership from the UH System to the University of Houston in late 2011. This important change means a net increase in UH programs offered in Sugar Land while maintaining access to programs currently offered by UH Clear Lake (UHCL) and UH Victoria (UHV). As a result, at least nine new academic programs will be offered at the UH Sugar Land Campus during the next three years, doubling the number of UH programs offered at the site, according to John Antel, UH provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “We have a plan in place with the people in Sugar Land to develop a larger presence in that area,” says Antel. “We’re working with the community
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to accommodate the needs of its workforce by offering a range of new programs focused on technology, business and education.” Keeping up with the area’s tremendous development has certainly been a challenge. Fort Bend County, where Sugar Land is located, is now home to 600,000 residents, and its population is expected to double in the next 15 to 20 years, making it one of the fastest growing counties in Texas and the United States. Fort Bend County leaders have long been vocal about their desire for the Sugar Land operation to match the region’s impressive growth. “It’s natural for the community to think we are moving too slow and for the university to think we are moving too fast,” said Jeffrey Wiley, president of the Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council. “The reconciliation is to understand both sides, more aggressively look at the campus as an asset, create programs and show they can be successful.” Since 1995, the campus has been developed through partnerships with other UH System institutions, Wharton County Junior College — which delivers lower-cost freshman and sophomore level courses that transfer to UH System partner institutions — as well as businesses and local government entities. The result is financial savings and convenience for students during a time of limited state resources. Fort Bend County and the higher education partners at UH Sugar Land just completed a University Branch Library on the campus that serves both the community and the school’s faculty and students at a fraction of the cost of an independent university library. Current negotiations are also under way with a local business to share costs in the construction and operation of a multi-use academic facility.
“There is meeting of the minds that this is mutually beneficial...” —Jeffrey Wiley, president, Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council
Wiley says continued growth at UH Sugar Land is an integral part of the area’s economic development strategy. “UH Sugar Land becoming a part of the UH main campus shows us there is a real leadership commitment from President Renu Khator and the UH System regents,” says Wiley. “There is a meeting of the minds that it is mutually beneficial to build this out and to meet the needs of the community while remaining financially prudent.” Amy DeMarco is a longtime resident of the area who started full time at UH in 2010, after spending several years fundraising for nonprofits. In spring 2011, she began taking all of her early childhood education classes at the Sugar Land site. “Traveling here is a huge convenience,” says DeMarco, who is scheduled to graduate next spring. “It’s close to home, but beyond that, the Sugar Land campus is like family. My adviser is always available, I have formed bonds with the other students, and there is a close community atmosphere.”
Among the UH degree programs recently added to UH Sugar Land are Master of Science degrees in human resource development and project management, as well as a Doctor of Education in professional leadership. In addition, UH has added a program in Speech Language Pathology that is the only program of its kind in the state, and UH Sugar Land is home to the UH System’s only nursing program, responding to an identified regional workforce need. Local officials are pleased with the continued expansion of UH Sugar Land and the overall impact it will have on the region. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the city of Sugar Land and for UH,” says Sugar Land Mayor James A. Thompson. “We look forward to these academic offerings complementing our local economy.” H
DeMarco currently teaches pre-kindergarten and plans on becoming a primary school teacher and staying in the area, but not before completing her master’s degree. She is like many other professionals in the area who are pursuing, or plan to pursue, their master’s credentials. According to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data, 39 percent of Fort Bend County residents are college educated, compared to the state average of 23 percent. “There is a clear demand in this area for additional graduate degree programs,” says Marshall Schott, UH associate vice president for university outreach. “A large number of professionals have bachelor’s or postbaccalaureate training and want to enhance their careers. This campus will help deliver master’s programs to residents of Sugar Land and nearby areas.”
Students can enroll in several new academic programs that will be added during the next three years.
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AlumPROFILE Q&A by Mike Emery
Houston is a special place for Wade Phillips. Last year, the veteran NFL coach returned to town as defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans. Under his direction, the team’s defense was instrumental in earning the franchise’s first playoff berth. From 1976 – 80, Phillips was part of the “Luv Ya Blue”-era Houston Oilers. He oversaw the team’s defensive line under coaching legend and dad O.A. “Bum” Phillips during the team’s most successful years. It was at the University of Houston, however, that Phillips’ coaching career started. After playing for the Cougars as a linebacker (briefly under his father who coached the defense) from 1965 – 68, Phillips graduated with a bachelor of science in speech and physical education. In 1969, he accepted a position as graduate assistant under head coach Bill Yeoman. Since then, Phillips has been on the sidelines guiding a number of teams as either a defensive coordinator or head coach. Houston is the latest stop on Phillips’ 40-year football journey, and he admits to having a fondness for the Bayou City. It’s close enough, so he can regularly visit his large family (parents, five sisters, nieces and nephews). It’s also not too far away from son Wesley, an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys. Plus, the convenient airports offer him and wife Laurie easy access to visit dancer/choreographer daughter Tracy on the West Coast. Q: What inspired you to attend the University of Houston? A: My dad coached me in high school in Port Neches then he took the defensive coordinator position at UH. I visited Texas A&M and had a scholarship at the University of Alabama. But my dad’s a pretty big influence in my life, so I went to UH. I had the opportunity to play in the Astrodome, the Eighth Wonder of the World. We had about 55 freshmen, a very strong class, a lot of good players. It was a great opportunity to get things going at UH. Q: How would you describe your years at UH? A: It was a great experience for me. I certainly grew up a lot. School was important to me. Coach (Bill) Yeoman always emphasized not only football but going to classes. I knew I wasn’t going to be a football player after college, so I wanted to be ready for the outside world. Q: UH played at the Dome when you were a player and a coach. When you attended a game this year, what was it like to be at Robertson Stadium? A: It was great. That was the first time I had been back to see a game on campus. The atmosphere was exciting and fans were really into it. And they introduced me on the field. It was nice folks still remembered me. Makes you feel good.
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Q: There’s a lot of talk about building a new stadium. What are your thoughts on the team getting a new home? A: It would be great for the university. It will fill up. The fans are very supportive, and it will help as UH moves into the Big East and enters a new era. The program seems to be moving forward. A new stadium will certainly help. Q: You’re known as @SonofBum on Twitter. Are you an active Tweeter? A: I don’t know about active. I do it sometimes. When I was the head coach for the Dallas Cowboys, I started doing it. I got about 7,000 people following me. I got away from it for a while. These days, I’ll tweet about the Texans or going to a UH game or something like that. I don’t know if people want know about that kind of stuff, but it’s kind of fun to do. Q: You’re a pretty busy guy, but you’re known to make the rounds on the Texas high school football circuit, correct? A: True. I went to a few playoff games last year. A friend of mine was coaching at Westfield, and I went to see the team play. The year before that I went to the playoffs in Argyle. And I have a friend who coaches for Martin in Arlington, so I try to see the team when I can. I like to see high
Phillips school players and coaches and the enthusiasm they have for the game. Q: You’ve been in Houston on and off through the years. What kind of changes have you noticed since you returned? A: (Laughing) Besides the traffic? It’s always been a big city, but it keeps growing. I think it still has the same feeling about sports, especially football. People love their football…high school, college and pro football. Football is king here in Houston and always has been. Q: UH is headed to the Big East, but when you played here, it was independent. What was that like? A: Well, we played a lot of Southeast Conference teams like Ole Miss, Mississippi State and a lot of teams from all over the country. Michigan State was certainly a big game for us. That was the number one team in the country. The University of Texas at Austin was the only Southwest Conference team that played us. We ended up tying them in a ball game one year, which was a big deal because they were having a great year. We played teams from all over the country, making a name for ourselves and winning games. Q: When you’re not coaching or watching football, how do you spend your time? A: Mostly family stuff. When I was away from Texas, most of my vacations were spent coming back here to see family. When I’m not seeing my parents, I’m probably visiting any of my five sisters and my nieces and nephews. We’re a strong family, so I spend a lot of time with them, especially with my dad. He’s 88 now. Those kind of things are important to me.
This ‘Son of Bum’ Is Back in the Bayou City… Remembering His Cougar Roots
and the team. It’s been great for both of us. Q: You played for your father and worked for him? Which was tougher? A: Playing for him was harder. In high school, he told me that not only would I have to be better than the guys I’d be competing with, but everyone would have to know it. I expect a lot of myself, but he expects quite a bit, too. At UH, Coach Yeoman started me my sophomore year. That was his decision. But I heard from other coaches that my dad didn’t want to start me. Q: You’ve been in and out of Texas for various jobs. When you were away, what did you miss most? A: The people. It’s amazing how nice and friendly people are. There are good people everywhere, but here, it’s easier to get to know people. They seem friendlier. When you grow up a Texan, you’re proud of it. Q: Now that you’re back in town, do you touch base with your former UH coach and mentor Bill Yeoman? A: Coach and I have stayed in contact. He means a lot to me. He’s the guy who helped me get started. The way he coached, the way he treated people, the way he worked with people…that was important to me. Q: Is there anything football has taught you about life? A: The main thing is that if you work hard, good things will happen for you. H
Q: Was your father excited to see you return to Houston? A: Elated. He was pushing for it. Houston is a lot closer to where he lives now (in Goliad) so I’m able to see him more. He lives football through me these days, so he likes to talk about players
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