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CLASS faculty and staff gathered on August 24, 2012 to welcome the new faculty members.

New non-tenure track faculty join CLASS

Instructional, clinical and visiting professors enrich the College

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences welcomes its new non-tenure track faculty members. The instructional, clinical and visiting professors enrich the College with their unique contributions.

This year, the Department of English is fortunate to have author ZZ Packer joining its Creative Writing Program as a visiting assistant professor. Ms. Packer’s short stories have been featured in The New Yorker’s Debut Fiction (2000) and 20 Under 40 Fiction (2010) issues.

Dr. Wyman Herendeen, chair of the Department of English, said of Ms. Packer’s appointment, “There are times when the stars are in alignment and we are able to bring a visiting professor to the Department and Program who provides a voice and aesthetic that will add a special artistic richness and range that we don’t otherwise have.”

Also new to the faculty is Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Smith, the battalion commander of the Houston Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. Cadets from schools throughout the Houston area participate in the ROTC program housed in CLASS on the UH campus.

Read more about the new faculty members below.

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African American Studies Program

Courtney L. Thompson, Visiting Scholar

Courtney L. Thompson

Dr. Courtney L. Thompson is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work focuses on political discourse in Black women’s writings. In 2011, she earned her PhD in American Studies with an area of concentration in literature from Purdue University. Currently, she is a Visiting Scholar in African American Studies at the University of Houston where she is working on her book manuscript, tentatively titled “We Are Fighting for Democracy”: Black Women Activists and the Pursuit of All Things Equal, 1920s-Present. The book reflects her broader research interests in the African American literary tradition, American political discourse, progressive movements, and Black feminist theory. In addition to presenting her work nationally and internationally, Dr. Thompson has given invited lectures and shared her work in the community. She has taught courses on the African diaspora, Black women’s activism, Black women writers, and Black autobiography in the U.S.


Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Michelle Ivey, Assistant Clinical Professor

Michelle Ivey

Michelle Ivey received her Ph.D. in the Education of Children with Exceptionalities from Georgia State University in Atlanta.  Her dissertation was on the use of priming to increase spontaneous verbal communication in children with autism spectrum disorders, which is a disorder area that she is passionate about and her main area of expertise.  Dr. Ivey is a member of the core faculty for a Lonestar Leadership in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders (LEND) training grant with colleagues in the Texas Medical Center.  She has been teaching and providing clinical education in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders for the past few years and joins the faculty full time this fall.

Department of Economics

Joel Meléndez-Lugo, Visiting Assistant Professor

Joel Melendez-Lugo

Joel Melendez-Lugo completed his Ph.D. in economics here at the University of Houston in August 2012. His dissertation, "Access to Credit, Market Selection and Economic Growth," used non-public U.S. Census Bureau confidential microdata authorized under Special Sworn Status. As an undergraduate, he double majored in Economics and Sociology at the University of Puerto Rico, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 2002.


Adam W. Perdue, Visiting Assistant Professor

Adam W. Perdue

Adam Perdue earned his bachelor's, masters, and doctoral degrees in economics at the University of Houston. He was awarded his PhD in 2012. His dissertation is titled "Essays in Urban Economics and Local Labor Markets: The Role of Concentrations of Employment." He also holds a UH bachelor's degree in civil and environmental engineering. He was honored in 2010 with a Departmental Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Department of English

Craig Beaven, Visiting Assistant Professor/ Post-Doctoral Fellow

Craig Beaven

Craig Bevan took his Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing here at the University of Houston, where he won a Presidential Fellowship and a Glenn Cambor Inprint Fellowship. In addition to a number of awards and recognitions for his poetry, Craig Bevan has taught writing and rhetoric, creative writing, and Shakespeare at the University of Houston and Virginia Commonwealth University. He brings professional writing experience to our program from his years as the Senior Development Writer at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Antonio Elefano, Visiting Assistant Professor/ Post-Doctoral Fellow

Antonio Elefano

Antonio Elefano studied Rhetoric at Texas A&M, and then received the highest grade offered in Advanced Legal Writing at Yale Law School, where he took his Doctor Juris. In addition to practicing law at Kaye Scholer law firm, he was one of the few associates comprising the Kaye Scholer faculty who taught writing to junior associates. From law, Antonio went on to complete an MFA at Boston University and to teach creative writing. He’s been honored twice with the Charles Gordone Award for Best Fiction of 2001 and Best Play of 2002.

Kelly Moore, Visiting Assistant Professor/ Post-Doctoral Fellow

Kelly Moore

Kelly Moore completed her Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston, where she won a Barthelme award for nonfiction and received Honorable Mention for the Academy of American Poets. Kelly brings yet another set of pedagogical skills and training to our program, having taught advanced-level technical writing, and developing online instructional tools; additionally, she has worked as a writing consultant with HCC, teaching ESL students, and she has been the writer in residence at Writers in the Schools here in Houston.

Zack O’Neill, Visiting Assistant Professor/ Post-Doctoral Fellow

Zack O'Neill

Zack O’Neill earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Black Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2000 and a master’s degree in English from California State University, Sacramento in 2007. He received his M.F.A. in 2011 from the University of South Carolina, where he was a James Dickey Fellow, editor of the literary journal Yemassee, and an instructor of composition and rhetoric in the First Year English program. He also taught undergraduate creative writing for the English department. Professor O’Neill is the author of Soil of the Garden, a finalist in the 2010 Faulkner-Wisdom creative writing competition. His work has appeared in The Homestead Review, Ophelia Street, The Delinquent, As It Ought to Be, and elsewhere. As a Writing Fellow at UH, he will Composition, Fiction, and Rhetoric.

ZZ Packer, Visiting Assistant Professor

ZZ Packer

ZZ Packer joins us this Fall as Visiting Assistant Professor in English and Creative Writing. She is teaching a graduate Fiction Workshop and an advanced undergraduate class in Short Story Writing. ZZ was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, did her undergraduate degree at Yale, and an MFA at the University of Iowa. She has taught most recently at Princeton, and at the University of California, Berkeley, Vassar, and the University of Texas, Austin. Her fiction has have been published in all the major international literary forums, including The New Yorker, Granta, and Harpers, among others. ZZ’s collection of short stories, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, was a national bestseller, a NYT Notable Book, and a National Book Award winner. Her novel, The Thousands, about the Buffalo Soldiers in the post-Civil War years, is forthcoming from SpiegelGrau.

Department of Hispanic Studies

María E. Pérez, Instructional Assistant Professor

Maria E. Perez

María E. Pérez is a recent PhD graduate from the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston, where she also finished her master’s degree. While completing her coursework and dissertation she taught as a graduate fellow in the Basic and Intermediate Spanish program, and she was recognized as Teaching Fellow of the Year in 2008-2009. Her research interests include Caribbean and US Latino Literature, gender and film studies. María has lived in six different countries in Latin America, and loves to have the opportunity to share the Hispanic culture with her students. She is delighted to return to her alma mater to work with the dual duties of Graduate Adviser and Instructional Assistant Professor.

Department of History

Matthew D. Tribbe, Visiting Assistant Professor

Matthew D. Tribbe

Matt Tribbe earned his Ph.D. in U.S. History at the University of Texas at Austin in 2010. His dissertation, “The Rocket and the Tarot: The Apollo Moon Landings and American Culture at the Dawn of the Seventies,” examines American cultural trends in the 1960s and 1970s through the lens of the Apollo moon landings. It won the Barnes Lathrop Prize for Best Dissertation in the Department of History at UT-Austin, and the revised manuscript has recently passed the peer review process at Oxford University Press. He has received fellowships from the National Air and Space Museum and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center and delivered papers at the History of Science Society and the Norman Mailer Society. Dr. Tribbe has lectured at the University of Texas at Austin for the past two years, teaching a variety of lower and upper division U.S. history courses, including courses for the Liberal Arts Honors Program.

Department of Modern and Classical Languages

Michael Adair-Kriz, Visiting Assistant Professor

Michael Adair-Kriz

Michael Adair-Kriz is a visual anthropologist joining the World Cultures and Literatures program. He will teach World Cinema and Gender and Sexuality in World Film courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Adair-Kriz has taught courses in our program since 2010. He conducted his doctoral research in Chile with gay Mormons and stencil street artists. He earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Rice University, an M.A. in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University, and a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University. Dr. Adair-Kriz has recently been researching barriers to organ donation as part of a National Institutes for Health -funded grant to improve national donation outcomes. Dr. Adair-Kriz is also creator, director, and producer of a film for the American Anthropological Association entitled Careers in Anthropology. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Adair-Kriz held various positions in the film and television industry including in production, writing, and publicity.

Michael Fares, Instructional Assistant Professor

Michael Fares

Michael Fares joins the Arab Studies program and will teach Arabic language courses in support of the new Arab Studies minor. He graduated last spring with an M.A. in Arabic from the University of Texas at Austin, and has a strong background in foreign language pedagogy. His research interests include Arabic applied linguistics as well as medieval and modern Arabic literature.


Military Science Program

Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Smith, Professor of Military Science and Battalion Commander

LTC Michael Smith

LTC Michael Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Old Dominion University and a master’s degree in human resources from the University of Oklahoma, Norman. He began his commission in the United States Army in 1993 as a Second Lieutenant in the Transportation Corps. In his 19- year career, he has served as a Platoon Leader, Company Commander and held several staff positions from Battalion, Brigade, and Division level commands. He also served as a senior advisor to the Afghanistan National Police.

Moores School of Music

Julie Kastner, Visiting Assistant Professor

Julie Kastner

Julie Kastner is completing her Ph.D. in music education at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on early childhood music, and she’s won honors at both Michigan State and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, where she received her Bachelor of Music. For four years, she taught elementary general music in the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, as well as early childhood music at the Levine School of Music in Washington, DC, a nationally recognized community music school.

Brett Mitchell, Clinical Assistant Professor

Brett Mitchell

Brett Mitchell earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in conducting from the University of Texas at Austin and is the new music director of the Moores Opera Center. Brett began his association with the Moores opera program while he was working as Assistant Conductor of the Houston Symphony. One of his most memorable conducting assignments for UH was Daniel Catán’s Il Postino in spring 2011. He is currently music director of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and is also cover conductor for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Among his many career accomplishments are serving as assistant conductor of the National Orchestra of France and as Director of Orchestras at Northern Illinois University.

Department of Political Science

Jeffrey Bryan Cole, Instructional Assistant Professor

Jeffrey Bryan Cole

Bryan Cole is a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, who prides himself on being already accustomed to the Gulf Coast climate. He comes to Houston after earning his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University. Dr. Cole is a specialist in American politics whose very topical dissertation examines the effects of voter registration laws on voter turnout. His broader research interests include issues surrounding political participation, political polarization and the impact of religion on the political process. Dr. Cole is part of a new instructional team that is focusing on teaching the very important Core Courses in American and Texas Constitution and Government.

Cyrus Contractor, Instructional Assistant Professor

Cyrus Contractor

Cyrus Contractor is the other half of the Political Science Department’s new team of instructional specialists for the first-year American and Texas Government courses. He grew up in Texas and did his undergraduate and graduate studies at University of Texas at Arlington. He is enjoying returning to Texas after completing his doctorate at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Contractor’s dissertation investigated the effects of Shi’a narratives on Shi’a political and social participation in the United States. In addition to teaching courses on American politics, he has taught courses in International Relations and Politics of the Middle East.

Department of Sociology

Maria A. Monserud, Visiting Assistant Professor

Maria Monserud

Maria Monserud received her Ph.D. at Washington State University and held a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Her research and teaching interests focus on Intergenerational relationships, minority health and aging. In her recent work on health outcomes among older Mexicans in the United States and Mexico, Dr. Monserud explores the associations between family factors, social embeddedness, and psychological well-being that are conditioned by gender and where you were born. She will contribute to the Department’s core research courses as well as its strengths in comparative international work.

Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program

Rachel Afi Quinn, Postdoctoral Fellow

Rachel Afi Quinn

Dr. Rachel Afi Quinn earned her Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies with a concentration in Cultural Anthropology from Weslayan University in 1999. She will be working on publications from her dissertation on the dynamics of representation of Dominican mixed-race women in the United States and in the Dominican Republic. She will teach the Introduction to Women's Studies course this fall and a course on globalization in the Comparative Cultural Studies Department in spring 2013.