CLASS NEWS is brought to you by the Office of Communications for the University of Houston's College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.
CLASS NEWS follow us on:
University of Houston
August 2014

Four internationally acclaimed artist-scholars join the CLASS faculty

Top Story
The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences worked closely with its highly-respected arts units to recruit four artist academics known for exceptional creativity and scholarship to join the CLASS faculty this fall. Poet and visual scholar Roberto Tejada will join the Department of English and its Creative Writing Program as the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing. Alumnus Michael Ray Charles returns to UH as Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Painting in the School of Art. Award-winning playwright and screenwriter Theresa Rebeck brings her considerable talents to the School of Theatre & Dance as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Playwriting. And Maestro Raymond Harvey takes the podium as Moores School of Music’s new music director for the Moores Opera Center.
Alumni Spotlight – Dylan Paul

Alumnus Dylan Paul makes his Broadway debut in Cabaret

A Broadway debut in the revival of the Tony-award winning production of a musical classic directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes and starring Tony winner Alan Cumming is a fantasy made real for CLASS alumnus Dylan Paul. read more

Student Spotlight – Alma White

Dance Program scholarship sends outstanding student to New York this summer

This summer the Dance Program and the student dance organization, University Dance Theater, granted a $250 scholarship to junior Alma White after she auditioned and was invited to join a the Dance Theatre of Harlem summer intensive training program. read more

More in the News

Announcing the 2014-2015 arts season in CLASS

The combination of the humanities, social and health sciences, and performing and visual arts within CLASS allows for interdisciplinary collaboration that can ignite imaginative research and deepen scholarly understanding of creativity. Add these exhibitions, performances and lectures to your calendars and plan to come to campus often to enjoy them. read more

UH's Weber to lead Houston Symphony ChorusHouston Chronicle
"Betsy Cook Weber, director of choral studies at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music, will take charge of the Houston Symphony Chorus in September as longtime director Charles Hausmann steps down. Hausmann, director of graduate choral conducting at the Moores School, has led the symphony chorus since 1986, working with conductors including Hans Graf, Christoph Eschenbach and Robert Shaw."


Houston Symphony's choral director Hausmann steps downHouston Chronicle
Charles Hausmann thinks of the Houston Symphony Chorus as more than simply a musical group he directs.

"When you've been with a chorus for as long as I've been - 28 years - you actually work as a family," Hausmann says. "You become so close to them. You're sharing yourself with them, and they're sharing themselves with you. There's a communion that happens."

After sharing that communion through more than 150 choral works, Hausmann is stepping down. Sept. 1, he'll pass the baton to Betsy Cook Weber - like him, a music professor at the University of Houston - and the chorus will give him the title of director emeritus.

Since Hausmann will continue working on- and off-campus, including as choir director at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, he's far from retiring. "I prefer to say reinventing," he says.

Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle/Dave Rossman, freelance

Houston Shakespeare Festival turns 40Houston Chronicle
“Life begins - again - at 40 for the Houston Shakespeare Festival. Given a company devoted to classics more than four centuries old, that span may not seem a marvel of longevity.

“But look at it this way. With this year's productions of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" (opening today) and "Henry IV, Part 1" (opening Saturday), the festival has presented two free Shakespeare productions at Miller Outdoor Theatre each summer for 40 consecutive years. It has played to thousands of people each summer and, for many, has represented their first experience of live classical theater. That's an achievement, especially when one considers the arts companies that have folded their tents in those years, here and across the nation.

“The festival is poised to begin writing a new chapter, with new leadership to determine its future and increasing emphasis on diversity.”

Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle/Dave Rossman, freelance

CLASS Faculty in the Media

Moores School of Music Director Andrew Davis was recently profiled in the Houston Chronicle article, New Moores School director plans more community involvement.

Emran El-Badawi, assistant professor of Arabic language and literature, served as an expert on the turbulent situation in Iraq during a recent KRIV-FoX26 news report titled, University of Houston professor explains how Iraq crisis affects U.S.

Jessica Brown, assistant professor of sociology, discussed some of the reasons children from Central America are trying to enter the U.S. and ideas for solving the crisis on ABC13’s Viva, Segment 1.

The influx of undocumented children entering the U.S. was also discussed on the Houston Matters program, How Houston Groups are Responding to the Issue of Undocumented Children Entering the US. Jeronimo Cortina, assistant professor of political science, was featured on the program.

The difficulty of learning a second language was the topic of the Does learning a second language lead to a new identity? article written by Arturo Hernandez, professor of psychology that appeared in a recent issue of the Oxford University Press's blog.

The Root recently highlighted research and a book written by Gerald Horne, professor of history and African-American studies, in its US Slaves Fought Against America’s Independence? article

New outlets continue to cover the research study about deceptive food labeling conducted by Temple Northup, assistant professor of communications:
The Washington Post recently ran an article by Brandon Rottinghaus, associate professor of political science, titled How big could the Scott Walker scandal be? The article poses key questions about how a scandal surrounding Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will affect his future political and electoral prospects.

Rottinghaus was also featured on Houston Matters program in a segment entitled Mayors: A Different Kind of Politician?, which aired in conjunction with the 82nd annual meeting of the US Conference of Mayors held in Dallas.

Robert Zaretsky, professor of history, recently wrote an article titled, Like the physics of a black hole, the novel’s plot is simple, yet confounding which ran in Times Higher Education.

CLASS Alumni/ae Notes

Here’s an all-arts edition of the CLASS Alumni/ae Notes in celebration of the upcoming arts season in CLASS. Whether at the start of their professional careers or reaching a new pinnacle of success, our former students are arts leaders and culture innovators.
Don Bacigalupi
Don Bacigalupi, president of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., has organized what the New York Times calls “an ambitious fall show that will present a snapshot of unheralded 21st century American art.” He and museum assistant curator selected 102 artists for “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now,” which will open on Sept. 13. Baciagalupi graduated summa cum laude in 1983 with a bachelor’s in art history from the School of Art. He went on to earn master and doctorate degrees in art history from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a former director and chief curator of the Blaffer Art Museum.
Nina McConigley
Nina McConigley, a 2006 MFA in Fiction, has been recognized with a 2014 PEN Open Book Award for her story collection Cowboys and East Indians (FiveChapters Books, 2013.) While at UH, McConigley served as the Non-Fiction Editor of Gulf Coast: a Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. She is a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Wyoming.
Derek Cecil
School of Theatre & Dance alumnus Derek Cecil is a featured actor in the second season of the popular Netflix series, House of Cards. He performed the role of Seth Grayson in nine episodes. After graduating from UH, Cecil attended the American Conservatory Theater's Advanced Training Program in San Francisco. His professional resume also includes a recurring role in the Fox series Pasadena and the lead role on ABC’s experimental series Push, Nevada.
Tara Faircloth
The work of Stage Director Tara Faircloth, a 2006 Master of Music in Voice, has been seen in opera houses around the nation. This year, she led productions of Carmen with Wolf Trap Opera in Vienna, Va.; Le Nozze di Figaro with Atlanta Opera, and Fidelio at Madison Opera in Wisconson. Wolf Trap’s Carmen in July used new supertitle technology to allow audiences to follow the narrative from their mobile, tablet or Google Glass devices.
Geoff Hippenstiel
Alumna Lacy M. Johnson is touring in support of her book, The Other Side: A Memoir, which was published in July by Tin House Books. Dr. Johnson earned her Ph.D. in Creative Writing at UH and is the Director of Academic Initiatives for the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Her memoir about surviving horrific domestic violence is garnering significant media attention:
Geoff Hippenstiel
Geoff Hippenstiel , who earned his BFA ’06 and MFA ’10 from the School of Art, recently had two solo exhibitions – “Monochromes” as part of the Volta NY invitational solo project fair for contemporary art and presented by Makebish Gallery, New York City, and “Murder Ballad” at the Holly Johnson Gallery in Dallas. His work has been reviewed in publications such as Art in America and included in the “Outside the Lines” exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
Janine Joseph
Janine Joseph, a CLASS Dissertation Completion Fellow who received her Ph.D. in Creative Writing in 2012, has been awarded the 2014 Kundiman Poetry Prize, which honors “exceptional work by Asian American poets.” The award comes with $1,000 and a book publishing contract with Alice James Books, an affiliate of the University of Maine at Farmington. Dr. Joseph won for her manuscript Driving Without a License, which she describes as “a remix of my dissertation.” Alice James Books has the book slated for release in spring 2016. Dr. Joseph is an assistant professor of English at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.
Joni Perez, who graduated from the Moores School of Music with a degree in Music Education, has earned national recognition for her direction of The Woodlands High School band, including winning the prestigious Bands of America Grand National Championship last year. She was recently featured on the cover of School Band & Orchestra magazine. The article, Upclose: Joni Perez, details her journey from UH student to directing one of the best high school bands in the U.S.
Edward Porter
Edward Porter, a Dissertation Completion Fellow who received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing in 2013, has been named a Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University for 2014-16. Stegner Fellows are regarded by Stanford as working artists for the two years they are in residence on or near campus. The honor comes with a living stipend, but does not have curricular requirements other than workshop attendance and writing.
Edward Porter
Octavia Art Gallery of New Orleans has expanded to a second office and gallery space by acquiring space in Houston and appointing School of Art alumna Illa Steen Gaunt as director of its Houston operations. While completing her master’s degree in art history, Gaunt was a contributing writer UH graduate student-run Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. In November 2013, she wrote about the Blaffer Art Museum’s Feast exhibition.
Princeton Miles
Moores School of Music alumnus Princeton Miles was featured on the Houston Matters program, Princeton Miles: How Classical Training Influenced an R&B Album. Miles’ graduated from UH in December 2013 and his first EP is called “Hear Me.”

August 1 – 10: Houston Shakespeare Festival
Presented by the School of The School of Theatre & Dance, this summer’s 40th anniversary production of the Houston Shakespeare Festival presents The Two Gentlemen from Verona and Henry IV, Part 1. All performances at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park begin at 8:30 p.m. and are free.

Now – Aug. 30: Francesca DiMattio: Housewares exhibition at Blaffer Art Museum

Housewares’ paintings and sculpture depict familiar objects within unfamiliar contexts. Furniture, architecture, and household items collide in the paintings, while the sculptures incorporate the traditional and radical to challenge notions of the decorative and femininity.

Now – Sept. 6: Candice Breitz: The Woods exhibition at Blaffer Art Museum
The Woods delivers a trilogy of video installations exploring the performance of childhood and capturing adolescent actors on and off camera working in the entertainment industries in Los Angeles (Hollywood), Mumbai (Bollywood) and Lagos (Nollywood.)

August 23 and 24 – Provost Summer Read Program seminars
The inaugural Provost Summer Read Program launches this summer with Step Out On Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life's Challenges by Byron Pitts. The program involves a series of activities that will allow you to engage in a discussion of a common book with a member of the faculty and your fellow students from the Class of 2018. Seminars will be led by UH faculty, consist of 25 students or less, and are scheduled for an hour between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Saturday, August 23, and Sunday, August 24. Sign up here.

For more events, check the CLASS calendar.

Support CLASS, Give online at

Give to the University of Houston  Find CLASS on Facebook  Follow CLASS on twitter