The University of Houston would not be the Tier One institution it is today without the significant contributions of its world-class teachers and researchers. But exactly how does UH consistently recruit a first-rate faculty?
It’s more complicated than you might think.
In identifying and hiring new tenure-track faculty positions, the colleges must take into account several factors, including budget allocations, student demand, curriculum, research needs and the instructional needs of the degree program. Once these factors have all been considered and confirmed, the department creates a specific job description and search committee.
When a new faculty position opens, the Office of the Provost works with the college and department leadership to ensure they have the strongest pool of applicants available. In addition to advertising on numerous job boards, search committees will recruit at professional conferences hosted by national and international academic organizations. Applicants typically submit a dossier that includes a letter of introduction, a summary of research, letters of recommendation and teaching philosophy. The biggest challenge, says Associate Provost for Faculty Development F. Richard Olenchak, is competing with so many institutions in the U.S. and abroad.
“Every university in the world wants to employ the most outstanding faculty talent possible,” Olenchak said. “The good news for UH is that we have remarkable leadership, a lovely urban campus, a tremendous collection of existing faculty and student talent and a pleasant, supportive atmosphere.”
Another important consideration in faculty recruitment is diversity. Equal Opportunity Services (EOS) reviews the language of the ads, the list of candidates and the makeup of search committees to ensure the University is adhering to equal opportunity laws. EOS compares UH’s faculty diversity levels to census data to determine areas within a department where diversity might be lacking. With this information, it makes recommendations to the hiring department of how best to encourage a strong, diverse pool of applicants. Though EOS and the Office of the Provost assist in the faculty hiring process, it is the hiring department that makes the final hiring decision.
Richard A. Baker, vice president of EOS, compares the whole process to a race. “We’re looking for the best runner in that race, and we want to encourage all different types of groups to participate,” Baker said.
To the candidates, the race is not so much a sprint as it is a marathon. The entire process can take a semester or longer, says Maria Elena Soliño, associate professor and president of the UH Faculty Senate.
To ensure a department is covering as many areas of learning and research as possible for the benefit of the students, each professor must have a very specific area of expertise.
“Everybody who’s hired is very specialized,” says Soliño. “ That offers our students a range that other universities don’t tend to have.”
Tenure-track candidates must have more than teaching ability and subject mastery. They must also demonstrate their capacity to do research throughout their career. Candidates for a tenure-track position in Soliño’s field, humanities, are often asked to deliver a public lecture about their research. They may be asked to teach an actual class, and participate in a lengthy stream of interviews with deans, department chairs, search committee members, administrators, students, alumni and others.
When the search committee finishes reviewing the data and feedback from key stakeholders, it selects a sole finalist. After an administrative review to ensure all qualifications have been met, that finalist is offered the position.
As painstaking as the process can be, the results are evident in the expanding research funding and numerous academic awards UH faculty members are receiving. And there’s still plenty of room to grow.
“Clearly, UH is still developing,” Soliño says, “and our new faculty will play a crucial role in shaping that growth.”
Tenure-track faculty hired in Fall 2014
- Roberto Ballarini, professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Tasneem Bawa-Khalfe, assistant professor, Biology and Biochemistry
- Aaron Becker, assistant professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Jason Berger, assistant professor, English
- Emily Berman, assistant professor, Law
- Jakoah Brgoch, assistant professor, Chemistry
- Robert Bronk, assistant professor, Information & Logistics Technology
- Cameron Buckner, assistant professor, Philosophy
- Dong Cai, assistant professor, Physics
- Ryan Canolty, assistant professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Michael Ray Charles, professor, Art
- Jinghong Chen, associate professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Li Chen, assistant professor, Biology and Biochemistry
- Erica Ciszek, assistant professor, Communication
- Scott Clifford, assistant professor, Political Science
- Courtney Crappell, associate professor, Music
- Kerri Crawford, assistant professor, Biology and Biochemistry
- Steven Crawford, assistant professor, Accounting
- Andrew Daire, professor, Educational Psychology
- Christian Eberhart, professor, Comparative Cultural Studies
- Sarah Ehlers, assistant professor, English
- Christine Ehlig-Economides, professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
- Leslie Frankel, assistant professor, Educational Psychology
- Nickolas Freeman, assistant professor, Decision & Information Sciences
- Willa Friedman, assistant professor, Economics
- Xin Fu, assistant professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Alin Fumurescu, assistant professor, Political Science
- Hadi Ghasemi, assistant professor, Mechanical Engineering
- Jose Angel Hernandez, associate professor, History
- Andrew Hines, assistant professor, Human Development and Consumer Sciences
- Sam Hui, associate professor, Marketing & Entrepreneurship
- Margarete Jadamec, assistant professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
- Sara Jones, assistant professor, Educational Psychology
- Sheila Katz, assistant professor, Sociology
- Konstantinos Kostarelos, associate professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
- Beom Chan Lee, assistant professor, Health & Human Performance
- Dong Hun Lee, assistant professor, Health & Human Performance
- Daan Liang, associate professor, Construction Management
- Auritro Majumder, assistant professor, English
- Melissa Markofski, assistant professor, Health & Human Performance
- Jason Marsack, assistant professor, Optometry
- David Mayerich, assistant professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Arjun Mukherjee, assistant professor, Computer Science
- Rosenda Murillo, assistant professor, Educational Psychology
- Duy Lap Nguyen, assistant professor, Modern & Classical Languages
- Lisa Ostrin, assistant professor, Optometry
- Jeremy Palmer, assistant professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
- Gopal Pandurangan, associate professor, Computer Science
- Jiming Peng, associate professor, Industrial Engineering
- Pablo Pinto, associate professor, Political Science
- Claudia Ratti, assistant professor, Physics
- Anthony Rolle, professor, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
- Jonathan Schwartz, professor, Educational Psychology
- Ahmed Senouci, associate professor, Construction Management
- Juan Carlos Silva-Tamayo, assistant professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
- Kavita Singh, assistant professor, English
- Thamar Solorio, associate professor, Computer Science
- Thomas Teets, assistant professor, Chemistry
- Roberto Tejada, professor, English
- Julie Tolliver, assistant professor, Modern & Classical Languages
- Gomika Udugamasooriya, associate professor, Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences
- Liliana Varela, assistant professor, Economics
- Steven Woods, professor, Psychology
- Hong K. Zhang, associate professor, Mathematics
- Yingcai Zheng, assistant professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences