Panels, Performances to Complement UH Investiture and Homecoming Events November 3 - 5

The University of Houston is celebrating more than eight decades of "Cougar Pride" while looking forward to a new era of excellence.

During the first week of November, Homecoming 2008 and the investiture of UH President Renu Khator will commemorate the university's past, present and, most importantly, its future. Among the scheduled events are three unique academic panels that will inspire and entertain audiences while provoking dialogue regarding UH's evolving educational mission.

"These events were inspired by the investiture of President Khator," said Elizabeth Brown-Guillory, professor of English and one of the events' organizers. "We have worked to develop them into exciting, informative academic programs that should appeal to a wide audience. The investiture provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the good work that we do at UH and allows us to reach out to the community to initiate partnerships."

The three panels are free and open to the public. They will be conducted in the Hilton UH Hotel's Waldorf Astoria Ballroom.

  • 5:30 p.m., Nov. 3: "Defining Moments in the Lives Of Ordinary People Taking on Extraordinary Challenges" - Moderated by Elizabeth Brown-Guillory, professor of English, this panel of UH faculty and Houston business and professional leaders will share "defining moments" in their lives and link those moments to the topic of service to the community. Among the panelists are Khator; Trish Morille, executive vice president of the Smith Foundation and president of Morille and Associates; Camille Cash, plastic surgeon; Laura G. Murillo, president and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Martin B. Cominsky, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League Southwest Region; Lois M. Ramondetta, gynecologic oncologist at M.D. Anderson Hospital; and William Lee Pryor, UH professor emeritus of English. "The panelists will share defining moments that changed their lives irrevocably, and then will speak about the ways in which these defining moments helped to shape the ways in which they relate to their community," Brown-Guillory said.


  • 3:30 p.m., Nov. 4: "First Tier or Tears? The Place of the Humanities in a Tier-One Institution" - The panel will discuss the nature of humanistic teaching and research and the important role they must play in creating a top-tier institution. Discussions will center on the need for humanities professors and departments to reassure legislators, administrators and students that the broad spectrum of humanities in higher education is essential to advanced learning and human progress. Moderated by Nicolás Kanellos, Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Studies at UH, the panel will feature insight from W. Lawrence Hogue, professor of English; Cynthia Freeland, chair of the department of philosophy; James L. Conyers, director of UH's African American Studies program; and John Hart, John and Rebecca Moores Distinguished Professor of History. "Discussions such as these develop the new forms of curriculum, courses of study and educational culture," Kanellos said. "Hopefully, this panel will provide reasons for putting humanistic thought on an equal footing with science, business and technological study at the university."


  • 5:30 p.m., Nov. 5: "Inspiring Creative Artists: An Arts Town Hall Showcasing UH Faculty and the Houston Arts Community" - This event features performances by UH and local artists followed by a discussion focused on building a successful Houston arts community and the role UH plays in this effort. Brown-Guillory will moderate this discussion, and panelists include Mark Bly, senior dramturg/director of play development at the Alley Theatre and Distinguished Professor of Theatre at UH; Chitra Divakaruni, Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of English at UH; Katherine P. Center, novelist; Sarah Cortez, poet; Howard Pollack, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Music; Rebecca Greene Udden, artistic director with Main Street Theater; Jonathon Glus, CEO of the Houston Arts Alliance; Claudia Schmuckli, curator at UH's Blaffer Gallery; Gerald LaBita, founder and producing director of Theatre LaB Houston; Clare Elliott, assistant curator of the Menil Collection; Alvia Wardlaw, curator at Museum of Fine Arts; Michelle Barnes, executive director of Community Artists' Collective; Sixto Wagan, artistic director at DiverseWorks; Rich Levy, executive director of Inprint; Eileen J. Morris, artistic director of The Ensemble Theatre; Jorge Pina, artistic director of Talento Bilingue de Houston Cultural Arts Center; Nancy Zastudil, program manager at UH Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts; and Tony Diaz, founder and executive director of Nuestra Palabra.

Homecoming and investiture-related events will take place Nov. 1 - 10 and 17. Highlights include the investiture of Khator at 2 p.m., Nov. 7 in UH's Cullen Performance Hall and the Farfel Distinguished Lecture Series and The Elizabeth D. Rockwell Ethics & Leadership Lecture Series event featuring New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman at 7 p.m., Nov. 17 in Cullen Performance Hall.

For additional details on these panels and other events related to the investiture and homecoming, visit

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.