Our success as a Public Tier One university is tied directly to how we remain relevant in the community. The University of Houston’s (UH) historical foundations are rooted in the economic development of Houston during the Great Depression era. UH directly contributed to its community through job creation and preparing students for the emerging workforce. Today UH is a nationally recognized comprehensive research and teaching institution offering almost 40,000 students high quality education. Growing in its influence in the community, it is steadily enhancing its role as the “City’s University.” Community engagement service is an indistinguishable element in its pursuit of excellence. This is evidenced by Carnegie’s Community Engagement and Tier One Public University classifications. The unique combination of accolades is found only in 40 universities across the nation—the only one in Texas. The two million student community service hours provided to the 2.1 million Houston population also reflects this uncommon institutional commitment. These efforts alone translate into more than $30 million to support public and private efforts to increase the quality of life in Houston.
I believe UH has two unique dynamics that sustain its ability to achieve meaningful impacts in the community. First, UH is the most ethnically balanced university in the U.S. UH also attracts students from 128 nations as well as every U.S. state and most U.S. territories. This is a shining example of how UH is leading the nation in attracting a diverse environment to address today’s most critical issues. Second, 85% of UH students live outside the university. This means that our students are embedded and familiar with this sprawling city which spreads across an area larger than the state of Massachusetts. Given this unique institutional culture, UH is strategically aligned to execute its mission through using more than 100 programmatic community advisory boards, 150 summer programs, 229 community research awards, 330 service-learning courses, 350 community programs, 500 student organizations, Federal work study students, and partnerships with the full spectrum of government entities, businesses, and super-neighborhoods.
The overall goal of my work is to identify new ways where metropolitan universities, such as the University of Houston, can stay relevant in the community through utilizing existing resources and mechanisms to meet needs within real world settings. To this end, I incubate Tier One Community Engagement projects; where innovative solutions to longstanding community-identified issues are generated during coursework and supported by new interdisciplinary university-community partnerships. This model is broad enough to address any environmental-socio-economic issue brought by the community. This goal is also met through staying current on community engagement projects happening throughout the university regardless if they coordinated by student organizations, faculty, or the administration.
I am just as comfortable on the street corner as I am in the boardroom; showing no favoritism with people I find in either context. With both of my parents working in the space industry, I acquired a passion for discovery and comfort for remaining “outside-the-box.” I am convinced that these personal attributes help me to successfully broker new relationships within our university and with our neighbors as we seek to stay relevant in the community.
Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA, 1997-2000
B.A., Psychology with Minor in Biology, California State University at Bakersfield, Bakersfield, CA, 2003
M.S.W., California State University at Long Beach; Long Beach, CA, 2005
Ph.D., Social Work, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, Houston, TX, 2011
Licenses and Certifications:
Areas of Specialization:
- University-Community Engagement
- Action Research
- Green Collar Economy
- Organizational Assessment and Program Evaluation
SOCW 7397 - Interdisciplinary Community Development
SOCW 7397 - Strategies for Community Development
Action Research, Green Collar Economy, Green Jobs, University-Community Engagement, Socio-economic Development of African American Communities, Disaster Research, Child welfare reform as it relates to the disproportionate number of African American children entering child welfare.