May 27, 2008University of Houston President Renu Khator has appointed Ted Estess, former dean of The Honors College, as interim provost to replace Donald J. Foss, who is stepping down from his position as senior vice chancellor /vice president of academic affairs and provost, effective June 16. Foss will resume teaching and will conduct research in the department of psychology, where he is a tenured full professor.
“Dr. Estess has recently completed his stellar career as dean of The Honors College, bringing it from its infancy to its zenith and making it a jewel in the university’s crown,” Khator said. “He will assist me in advancing the academic agenda of the university.”
In 1977, Estess took the reins of the Honors Program and was instrumental in expanding the program into a college and increasing enrollment from 300 students to about 1,200. The college also enrolls an average of 70 new National Merit Scholars a year.
Under Estess’ leadership, the college created and maintained numerous creative partnerships with the community and an ever-growing number of Honors alumni. Another major accomplishment was the relocation of the college from its 6,000-square-foot site in the library’s basement to its new home on the second floor of the recently remodeled M.D. Anderson Library.
Recently, The Honors College Dean Search Committee identified four candidates for The Honors College dean position. Candidates are James Duban, professor of English and director of the Office for Nationally Competitive Scholarships at the University of North Texas; William Monroe, professor of English and executive associate dean of UH’s Honors College; Marc Landy, professor of political science at Boston College; and Murray Nabors, professor of biology at the University of Mississippi and former director of the Honors Program at Colorado State University.
Estess, Jane Morin Cizik Chair in the Humanities, also is an author of several books, including “Fishing Spirit Lake.” Nationally known for his work in the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the National Collegiate Honors Council, Estess has served as president of the Southwest Region of the American Academy of Religion and as program chair of the arts, religion and literature section of the AAR. He is a Fellow of the Society for Arts, Religion and Contemporary Culture.
Khator noted Foss’ accomplishments during his tenure, which began in 2005, and thanked him for his service to the campus.
“I personally have tremendous respect for Provost Foss’ academic values and experiences,” Khator said. “During the past four months, I have relied on his wise counsel. He has instituted a number of significant initiatives whose results will continue to advance our university for several years to come. Please join me in thanking Professor Foss for his dedicated service in this role and his commitment to excellence. Needless to say, we will miss his leadership and wish him much success in his new ventures.”
A national search to fill the position of provost is already under way. The search committee will be chaired by Professor David Francis and staffed by David Bell, assistant vice president for academic and faculty affairs. Other committee members will be announced shortly.