Anderson Retires from UH with a 41-Year Legacy of Influence

HOUSTON, May 30, 2012 – For the past 41 years at the University of Houston, James Anderson has built an impressive legacy, whether through teaching students at the College of Education, writing academic articles and papers, or representing UH in his current position—executive associate to UH System Chancellor and UH President Renu Khator. 

With his retirement from UH, effective June 1, Anderson has earned a well-deserved rest – which his track record says will last only until he identifies a new way to have an influence. Anderson has always led a productive life. As a young man, he followed in the footsteps of his parents, both of whom were educators. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Kansas, a Master of Science in education from Kansas State Teachers College and a Ph.D. in social science education from The Ohio State University. After graduation, he elected to start his career at UH for two reasons — an opportunity to make a difference and to live in a growing city. 

“The recruiting team from UH wanted me to come because they thought I could be helpful to the College of Education, the University of Houston and the city in helping them work on problems regarding diversity, how and what people were taught in schools about culture, and legal issues related to segregation, integration and diversity that public educational institutions were facing at that time,” Anderson says. 

His father also influenced his decision.

“My father told me he thought Houston was going to be a great town one day, that it would be a city where he thought new people and new ideas could take root and that a person could come and make a real contribution, exist in a growing economy and raise a family in a good environment,” he says.

Since those early years, Anderson has served as a tenured education professor, director of UH’s International Multicultural Education Institute and a member of various Fulbright Scholars national selection committees. He is the author of various articles, papers and monographs and was a co-editor of The Journal of Educational Equity and Leadership for five years. Additionally, Anderson is the recipient of various honors and awards including the Gold Prize Award in Black History presented by the International Film and Television Festival and the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Award for Excellence in Equity and Communication.

In his current position, he represents Khator in a wide range of external and internal university activities, serving as a liaison to communities, businesses, civic and governmental agencies; developing university partnerships and related academic activities; and working with the Office of the President’s projects and initiatives. During his more than four decades at UH, Anderson has seen the university outgrow its Cougar High image.

“The greatest changes I’ve seen at the university would first be its intellectual maturation, including the quality of faculty, our curricula offerings and the newly evolving global relations and focus for preparing our students,” Anderson says. “We are, comparatively, a very good university in so many ways. The second is the long and continuing transformation from being an “island in the sea” with very limited relations to the city we live in to the designation from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s highest community engagement classification.” 

As Anderson finishes his last hectic week on campus, he looks forward to peaceful days, spending more time with his family and traveling with his wife. But, he says with a smile, he may take a break from his life of leisure to consult and, perhaps, write a book.

“I think the most exciting thing that I will miss will be my experiences in being able to possibly affect somebody’s ideas or thinking,” Anderson says. “I’ll miss the many times I have been blessed with helping make something good happen to children, students and people in this city in the name of the University of Houston.”

Francine Parker