CLASS NEWS is brought to you by the University of Houston’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
Dean Antonio D. Tillis and the CLASS Office of Communications.

Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser

May 2017

Doctoral student lands prestigious national fellowship after 165-year-old Walt Whitman discovery

Abracadabra! As a young child, Zachary Turpin dreamed of being a magician, because they could pull a rabbit out of a hat and make objects disappear and reappear; so he thought. Well today, literary scholars are still reeling with amazement from the magical moment when Turpin pulled from the bowels of the Library of Congress, a Walt Whitman novel, lost for 165 years. Because of this discovery, along with his previous Walt Whitman findings, Turpin has been awarded the Kluge Fellowship to live in Washington D.C. for several months this summer and see what additional Walt Whitman lost works he can find in the Library of Congress. read more

Study finds confusion about voter ID kept some Texas voters home

Researchers considering the impact of the Texas voter ID legislation on the 2016 presidential election report that confusion over the law kept some people from voting, although most registered voters could have complied. Latino voters were affected most significantly. The study by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs, offers an in-depth look at registered voters who sat out the 2016 election in the state’s highest-profile battlegrounds. read more

Dr. Jack M. Fletcher named 2017 Esther Farfel Award recipient

Dr. Jack M. Fletcher, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Psychology, was named the 2017 Esther Farfel Award recipient during an April 20 ceremony. The award is given in recognition of excellent teaching, research, scholarship, and service. Dr. Fletcher has directed or collaborated on over $125 million in funded research, receiving funding from the National Institute of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation. His scholarly output includes over 400 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 100 chapters in edited volumes, and three books. He has been a board certified neuropsychologist for the past 30 years, and has been at the University of Houston since 1979. read more

CLASS faculty member named Moores Professor, other CLASS faculty earn teaching, research and scholarship awards

On April 20, the Office of the Provost celebrated the recipients of numerous awards during a special ceremony and dinner. Several CLASS faculty members earned recognitions. Dr. Clayton Neighbors, professor of psychology, was one of two recipients of the Moores Professorship. In addition, Dr. Neighbors was also presented with an award for Excellence in Research Scholarship or Creative Activity at the same event. Other award recipients were Dr. James Schafer, History; Dr. Elizabeth Simas, Political Science; Dr. Sharon Wen, Modern and Classical Languages; Dr. Richard Armstrong, Modern and Classical Languages; and Dr. Richard Simpson, Health and Human Performance. In addition, graduate teaching assistants Elizabeth Blomstedt and Erika Jo Brown, both of English, were also recognized. read more

CLASS’s oldest graduate this semester earns degree alongside his son

Kenneth Levin jokes that every 30 years, he decides to go back to college. At 86-years-old, this time around he is earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, and is graduating as CLASS’s oldest graduate this semester. But, Kenneth isn’t the only Levin graduating this spring – his son, 23-year-old Herschel, is also graduating with a degree in political science. read more

Meet CLASS’ Spring 2017 graduates with 4.0 GPAs

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences commends its 4.0 graduates on their perseverance and dedication to excellence. Congratulations to them and to all our graduates. read more

Ph.D. graduate examined how exercise affects cancer survivorship

For Nathan Parker, researching how to help individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is, in part, a personal quest. After losing his grandmother to the disease, he wanted to learn all he could about pancreatic cancer. This month, he graduates with a Ph.D. after successfully defending his research dissertation that examined the relationship between physical activity as it relates to cancer survivorship and healthy aging. read more

History doctoral student awarded Fulbright Fellowship

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Ph.D. student, Daniel Mendiola, was recently awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to spend the 2017-2018 school year in San José, Costa Rica, to conduct dissertation research in the country’s national archives. Mendiola’s current plan is to finish his dissertation during his Fulbright year in Costa Rica, and then find a job as a professor of history where he can follow his passion and teach the next generation of students. read more

Sawan Dalal selected for summer internship at NASA's Ames Research Center

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences student Sawan Dalal has been selected for NASA’s Space Life Sciences Training Program. Dalal works in health and human performance faculty member, Dr. Christopher Arellano’s, lab. He will spend the summer at NASA’s Ames Research Center in San Francisco working on the BioSentinel research project to develop space radiation biosensors through a yeast model. As part of the internship he will receive a $6500 stipend, free housing on-site, and will tour several aerospace facilities (SpaceX, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, etc). read more

CLASS hosts Massive Open Online Course conducted in American Sign Language

In 2015, Professor Sharon Hill, undergraduate program coordinator with CLASS’ American Sign Language Interpreting (ASLI) program, had a vision. After attending a workshop led by the CLASS Office of Educational Technology (OET) and strategizing a plan with an instructional designer, her vision became clearer. The goal was simple and yet complex – design an ASLI online course open to the public, also known as an MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), that was accessible to the hearing impaired. read more

Mayor Sylvester Turner to offer keynote at African American Studies Annual Scholarship Banquet

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences’ African American Studies program is hosting their annual scholarship banquet on May 11. Mayor of the city of Houston and CLASS alum, Sylvester Turner, will be the featured keynote speaker. The purpose of this event is to raise funds for undergraduate and graduate student scholarships. The event will be held at The Power Center, 12401 S. Post Oak Road, Houston, TX 77045. Ticket price is $100. read more

CLASS to host 9th annual Boldface conference May 22-26

The Boldface Writers Conference is the only conference in the U.S. dedicated to emerging writers. The conference targets undergraduate students and other emerging writers who are eager to hone their craft in an intensive week of workshops, crafts talks, and readings. Boldface is sponsored by Glass Mountain, the undergraduate literary journal in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston, and meets in the M.D. Anderson more

Dr. James Conyers served as keynote speaker during event at Texas Southern University

Texas Southern University hosted its annual Communication Week, April 17-21, with keynote speaker Dr. James Conyers, director of the African American Studies Program at the University of Houston. The week was designed to complement, supplement, and showcase student learning modules in media, film, entertainment and recording careers. Innovative tactics current and future trends were shared by scholars, entrepreneurs and experts. read more

UH Moores School of Music AURA collaborate with Hispanic Studies Faculty Creative Writers on performance

Contemporary music and literature took center stage when members of the University of Houston Moores School of Music AURA Contemporary Ensemble collaborated with the department of Hispanic Studies Faculty Creative Writers at the Moores Opera House. The performance, titled “In Search Of,” was held on April 24 and served as a prelude to the nation’s first Ph.D. program in Spanish with a concentration in creative writing. The program at UH begins this fall and provides an interdisciplinary approach to literary arts through workshops and seminars designed to explore writing, prose and poetry and essay. read more

Jack J. Valenti School of Communication Students place in national student advertising competition

The Valenti School of Communication’s student competition advertising agency, the Valenti Group, was awarded a Silver Medal by finishing second out of 18 schools at the American Advertising Federation (AAF) District 10 National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) held on April 6. The NSAC team was led by instructional assistant professor Larry Kelley. The AAF District 10 is historically the most competitive district in the nation, with the winner having won more than half of the national competitions. District 10 is comprised of top schools in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, and the Valenti Group performed better than any other university in Texas, besting programs including Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, Southern Methodist University, and Texas Christian University, among others. This marks the seventh time in the past eight years that the Valenti Group has placed in the top three. read more

Dr. Donald J. Foss honored for his lifetime achievements

A Festschrift honoring Dr. Donald J. Foss was held immediately after the 30th CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing scheduled which was held March 30 to April 1, 2017 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA. At the post-conference event, called Foss Fest, Dr. Foss, who is a professor in the department of psychology, was honored for his lifetime achievements. read more

If you have a CLASS news or research story you would like the Office of Communication to consider including in a future issue of this newsletter, please send an email to

To subscribe to this newsletter, please visit and select CLASS News: College e-Newsletter

Support CLASS, Give online at

Give to the University of Houston  Find CLASS on Facebook  Follow CLASS on twitter