Dean's Update - University of Houston
Skip to main content

Dean's Update

Dec. 11, 2018

Message from the Dean

If you’re looking for some inspiration as we approach commencement Friday, I encourage you to read this story about three of our fall graduates. Two were discouraged by educators early in life – yet now want to be teachers – and the other is graduating with a bachelor’s in health at the ripe age of 67.

Please know that the work you’re doing to support our students makes a difference.

Of course, we also must continue to meet the success metrics required by the University. Our metrics include two new measures this year: the number of grant submissions per year and the total dollar amount of grants submitted.

Other measures remain the same: total research expenditures, federal research expenditures, journal articles published, faculty citations, doctoral degrees awarded, first-year and six-year FTIC graduation rates, and total annual giving. The LBB teacher certification rate is no longer included.

With our collective focus on “50 in 5,” I’m confident we’ll continue to see progress.

Please have a wonderful, restful winter break! But first, let’s gather for our holiday lunch tomorrow and at graduation Friday.



  • COE Faculty and Staff Holiday Lunch: Wednesday, Dec. 12, noon - 1:30 p.m. KIVA.
  • Fall graduation – Friday, Dec. 14, 3 p.m. NRG Arena.
  • Winter break – Monday, Dec. 24 - Tuesday, Jan. 1
  • MLK holiday – Monday, Jan. 21


Please read the Monday email from Paula Canada in its entirety to help ensure a smooth day. And a big thank you to all the new and returning volunteers!


Grant Support

  • We have received notifications from funding agencies that some applications are non-compliant with the latest guidance. Please work with our office to ensure we are responsive to all the details being requested. Our services, with the lead time needed, include:
    • Editorial (one week; Mary Fisher-Warrick)
    • Responsiveness to RFA (one week; Lori Armstrong)
    • Grantsmanship (two weeks; Ezemenari Obasi)
  • OOR customer service survey report: 100 percent of faculty receiving support this period were “very satisfied.”


  • UH call for concept papers to pursue big grant ideas
  • UH call for planning grants to pursue a National Center of Excellence


Grant Awards

  • Closing the Gap: Addressing the Learning Needs of English Language Learners in Mainstream Classroom. William T. Grant Foundation. $40,199 DC (15% IDC = $6,030). Miao Li (CUIN).
  • Framing, Examining, and Charting the Landscape of Research on Teachers of Color. American Educational Research Association. $30,276.66 TDC. Conra Gist (CUIN).

Grant Submissions

  • Helping Everyone Achieve a LifeTime of Health (HEALTH) Research Institute - Establishing a NIMHD Research Centers In Minority Institutions Program at the University of Houston. NIH. $11,570,967 DC (53% IDC = 6,124,134). Ezemenari Obasi, PI (PHLS, HRI), Lorraine Reitzel (PHLS, HRI).
  • Dialogic Inquiry of Socio-scientific and Conceptual Understanding in School Science with English Language Learners (DISCUSS-ELL). National Science Foundation. $873,941 DC (53% IDC = $428,739). Jie Zhang, PI (CUIN), Sissy Wong (CUIN).
  • Language, Inquiry, and Novel Knowledge in Science for English Language Learners (LINKS for ELLs). National Science Foundation. $1,521,996 DC (53% IDC = $612,678). Sissy Wong, PI (CUIN), Jie Zhang (CUIN).
  • Collaborative Research: Launching STEM Careers Through Extended Learning Communities. National Science Foundation. $1,476,593 DC (53% IDC = $634,194). Zenaida Aguirre-Munoz (PHLS).
  • Teaching Shakespeare in 21st Century High School Classrooms: Reconciling “Personalized Learning” with Collaborative Meaning-Making, and Developing Place-And-Time Specific Adolescent Identities Despite the “Nowhere” of the Internet and the Claimed Universe. Center for Ethics & Education at the University of Wisconsin. $39,407 TC (0% IDC). Laura Turchi (CUIN).
  • BOUNCE into the STEM Zone. NSF. $1,960,772 DC (53% IDC = $1,039,209). Norma Olvera, PI (PHLS), Consuelo Arbona (PHLS), Zenaida Aguirre-Munoz (PHLS), Heather Domjan (CUIN).
  • Full STEAM Ahead Community Driven Informal Learning. Institute for Educational Leadership/National Science Foundation. $324,528 DC (53% IDC = $125,472). Anne McClellan (Dean, ACES).
  • HEALTH Research Institute/Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Training Program. NIH. $1,249,570 DC (8% IDC = $27,010). Ezemenari Obasi, PI (PHLS, HRI), Lorraine Reitzel (PHLS, HRI).
  • Assessing Value in Legal Education: Developing the Legal Analysis and Workforce Skills (LAWS) Instrument. AccessLex Institute. $116,445 DC (10% IDC = $8,553). Frank Fernandez (ELPS).
  • Measuring Academic Skill Development for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Project ASD4ASD. Spencer Foundation. $50,000 TDC (0% IDC). Milena Margulis, PI (PHLS), Sarah Mire (PHLS).
  • Does the Institutional Accreditation Process Facilitate Organizational Learning? A Qualitative Study Focusing on Minority Serving Institutions. Spencer Foundation. $50,000 TDC (0% IDC). Frank Fernandez (ELPS).
  • Developing Intensive Adaptive Reading Interventions: Addressing Inadequate Responders. NIH. $100,000 DC (53% IDC = $53,000). Shawn Kent (ELPS).
  • The Effect of Microaggressions on Executive Functions among Lesbian, Gay, & Bi-sexual racial/ethnic Minorities: Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Factors of STI risk-related behaviors. NIH. $100,000 DC (53% IDC = $53,000). Chakema Carmack (PHLS).
  • Exploring Use of Parent-Mediated Intervention to Increase Readiness Skills in Doubly-Vulnerable Preschoolers. NIH. $100,000 DC (53% IDC = $53,000). Sarah Mire (PHLS).
  • Assessing the Effectiveness of Principals. American Educational Research Association. $33,980 TDC (0% IDC). Catherine Horn (ELPS).
  • A Community-engaged Approach to Promoting Physical Activity Among Latinos with Pre-diabetes. NIH (K01). $582,692 DC (8% IDC = $46,616). Rosenda Murillo (PHLS).


Note: Grant awards and submissions are listed under Office of Research.

Curriculum & Instruction


  • Jeanette Alarcon has received a UH Women of Color Coalition Stimulus Research Award for her proposal on peer-to-peer professional development for elementary school teachers.
  • Sheng Chung has been selected by the National Art Education Association to receive the 2019 Dr. Eugene Grigsby, Jr. Award for his focus on culturally responsive art education.
  • Conra Gist recently hosted dozens of experts from around the country for an AERA-supported research convening focused on teacher diversity. Listen to her discuss the issue on “Houston Matters.”
  • Susie Gronseth has an article coming out in the next issue of Educational Renaissance. She developed the piece during the writing group sponsored by the COE Faculty Development Committee last year. She also was newly elected to the Faculty Senate.
  • Sissy Wong and Jie Zhang have had five AERA presentations accepted that feature collaboration with doctoral students.
  • Faculty and doctoral students from the language arts, literacy and reading program participated, served as local hosts and presented at the recent National Council of Teachers of English annual convention in Houston. Margaret Hale is past president of the Texas chapter.

Educational Leadership & Policy Studies


  • Shawn Kent has won an early-career publication award from the Council for Exceptional Children for his meta-analysis of writing quality across developmental levels. The award will be presented at the council’s annual convention in January.
  • Several of our faculty received a UH Women of Color Coalition Stimulus Research Award:
    • Elsa Gonzalez (taking action as a Hispanic-Serving Institution)
    • April Peters-Hawkins and Tiffany J. Davis (mentoring for African American female doctoral students)
    • Ruth López (a longitudinal study of a Latina college-mentoring program)

Psychological, Health & Learning Sciences


  • Nikki Coleman and Chakema Carmark received a UH Women of Color Coalition Stimulus Research Award for their project focused on social networking and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Ezemenari Obasi appeared on Fox26 for a segment on alcoholism.
  • Milena Keller-Margulis has been selected as a Shapiro Mid-Career Scholar by the Society for the Study of School Psychology. The program connects mid-career researchers with mentors to help with developing and refining grant proposals. Ed Shapiro, the namesake of the award, was Keller-Margulis’ advisor and mentor in graduate school at Lehigh University.
  • Faculty publications include:
    • Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, on math teacher learning preferences, in Journal of Education and Practice
    • Nikki Coleman, on black-oriented reality TV and stereotypes, in Psychology of Popular Media Culture
    • Marcel de Dios, on nicotine maintenance for smokers in methadone treatment, in Addiction Research & Theory
    • Virmarie Correa-Fernández, on stress, worry, anxiety and somatization in an ethnically diverse sample of college students, in Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science
    • Brad Smith, on developing and disseminating evidence-based yoga practices, in International Journal of Yoga Therapy


Kaitlyn Dempsey

Get to know Kaitlyn Dempsey, who started as an advisor in our Office of Undergraduate Studies in June.

Q: What is your personal connection to college advising?

A: I fell in love with college advising while working within a high school. I applied to jobs in higher education because I didn’t know if I preferred working with high school or college students.

Q: What do you see in students when they stop by your office?

A: The whole goal is to be engaging. Students who normally come in here stressed always leave smiling, and that makes me happy. I even have some students come up to me and ask for hugs. It is nice to see that I am making a difference in people’s lives and brightening people’s days.

Q: What is one attraction you would tell a tourist to visit in Houston?

A: Memorial Park. I go multiple times a week. I love exploring and trying new coffee shops.

Read the full Q&A.



  • UH has adopted an official MAPP policy on branding. This basically gives more weight to the existing branding guidelines. In short, all marketing materials (anything not instruction related) must adhere to the UH brand, include a UH logo and be approved by UH Branding. Our COE process requires review by our communications team first. Please contact Ericka Mellon with any questions.


  • Reminder: UH policy requires all non-travel receipts for reimbursement to be turned into the business office within 60 days of the purchase being made. Please see the 12/7 email from Paul Roch for a refresher on the process.

Faculty Executive Committee

  • We know it’s a busy time but encourage all faculty to attend commencement Friday.
  • In the spring, the FEC will address the College Constitution and the associate dean reviews.
  • Finally, have a great semester break!

Staff Council

  • We’d appreciate any donations to support Covenant House Texas. You may bring items to the holiday party tomorrow or drop them off in Farish Hall 160 through Jan. 31. Requested items include new clothing, gift cards, toiletries and cleaning supplies.

Dean’s Update typically publishes on the second Tuesday of each month.


This is an official message sent by the University of Houston. To verify the validity of this message, visit or email