A longtime psychology professor with more than two decades of higher education administrative experience is set to become the University of Houston-Victoria interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.
David Cockrum will hold the interim position until a permanent provost is hired. He will replace Don Smith, who has filled in as UHV interim provost for the past four months. Smith’s last day is Aug. 26.
Cockrum and UHV President Vic Morgan worked together for nearly 20 years at Sul Ross State University in Alpine where Morgan was president and Cockrum was the provost and vice president for academics and student affairs.
“Dave and I work well together having spent a big part of our administrative careers working in tandem,” Morgan said. “He is a sensible and level-headed leader and is familiar with the way our accreditors, the Legislature, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and other state agencies work.”
Cockrum will arrive at UHV on Monday to spend a few days with Smith before he departs. The provost is the president’s primary adviser for academic planning, development, oversight, program evaluation and student success. The deans of UHV’s three schools report to the provost, and the provost sits on the President’s Cabinet and the university’s Executive Committee.
Cockrum had a distinguished four-decade career at Sul Ross. He started teaching psychology classes in 1974. He began serving as chairman of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences in 1983 and was promoted to vice president for academic affairs in 1990. He took a modified retirement in 2010, leaving his post as provost but continuing to teach two courses a semester for the past six years.
“He enjoys working with students, and he definitely will be a student-centered advocate,” Morgan said.
Cockrum said getting to know the students and faculty at Sul Ross was one of his favorite parts of the job. Now, he’s looking forward to working with a new cast of administrators and faculty members.
“Having spent my whole career at one institution, it will be nice to go to another university and see things from a different point of view,” he said.
A Tucson native, Cockrum earned his doctorate in social psychology from the University of Arizona. He has published more than 20 papers about group decision making, cross-cultural comparisons of personality needs of small business managers and other topics.
Cockrum said he’s not coming to UHV with an agenda.
“Dr. Morgan and the deans have some ideas, and I see my role as implementing those ideas,” he said. “I will do what I can to make them come to fruition.”
At Sul Ross, Cockrum helped oversee about $100 million in facilities expansion and renovation. He also ushered in online and interactive video courses. Cockrum said he’s enthusiastic about being part of the changes taking place at UHV, including the opening of a new teaching center in Katy and the new buildings planned in Victoria.
“It’s an exciting place with great potential to grow,” he said. “The location is ideal. Students want to leave home to gain that independence, but they don’t want to go too far away.”
Smith was appointed the university’s interim provost and vice president for academic affairs on May 1 with the intention of only serving for a few months. Smith previously was UHV’s provost, and he has been interim president on three different occasions.
“Once again, Dr. Smith has done a tremendous job pitching in to help lead UHV’s academic endeavors,” Morgan said. “I can’t thank him enough for all he has done for the university during his career.”
A national search for a permanent provost will begin this fall. Morgan said he hopes to have someone in place by the spring.