A nationally renowned blues scholar and author is joining the University of Houston-Victoria School of Arts & Sciences and two professors will be promoted as part of a school restructuring.
Thomas Williams, who spoke Jan. 24 at the UHV/American Book Review Spring Reading Series, recently was hired as chair of the school's new Humanities Division. Williams is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Ark.
Rick Harrington, UHV psychology professor and coordinator of psychology programs, was named chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division, and Lee Chao, UHV professor of computer science and mathematics, was promoted to chair of the Science, Technology and Mathematics Division.
"This is the right time to restructure to make the School of Arts & Sciences more efficiently and effectively meet the needs of students and faculty members," Dean Jeffrey Di Leo said.
All appointments will begin this summer with the exception of Harrington's new position. He will be on a sabbatical during the fall semester to conduct research and write a textbook about stress and health, and will formally take over as chair of the new division in the spring. Until then, Di Leo will serve as interim chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division.
Under the new divisions, each chair will oversee about 10 full-time faculty members as well as a number of adjunct faculty who work in related subject areas, Di Leo said.
"Adding these divisions is just another example of how UHV is growing and working to better meet students' needs," said Suzanne LaBrecque, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Williams said he was impressed with UHV when he visited during the spring semester as part of the reading series.
"I just think there's so much going on and so much excitement with new programs, athletics and the possibility of UHV becoming a four-year university," he said. "This opportunity just seemed too good to pass up."
Williams' short stories and essays have appeared in more than 20 publications, including Gulf Coast, River City, Indiana Review, Chelsea and Connecticut Review. He has contributed articles to the American Book Review for nearly 10 years. His honors include three Pushcart Prize nominations, a James Michener Fellowship and the Arkansas State Board of Trustees Faculty Award for Professional Services.
Harrington said he is looking forward to increasing efficiency within the School of Arts & Sciences and adding degree programs within his division as the school grows.
"The School of Arts & Sciences will be more effective because the chairs will be closer to the faculty in terms of their knowledge of subject areas," he said.
Harrington joined the UHV faculty in 1987. He is a licensed psychologist with more than 25 years of experience teaching at the college level. Harrington received the UHV Teaching Excellence Award in 1991.
Chao said he also hopes to add degree programs and increase enrollment within the Division of Science, Technology and Mathematics. Chao started at UHV in 1995 and is a certified Oracle database administrator and Microsoft solution developer. He is the author of two books, including "Strategies and Technologies for Developing Online Computer Labs for Technology-Based Courses" published last year.
"This will be a challenge," he said of his new position. "But I am looking forward to helping the university, faculty and students, and moving the Division of Science, Technology and Mathematics forward."