Seven UHV professors earn promotions, tenure

Andrew Baerg Stephanie Solansky Elsa Soto Leggett Linda Dune Denise Neill Sandy Venneman Estella De Los Santos


After a meticulous review process, the UH System Board of Regents has approved promotions in academic rank for seven University of Houston-Victoria faculty members.

Andrew Baerg, Stephanie Solansky, Elsa Soto Leggett, Linda Dune and Denise Neill were promoted from assistant to associate professor and have earned tenure. Sandy Venneman and Estella De Los Santos were promoted from associate professor to professor. The promotions will take effect Sept. 1.

“This group of professors has built up a long list of impressive accomplishments in classroom and labs, which benefit our students, our institution and our community,” UHV President Phil Castille said. “Their contributions have enhanced UHV’s reputation as an institution noted for teaching innovation and excellence. We are very pleased they are moving successfully through the academic ranks.”

Traditionally, faculty hired as assistant professors at UHV have five years to apply for promotion and tenure. The review process, which takes almost a year to complete, begins with evaluations by the school deans. Their recommendations are sent to the university’s promotion and tenure committee for review. The nine-member panel was chaired this year by Richard Gunasekera, UHV professor of biology and director of graduate biology programs.

The committee’s recommendations, along with letters from the deans, go to the provost, and his recommendations go up the chain to the university president, UHS chancellor and the UHS Board of Regents. The board awards promotions, while the university president awards tenure.

“Many sets of eyes evaluate whether the promotions are warranted,” Gunasekera said. “There are no guarantees for promotion. We consider a number of factors in making this decision including external evaluation of peers in the faculty’s discipline.”

Venneman and Baerg are faculty in the School of Arts & Sciences. Venneman has taught psychology and biology at UHV since 1999. She was selected as the Enron Teaching Excellence Award winner for 2002-2003 and 2006-2007 and won the Distinguished Faculty Service Award in 2005-2006. Her primary research areas are sports psychology and the interface of psychology and medicine.

Baerg, director of the communication program, has worked at UHV since 2006. He has taught classes about communication theory, mass media communication and digital gaming. Baerg’s primary research interest involves the relationship between sports and the media, with a specific focus on the cultural and social significance of sports video games.

Solansky, the Partnership Professor of Organizational Management for the School of Business Administration, has been a UHV faculty member since 2006. She teaches leadership, change management, communication and critical thinking, contemporary issues in management and organizational theory and development. Solansky recently received multiple honors from the Academy of Management for her paper examining the role of self-determination in leadership development.

De Los Santos and Leggett teach in the School of Education & Human Development. De Los Santos has taught mathematics education at UHV for more than two decades. She started teaching at the university in 1991 as a visiting instructor. She was hired as an assistant professor in 1994 and was promoted to associate professor in 2000. Her teaching areas are elementary and middle school math, and her research interests are mathematics methods and the integration of technology.

Leggett has served as a counseling faculty member at UHV since 2008. She teaches classes about school counseling and play therapy, a counseling technique that uses toys, drawings and sand to relate to patients. Her research areas include professional identity of counselors, school counseling, counseling children and adolescents, solution-focused counseling, creative integration in counseling and play therapy.

Dune and Neill work in the School of Nursing and were both among the program’s original faculty members in 2006.

Dune is coordinator of Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She researches complementary alternative nursing in addition to simulations and technology in nursing. In 2011, she was awarded a nearly $90,000 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to study nursing school student retention.

Neill is the Registered Nurse to BSN and the Master of Science in Nursing coordinator. She recently relocated to the Lone Star College University Center at Montgomery to oversee the expansion of the RN to BSN program in The Woodlands. Neill researches nurse workload and quality of care.

Jeffrey Cass, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs, commended the faculty members for their hard work and track record of success in the classroom.

“We are lucky to have many exceptional faculty members,” he said. “I applaud these seven faculty members for their dedication to teaching and research. The promotions are well deserved.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Jeremy Shapiro