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New Faculty Senate president takes reins

As the new president of the University of Houston-Victoria Faculty Senate, Beverly Tomek intends to focus on boosting enrollment, creating new academic programs and helping faculty members transition to new offices in Katy.

Beverly Tomek

Tomek, an assistant professor of history in the UHV School of Arts & Sciences, originally was elected as vice president. Jifu Wang, an associate professor of management, was slated to become the president, but he received a promotion to associate dean of the UHV School of Business Administration. This made him ineligible to serve on the Faculty Senate. The group will hold a special election to choose a new vice president. This is Tomek’s first time serving on the Faculty Senate.

“This is a very exciting time for UHV as we continue to grow and build on the addition of freshmen and sophomores,” Tomek said. “I wanted to play a role in that process. I am very excited about how far we’ve come, and I wanted to help do my part to look out for faculty interests as we continue to grow and evolve into a destination university.”

The Faculty Senate advocates for the UHV faculty in the university’s decision-making process. It also serves as a sounding board for faculty members to share their ideas about details the administration should consider. As part of this goal, the Faculty Senate president sits on UHV boards and committees such as the President’s Cabinet and the Academic Council.

Vic Morgan

“UHV’s faculty is one of the main elements that make this an outstanding university,” UHV Interim President Vic Morgan said. “Our Faculty Senate plays an important part in ensuring our faculty is represented, and I look forward to working with Beverly Tomek to make this a destination university for our students and faculty.”

Elsa Soto Leggett, an associate professor in the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development and the previous president, will stay on the Faculty Senate’s executive committee as past president. As Tomek prepares to step into her new leadership role, Leggett has some words of wisdom.

“It was helpful for me to listen to all the different ideas that people presented, whether from faculty, administration, student services or staff,” Leggett said. “That information and those ideas helped me and the executive committee going forward. I like to collaborate with executive committee members on issues and get their input on how we should proceed. Then I consider all those ideas before presenting anything.”

Elsa Soto Leggett

During 2014-2015, much of the Faculty Senate’s focus was on the transition taking place at UH Sugar Land, where UHV offers many of the degree programs. As plans move forward to turn UH Sugar Land into a UH campus and move UHV offices and courses to other locations, the Faculty Senate had to spend much of the year focused on the needs of the faculty during these moves and changes, Leggett said.

Overseeing the transition will again be a part of the Faculty Senate’s focus this year. In addition, Tomek has some other goals. In the spring, the university received a report from a consultant about ways to increase enrollment in Victoria. Tomek is looking forward to implementing some of his suggestions, including consolidating the university’s freshman initiatives with Living & Learning Communities and creating a program for undeclared majors.

She also plans to ask the Senate to revise the faculty manual to reflect changes in the structure of the university, such as the transition of the UHV School of Nursing to UH and the beginning of a new nursing program in the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development.

Tomek also is working with Jay Lambert, UHV vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, to devise an enrollment management plan to guide UHV’s efforts to recruit and retain students.

“I also hope to oversee faculty initiatives to create new programs to add to our offerings,” she said. “I especially would like to see us expand the programs we can offer to international students, and this would mean expanding our face-to-face courses.”

Tomek has a long history with UHV. Twenty years ago, she earned her bachelor’s in humanities and history from the university.

“We’ve come a long way from where we were when I first came here, and we’ll be making a lot more progress in the next few years,” Tomek said. “The faculty has worked hard to help turn this into a four-year destination university and will continue to do its part to help the university grow and thrive.”

Joining Tomek and Leggett on the Faculty Senate are:

Executive Committee

  • Secretary – Rachel Martinez, assistant professor, School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development

Senators

  • Justin Bell – assistant professor, School of Arts & Sciences
  • Dmitri Sobolev – assistant professor, School of Arts & Sciences
  • Mark Ward – assistant professor, School of Arts & Sciences
  • Joseph Ben-Ur – professor, School of Business Administration
  • Rachana Kalelkar – assistant professor, School of Business Administration
  • Ron Salazar – associate professor, School of Business Administration
  • Linda Autry – assistant professor, School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development
  • Katherine Bacon – assistant professor, School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development
  • Mary Lasater – assistant professor, School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development

The Faculty Senate meets once a month, and faculty members are welcome to attend. Twice a year, meetings are called for all faculty members. Meeting days, times and locations are posted on the Faculty Senate website.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations 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 a teaching center in Katy, 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.