New Faculty Senate president ready to step up

When Jim Higgins steps into his role as the next University of Houston-Victoria Faculty Senate president, he plans to focus on maintaining an open dialogue between the university’s faculty and administration.

Jim Higgins

“It’s essential that we constantly work to find common ground,” said Higgins, an assistant professor of history. “UHV is a growing school, and we have to have an involved faculty leadership if we want this institution to succeed. We’ve got to keep the lines of communication open between the administration and faculty so we can find the best situation for everyone.”

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.

Higgins officially will transition Monday from his current position as vice president into the president post. He is taking the reins from Beverly Tomek, also an assistant professor of history. She will move into the role of past president.

Tomek first recruited Higgins to UHV. He met Tomek when he was working on a research article for publication. Tomek was the editor for the journal publishing the article, and she knew his dissertation professor from when Higgins earned his doctorate at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.

Now, one of the first topics the Faculty Senate will need to address is the search for a new provost, Higgins said.

“We want someone with a strong presence and top-notch qualifications,” Higgins said. “Faculty members need someone they can depend on and work with as we keep pushing toward excellence. The provost will be key in helping ensure UHV continues to be a strong university.”

Higgins also wants to help faculty members in Katy have their voices heard. The university’s programs in Greater Houston are transitioning to a new Katy location this fall, 2002 W. Grand Parkway N. During that transition, and as the Victoria campus continues to grow, Higgins wants to help ensure that all opinions are heard and needs are met.

Don Smith

“I want to see UHV move forward, and I know all of the faculty are absolutely committed to that,” he said. “Above all, we want to make sure we produce top-notch graduates.”

Many UHV faculty members have lived in Victoria for a long time, Higgins said. They are part of the community, and their involvement outside the university also creates a commitment to improve and help the community UHV serves.

“The UHV Faculty Senate plays an essential role in university governance, ensuring that decision making is based on a full examination of issues and alternatives,” UHV Interim Provost Don Smith said. “The Senate represents the voice of the faculty, who are, of course, primarily responsible for carrying out the university missions of teaching and research – contributing to the knowledge of students and to the advancement of knowledge in the various fields of study and inquiry.”

Joining Higgins and Tomek on the Faculty Senate are:

Executive Committee

  • Vice President – Joseph Ben-Ur – professor, School of Business Administration


  • Justin Bell – assistant professor, School of Arts & Sciences
  • Jeffrey Sartain – assistant professor, School of Arts & Sciences
  • Mark Ward – associate professor, School of Arts & Sciences
  • Jeffrey Blodgett – professor, School of Business Administration
  • Jianjun Du – associate professor, School of Business Administration
  • Chun-Sheng Yu – associate professor, School of Business Administration
  • Katherine Bacon – assistant professor, School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development
  • Paul Carlson – professor, School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development
  • Lou Lloyd-Zannini – associate professor, School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development

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.