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UHD main building architecture


UHD Main building viewed from north east

The Opportunity

The University of Houston-Downtown is seeking applicants for the position of Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The new Dean will serve as the chief academic and administrative leader for the College. The Dean reports directly to the Provost and serves on the Provost’s Leadership Team and Dean’s Council. The Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences must demonstrate strategic and visionary leadership, outstanding interpersonal and communication skills, entrepreneurial drive, and a commitment to the mission of the College and University. The Dean will have a demonstrated commitment to excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, including scholarly pursuits and professional development of students and of faculty members and will be a strong and energetic advocate for the College and the University, securing support to achieve and maintain excellence and building academic, community, and corporate partnerships and collaborations. The ideal candidate will have a record of responding effectively to the rapidly changing demands on colleges and higher education, and a passion for diversity, equity, inclusion and social and racial justice.

The University

The University of Houston-Downtown was founded by the University of Houston Board of Regents, initially opening as the University of Houston-Downtown College (UHDC) in 1974. Five years later the Texas Legislature established UHDC as a separate and distinct institution in the University of Houston System. In 1983 UHD was designed as a four-year, degree-granting public University and was located in the historic Merchants and Manufacturers Building on the North side of Downtown Houston—a building named in the National Register of Historic Places. As a primarily undergraduate, federally-designated Minority- and Hispanic-Serving institution (MSI/HSI), UHD initially focused on its role as an urban university that serves both traditional-aged students and adults in the work force by offering select undergraduate degrees. Over the years the mission of the university was expanded, and in the 1990’s UHD was approved to offer graduate degrees at the Master’s level. UHD now has a portfolio of nationally-recognized Master’s degrees. In addition, the University has gained national recognition for its wireless campus and offers an array of online programs.

Today UHD is the second largest public university in the nation’s 4th largest city, and is one of the most diverse institutions in the nation. UHD currently enrolls over 15,000 undergraduate students and more than 1,500 graduate students that reflect the diversity of the Greater Houston area. The University is set on 40 acres in downtown Houston, and the growing campus includes a new Welcome Center, and a new Sciences and Technology building that is the first GOLD LEED certified building in the University of Houston System. UHD is a leader in the region in building transfer partnerships with local community college systems, making UHD a destination for community college students throughout the region.

Mission: The University of Houston-Downtown is a comprehensive four-year university offering bachelor’s and selected master’s degree programs and providing strong academic and career preparation as well as life-long learning opportunities. Located in the heart of the city, the University reflects the diversity of the Greater Houston Area, and through its academic programs, engages with the community to address the needs and advance the development of the region. UHD is an inclusive community dedicated to integrating teaching, service and scholarly research to develop students’ talents and prepare them for success in a dynamic global society.

Vision: The University of Houston-Downtown will be a premier city university engaging every student in high-impact educational experiences and ensuring that students graduate with 21st century skills.

UHD main building southeast view across Buffalo Bayou
The Academic Organization

The University of Houston–Downtown offers 44 undergraduate and nine graduate degree programs. Under the leadership of Provost Eric Link the university is organized into five colleges:

Marilyn Davies College of Business

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

College of Public Service

College of Sciences and Technology

University College

The College of Humanities & Social Sciences

The College of Humanities & Social Sciences (CHSS) offers 14 undergraduate programs and three master’s degrees and supports majors in all Colleges by delivering the foundational courses within the common core curriculum.

College Mission

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences provides the educational foundation of the university experience. CHSS values the diversity of humanity and the idea that education is essential for an empowered, free, and engaged citizenry capable of individual creativity and social responsibility. Students develop and apply knowledge through multiple disciplinary perspectives: historical and theoretical inquiry, critical analysis, quantitative and qualitative research, and creative cultural production. CHSS students gain crucial communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills necessary for professional success in complex global communities of the 21st century.


As the intellectual and creative center of the university, CHSS provides exceptional core education, vital academic programs and social justice initiatives that prepare our students for careers and contributions to broader communities.

CHSS Structure

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences includes four departments:

Arts and Communications

Majors are offered in Communication Studies and Fine Arts with courses offered in art, art history, communication studies, drama, and dramatic history, music and music history.

History, Humanities and Languages

Majors are offered in History; Humanities; Philosophy and Spanish with courses offered in history, humanities, philosophy and foreign languages.


Majors are offered in English and Technical Communication with courses in composition, creative writing, film studies, literature, professional writing, reading, linguistics, rhetoric and technical communication and American Studies.

Social Sciences Social Sciences

Majors are offered in Health and Behavioral Science; Political Science; Psychology; Sociology and Social Sciences with courses in anthropology, health and behavioral sciences, non-profit management, political science, pre-law studies, psychology, social sciences and sociology.

Each department in the College offers courses in the Online Teaching Initiative. Considerable resources are available to the faculty to prepare and present online education to enrolled students. One opportunity provided the faculty is Blackboard Course Design Demonstrations. The institution has made significant investments in library resources for online teaching and there are existing resources available for linking Blackboard to online learning.

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Graduate Programs

The CHSS offers three graduate programs:

M.A. in Non-Profit Management

M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition

M.S. in Technical Communication

Graduate Certificate Programs in

  • Composition Studies
  • History
  • Leadership and Strategic Planning, and
  • Plain Language

An important feature of the CHSS are the Arts and Centers. The University supports the following Centers or Institutes that not only provide additional learning resources for the campus but create a bridge to the Greater Houston community, addressing community and cultural issues by providing education and a space for learning and dialogue. These Centers are:

  • O’Kane Gallery
  • O'Kane Theatre
  • Center for Critical Race Studies
  • Center for Latino Studies
  • Center for Public Deliberation
  • Cultural Enrichment Center
  • Institute for Plain English Research & Study
  • Minority Male Success Programs
  • UHD iRadio

Faculty and Staff

The college is currently supported by the following administrative structure:

  • Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Interim Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Assistant Dean of the College of Humanities of Social Sciences
  • Department Business Administrator (4 positions)
  • College Business Administrator (1 position

The University has approximately 730 academic and administrative faculty and staff. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences has approximately 227 faculty teaching in these programs.

Two UHD students reading on a bench east side of building  

The Students

UHD is an urban MSI and HSI-campus with no residential housing. The average age of the UHD undergraduate student is 27 years, 60% are female, and approximately 70% transfer to UHD with college credits. Upwards of 50% of UHD students are classified as first-generation, and approximately 50% are full-time students. Most of UHD’s student population comes from the greater Houston Metro area, with more than 11,000 coming from the immediate Harris County area. A majority of UHD students attended high school in the Houston Independent School District (HISD), the largest school district in Texas, and the 7th largest school district in the United States. More than half of UHD students are Pell eligible. UHD takes great pride in the providing a small liberal arts style education and opportunities for students. Basic services for Counseling and Health Services are available and numerous student organizations, Sports and Fitness, Greek life and honor societies are featured on campus.

There are over 90 student organizations that provide numerous opportunities to be involved on campus and in the community. A major feature of the student life programs is the Club and e- Sports programs. Among the more popular Club Sports teams are men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and the runner’s club.

Group of UHD students in the library
Fast Facts

Enrollment (Fall 2020)

Student body

  • Total: 15,239
  • Female: 62.3%
  • Male: 37.7%
  • Full-time students: 45.9%
  • Part-time students: 54.1%

UHD women's soccer


  • American Indian: 0.1%
  • Asian or Pacific Islander: 8.9%
  • Black: 19.6%
  • Hispanic: 52.4%
  • International: 2.3%
  • White: 13.7%
  • Unknown: 0.7%


  • 14-21: 28%
  • 22-24: 21%
  • 25-30: 25%
  • 31-35: 11%
  • 36-50: 13%
  • Over 50: 3%

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Points of Pride

The impact that UHD has on the community and its students is significant. Since its founding it has served a population of students who are older and many working fulltime. With more than 49,000 alumni, the University has helped shape the Houston workforce. Among the points of distinction are:

  • Recognized by U.S. News and World Report for Best Online Bachelor’s Program for the Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences in Applied Administration degree offered through the University College.
  • Recognized by U.S. News and World Report as the best of the best in its annual assessment of online higher education programs. The online Master of Science in Criminal Justice, based in the College of Public Service, which is ranked No. 21 in the nation. It also is ranked No. 14 for Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs for Veterans.
  • College Consensus recognized UHD as one of country's Best Online Master’s in Nonprofit Management for 2020, ranked No. 24.
  • Chronicle of Higher Education listed UHD among the top 10 U.S. public four-year universities graduating the highest percentages of students by their fifth or sixth year. UHD was the only Texas institution in the top 10.
  • The University of Houston-Downtown is a national recipient of the 2019 and 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine. UHD was among 92 honorees from across the United States recognized for their outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion and academic success rates.
  • UHD’s 2019 retention rate for first-time, full-time degree seeking students exceeds the national average, at 73%.
  • UHD is experiencing its third consecutive year of increasing enrollments.

UHD main building from south west side

The Leadership Responsibilities/Opportunities

UHD is seeking a visionary candidate to engage in leadership opportunities guided by the UHD Strategic Plan and designed to grow and strengthen the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at UHD through vision and bold initiatives. With the Revised Strategic Plan 2015-2020 coming to a close and the development of a new Strategic Plan for the University underway, the successful candidate will have an opportunity to shape the future for the college and the institution.

UHD is seeking a visionary candidate to engage in leadership opportunities guided by the UHD Strategic Plan and designed to grow and strengthen the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at UHD through vision and bold initiatives. With the Revised Strategic Plan 2015-2020 coming to a close and the development of a new Strategic Plan for the University underway, the successful candidate will have an opportunity to shape the future for the college and the institution.

Program Growth and Refinement – the Dean of CHSS is responsible for continuing to responsibly enhance the academic programs throughout the College, both by more fully developing and supporting recently created programs, as well as by strategically identifying additional programs that will ensure the continued academic health and success of the College.

Partnership Building – The Dean will take the lead in enhancing current partnerships across the UHD campus, as well as expanding important relationships beyond the campus. Working across the institution with key leaders from the other colleges, as well as areas such as student life and advancement, will ensure the continued success of all. In addition, key partnerships also exist, or should be enhanced, with other institutions in the greater Houston area, as well as the other institutions within the UH system. The Dean’s leadership to identify those that are most important to the success of the College will be key, as well as support for enhancing these relationships where appropriate, and developing new partnerships within both the public and private sectors to enhance student learning and opportunity for the college.

Community Engagement – The College of Humanities and Social Sciences is eclectic and diverse, which brings enormous strength and opportunity to the University. The Dean has a critical role to play in engaging with all members--students, faculty and staff--providing leadership in the building of a sense of shared community and common purpose. The Dean will set the tone for community engagement and enhancement, and will support efforts from within the College to build and enhance these networks, providing avenues for innovative and high-impact faculty and student engagement with both internal and external communities and stakeholder groups.

Student Success – CHSS is responsible for supporting students across the university by providing a robust core curriculum experience for all undergraduates, requiring strong partnerships with the other colleges to ensure these programs are providing the necessary successful start for all UHD students, and that students are successfully completing the necessary coursework in a timely way. The Dean will provide leadership in ensuring that the curricula are effectively delivered and that student support services are available so that all students thrive and progress to graduation, regardless of their academic background, history, or entry point into the institution.

Resource Management and Advancement – The Dean is responsible for providing leadership in the creation of appropriate resource management plans, and working with all members of the college to ensure that needs are clearly articulated and presented through the annual budget process and throughout the year. In addition, there is an expectation of some level of fundraising success for the Dean, working in partnership with the Advancement office, the Provost’s Office, and other institutional offices as needed.

Research and Professional Development – in support of the CHSS faculty, the Dean will lead efforts to expand the research support available, and to ensure that professional development programs are available to all who are interested. Given the broad nature of the College’s academic departments, these opportunities will vary significantly, and the Dean will ensure that needs are well-described and feasible for all faculty to enhance their professional activities and engage with the larger academic community regionally and nationally. Working with the faculty of the college, the Dean will provide vision and leadership for growing professional development opportunities for faculty, and for enhancing the profile of the college in terms of creativity and both basic and applied research.

The Dean serves as the chief academic and administrative leader for the college and serves on the Provost's leadership team and dean's council. The Dean has primary responsibility for the following areas:

Vision and strategic planning

  • Establish a shared vision through best practices in collaboration that promotes the College consistent with the mission of the University of Houston-Downtown and its strategic plan; work with university leaders, faculty, and staff to develop and implement the University's strategic plan.
  • Implement a clear and concise transformational college strategic plan to advance that vision, informed by input of multiple college constituencies.

Academic program leadership

  • Ensure the quality of the academic programming of the College, working closely with Dept Chairs and faculty.
  • Foster an organizational and educational climate that promotes and celebrates diversity and inclusion in curriculum, hiring, and decision-making processes.
  • Work with faculty to identify, develop, and grow academic or extracurricular programs that will meet student career needs.
  • Provide leadership in program assessment, external program review, professional accreditation and College departmental reorganization completion/evaluation.
  • Oversee the College faculty in the development of policies governing its academic programs and enact and promote UHD policies and procedures.
  • Provide leadership, oversight and support for all of the College Centers.
  • Provide vision and direction for recruitment, advisement, registration, and retention efforts in the College; maintain a consistent focus on student success in line with college and institutional goals.
  • Ensure the integrity of the Rank and Tenure process across the College.
  • Provide consistent and complete dean-level evaluation of candidate dossiers.
  • Develop college-level policies and initiatives designed to improve teaching and learning within all curricula of the College.
  • Establish College-wide policies and initiatives designed to elevate the research profile of the College and work to provide faculty with resources/opportunities for professional development activities.

Internal and External partnerships

  • Develop successful and productive internal and external partnerships and relationships for the College.
  • Create collaboration with Greater Houston Area public and community-based agencies, as needed and appropriate to advancing the work of the College.
  • Oversee integrated transfer partnerships with community colleges in the Gulf Coast Region.
  • Expand and strengthen liaisons with domestic and international educational institutions to promote articulation, communication, and exchanges.

Leadership/Management for the College

  • Set priorities related to resource allocation for preparing the annual budget requests for the College, and ensure the careful stewardship of the College’s financial resources.
  • Make sure that the work of the College is accomplished according to all relevant system and institutional policy and regulations and in accordance with the principle of shared governance.
  • Establish, model, and promote a cooperative, collegial work climate and culture across the College that is founded on transparency, trust, fairness, and mutual respect and support across faculty and staff members of the College.
  • Provide student success leadership through administration of current operations, assessment of processes and data-based revisions of academic advising, student retention and mentoring efforts in collaboration with staff and faculty.
  • Evaluate chairs, staff, and other direct reports annually.
  • Guarantee that all reporting requirements (internal and external) of the College are fulfilled effectively in a timely fashion, including any/all reporting needed for SACSCOC or THECB reporting or for college-specific accrediting agencies, as well as all college and institutional assessment efforts.

Representing the College

  • Represent the College to internal and external audiences.
  • Make sure that the activities, initiatives, and accomplishments of the college are communicated to stakeholders.
  • Establish regular and transparent communication pathways with all constituencies regarding the vision, resource allocations, and issues facing the College.
  • Advocate for the faculty, students, and programs of the College in the larger institutional context.

Revenue Enhancement

  • Direct development efforts for all programs in the College in partnership with University Advancement and the Office of the Provost.
  • Pursue revenue growth through development, grants and contracts, and professional development programs for the advancement of College resources.
  • Build enrollment in programs across the College according to mission and strategic planning goals.

The Qualifications/Desired Attributes

It is essential that the Dean have strong leadership skills as well as the ability to quickly grasp the College culture and work collaboratively with constituent groups. This person should be an active listener who brings a sense of affirmation to the faculty and administrative colleagues, as well as with students informally and through more formal advisory structures as appropriate. The specific qualifications for the position are as follows:

  • Terminal degree and successful teaching, scholarship, professional service, and creative accomplishments in an arts, humanities, and/or social sciences discipline or related area commensurate with the rank of Professor with tenure in a discipline within the college
  • Broad knowledge of the disciplines in the arts, humanities, and social sciences and ability to foster collaboration across content areas
  • Evidence of superior interpersonal and group communication skills, and ability to work effectively in a diverse and multi-cultural community
  • Evidence of collegial and authentic collaboration with administrators, faculty, and staff across the disciplines in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, throughout the University, and within the larger community
  • Evidence of successful administrative experience, including in-depth knowledge of strategic planning and effective community engagement
  • Evidence of successful financial management and budgeting skills
  • Evidence of collegial leadership in faculty development and commitment to fostering faculty growth and development
  • Evidence of support and enhancement of diversity in faculty, staff, and student populations and experience with social justice issues and concerns
  • Experience in working effectively with local, state, and national arts and humanities organizations and governmental agencies
  • Knowledge of curriculum development for both undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Experience with accreditation and self-study processes
  • Ability to support technological applications in the arts, humanities and social sciences; and
  • Interest and experience in development of interdisciplinary programs within the arts, humanities and social sciences and with content areas outside the College

In addition, the following educational background and attributes are preferred:

  • Demonstrated ability to motivate stakeholders and to develop and engage in collaborative relationships
  • Demonstrated ability to participate in shared governance
  • Demonstrated record of external development activities resulting in major gifts
  • Ability to foster partnerships and programs to advance the College's and University's goals
  • Demonstrated ability to enhance brand management in the arts and social sciences or higher education generally
  • Broad understanding of the direction of humanities and social science education and research and the ability to articulate the College's vision that positions the College as a successful enterprise, and
  • High energy coupled with enthusiastic leadership abilities

The search is being assisted by:


Oscar C. Page, Ph.D.
Senior Consultant, AGB Search

Margaret Plympton, Ed.D.
Principal, AGB Search

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Last updated 2/25/2021 9:01 AM