Antonio D. Tillis, Ph.D. was selected by University of Houston System Chancellor Dr. Renu Khator to take the helm as Interim President of the University of Houston-Downtown. He comes to UHD from the University of Houston, where he serves as Dean for the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences (CLASS) and MD Anderson Professor in Hispanic Studies. As CLASS Dean, his leadership extends across 13 academic departments, 10 academic areas and programs, 13 academic centers, six clinical service units, and more than 688 faculty members. Prior to UH, he served as Dean of the School of Languages, Culture & World Affairs at the College of Charleston; Chair of African & African American Studies at Dartmouth College, and the inaugural Chair of Latin American & Latino Studies at Purdue University. Dr. Tillis received a Ph.D. in Latin American literature with an Afro-Hispanic emphasis from the University of Missouri. He also holds a Master of Arts in Spanish Literature from Howard University and a Bachelor of Science in Spanish from Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Tillis is an internationally acclaimed scholar and author with specializations in Latin American, Afro-Latin American and African Diaspora literature. He is the author, editor, and co-editor of the following: The Afro-Hispanic Reader and Anthology (with Paulette Ramsay, Ian Randal, 2018), The Trayvon Martin in ‘US’: An American Tragedy (with Emmanuel Harris, Peter Lang, 2015), Critical Perspectives on Afro-Latin American Literature (Routledge, 2012, paperback 2013), Manuel Zapata Olivella e o escurecimento da literatura latino-americana (State University of Rio de Janeiro Press, 2013), (Re)Considering Blackness in Contemporary Afro-Brazilian (Con)Texts: A Cultural Studies Reader (Peter Lang, 2011); Caribbean-African Upon Awakening: Poetry by Blas Jiménez (Mango Publishing 2010); and Manuel Zapata Olivella and the “Darkening” of Latin American Literature (Missouri 2005). Dr. Tillis’ work has been featured in top journals, including Callaloo, Hispanic Journal, Mosaic, CLA Journal, and Transit Circle.
Dr. Tillis is the recipient of many prestigious honors and has served in various leadership roles. He was named one of the Top 50 African American Professionals and Entrepreneurs in Houston by d-mars Business Journal, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared March 7, 2017 “Dr. Antonio D. Tillis Day.” He was named the 2012 Lorna Hill Professor of the Year at Dartmouth College, served as president of the College Language Association from 2008 to 2010, and received the 2007 University Faculty Scholar award at Purdue University.
A native of Memphis, Dr. Tillis is a sought-after lecturer who has served as a visiting scholar at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, the State University of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. He has developed relationships with numerous universities in Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, France, Peru, Trinidad, Jamaica, Sweden, France, England, Costa Rica, Peru, Ghana, China, and Spain.