Paul Wong Named New COLA Dean

May 28, 2015


After a highly competitive national search, The University of Texas at Arlington announces the appointment of Dr. Paul Wong, dean of the College of Arts and Letters at San Diego State University, as the incoming Dean of the College of Liberal Arts effective July 1, 2015.

Dr. Wong brings to UT Arlington a distinguished record of academic accomplishment at SDSU’s largest single college that includes 18 academic departments, 15 centers and institutes, a number of research journals and the SDSU Press. The college employs more than 500 full-time and part-time faculty as well as graduate assistants; currently produces about one-third of the credit hours taken by the 35,000 students; and offers bachelors, masters, Master of Fine Arts and doctoral degrees. Dr. Wong also is also director of International Partnerships at SDSU, a professor of sociology and oversees the Social Science Research Laboratory and the Charles Hostler Institute for World Affairs.



English’s Roemer Co-Authors Teaching Book

May 22, 2015


Two University of Texas at Arlington faculty members are among the co-authors of a new book that aims to help both new and experienced teachers better guide and inspire college students to find their passion, expand their knowledge and ultimately pursue their dreams.

The University of Texas Press published The Little Orange Book: Short Lessons in Excellent Teaching in April. The book is the result of a collaborative effort among members of the University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers, which includes professors Kenneth Roemer (English) and Mary Lynn Crow (College of Education).

The book provides teachers across all levels of the education landscape with suggestions designed to fuel creativity, encourage innovation and enhance student outcomes.



(SOURCE: Bridget Lewis/UTA Media Relations)

Alumnus Witness to Nepal Disaster, Recovery

May 21, 2015
Kapil Mani Dixit, right, poses with one of his creations in a publicity photo. (Photo byMotiram Maharjan)

Kapil Mani Dixit, right, poses with one of his creations in a publicity photo. (Photo byMotiram Maharjan)

On the morning of April 25, Kathmandu resident Kapil Mani Dixit (’04) awoke early to visit his friend’s mother in the hospital. By the time he reached town, he saw a motorbike suddenly falling over on the street. Second later, he and the rest of the area residents were scrambling amidst a devastating earthquake.

A magnitude 7.8 quake hit central Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people and injuring 19,000 more as entire villages were flattened. Originating in the village of Barpak, Gorkha district, 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu, the quake left hundreds of thousands homeless and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing 19 people.

A second, 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit May 12. More than 200 people were killed and more than 2,500 were injured. The two quakes are the worst disasters to hit the Asian region since 1934.

Via email, Dixit described the level of destruction he witnessed in the days that followed the April 25 quake:

“Kathmandu is one of the ancient cities of Nepal and is surrounded by many temples, artifacts and world heritage sites,” he said. “Most of the ancient temples have either been destroyed or collapsed by this disaster.Most of the images [broadcast around the world] were either of the collapsed buildings or of the people buried under the rubble or destroyed temples. Live videos and CCTV footage of the earthquake were also circulated widely after the earthquake.”

As Dixit made plans to leave Nepal and reunite with his family in Australia, rescue efforts were coordinated through local groups first, then had the assistance of international aid relief.

“Local communities were leading the relief and rescue operations in the beginning,” he said. “Eventually foreign aid started coming in. However, the youths and the locals are still helping each other and supporting the rescue and recovery activities.”

Dixit, an artist who studied fine art at North Lake College and at UT Arlington in the Department of Art & Art History, said many of Nepal’s historical sculptures, temples and wall paintings have been destroyed.

“These were the precious part of our culture and heritage, which dated centuries back,” he said.

Nepal’s National Academy of Fine Arts building was severely damaged in the quake. While most of the valuable artwork was recovered, the ancient building is left in shambles. Dixit said the personal studios and galleries of many Nepalese artists have also been damaged.

Once the immediate needs for displaced victims have been met, Dixit said he and his colleagues would turn their attention to recovering and restoring Nepal’s rich art and cultural artifacts.

“People are already voicing their opinion to rebuild such structures,” he said. “However, it requires huge financial and technical investment.”

Dixit is no stranger to utilizing art for charity: A day before the April 25 earthquake, he donated 32 paintings and organized an art auction to raise funds to build school in Dolpa, one of the more remote districts of Nepal. In 2012, he submitted work for auction to benefit the Help Nepal Network. Most of this 17 paintings – inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas and Vincent van Gogh’s The Bedroom – were sold and proceeds given to the charity.

Dixit plans to utilize galleries and auction houses in Australia and Nepal to sell some of his work and drive proceeds to earthquake victims.

“Now, the priority is to rebuild the nation and fulfill basic needs of the victims. The whole economy of the nation will be affected,” he said. “But this doesn’t mean I will totally stop painting. I will support my country and victims through my artwork. This will impact my career and art in general.”

To learn more about the quake’s impact on Nepali artists like Dixit, view a special Facebook page.


COLA Celebrates Spring 2015 Commencement

May 18, 2015

Several thousand UT Arlington faculty, students, family members and friends were on-hand Friday, May 15, for the Spring 2015 College of Liberal Arts Commencement at the College Park Center. Dallas attorney Jeronimo Valdez (’99) gave the keynote address and nearly 800 graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.


COLA Faculty Hoods Spring 2015 Graduates

May 15, 2015

The College of Liberal Arts hosted a hooding ceremony May 15 for master’s of arts and master’s of music graduates. Nearly three dozen graduates participated in the event in the Lone Star Auditorium at the Mavericks Activities Center.

Log on to the COLA Graduate Studies’ webpage to view participants by department.

COLA Notes for May 2015

May 12, 2015

News and notes from around the College of Liberal Arts…

ART & ART HISTORY: Associate Professor Darryl Lauster authored an op-ed piece for The Conversation focused on debate spurred by Ohad Meromi’s “Sunbather,” an abstract figuration embellished in bright pink that has been selected for installation in Long Island City. … A story about the Dallas Art Fair noted The Consortium, a collaborative of graduate students and faculty at UT Arlington, Southern Methodist University and University of Texas at Dallas. The group includes Senior Lecturer Stephen Lapthisophon and Lauster. … Associate Professor Bart Weiss was featured in a CW 33 story about Dallas’ 24 Hour Video Race. The event had more than 60 teams from all over North Texas creating 5-minute films from scratch in just one day. … Assistant Professor Ya’Ke Smith, the Morgan Woodward Distinguished Professor of Film, won the Dallas International Film Festival’s Short Film Competition Special Jury Prize for his short film, “One Hitta Quitta.” An interview by Smith was posted last month on The City of Arlington website, MyArlingtonTX. … Weiss and Smith were included in a panel discussion before a campus screening of “American Sniper,” according to an article in The Shorthorn. … The work of nationally acclaimed artist Assistant Professor Sedrick Huckaby was featured at the conclusion of Terrell ArtWalk last Saturday in a special reception in the main lobby of American National Bank of Texas, The Terrell Tribune reported. Huckaby’s work has been displayed at art houses and galleries in Dallas, Boston, Chicago, North Carolina, Minneapolis and Fort Worth. … The department hosted a small painting sale April 23 at the Studio Arts Center, featuring student work.

CENTER FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES: Valene Garr, Dr. Joniqua Howard and Rebecca Garner were panelist at “Minority Health Disparities: Heart Disease and Diabetes,” a community discussion April 14 hosted by the Center. … The Center held it’s annual recognition ceremony May 1 in the Rio Grande Room of the E.H. Hereford University Center.

COMMUNICATION: The Department of Communication celebrated Spring 2015 with its annual convocation ceremony April 17 in the Mavericks Activity Center Lounge. Dayton Bell, Shelby Cummings, Amanda Gilliam, Brianna Glover, Rebecca Groves, Amanda Haddad, Amanda Kent, Seongho Kim, Katie Krivit, Latresa Mattox, Patricia Mireles, Emily Nelson, Peace Nguyen, Christian Nisttahuz, Rebecca Pepper, Ana Rais, Roxanna Salmeron, Stephanie Scoggins, Alok Shrestha, Jessica Stroud and Umair Ali were inducted into the Communication Honor Society. Amanda Gilliam, Dayton Bell and Makayla Kinney were inducted into the UTA chapter of Kappa Tau Alpha. Sequence coordinators also honored outstanding seniors: Katie Krivit (advertising), Jessica Stroud (broadcast), Grace Fisher (communication studies), Patricia Mireles (communication technology), Raegan Cardwell (journalism) and Maritza Moreno (public relations). This year’s outstanding graduate student is Alexandra Beshkova. Scholarship recipients included Aisha Willis (Charles Arrendell Scholars and Donna Darovich Scholar); Syeda Tazeen Fatima Jafri, Nadajalah Bennett, Maria Cruz, and Robert Malone (Donald & Dorothy Bunnell Scholars); Rafael Sears (Jack Butler Award); Grant McKinley (Lloyd Clark Scholar); Reachelle Spieker and Sean Fuller (Mark Holtz Scholars); Lawanda McKelvy (Karin McCallum Scholar); Kathryn Cargo (Neva McMurry Reidel Scholar and Murray & Nona Poston Scholar); Secret Bridgewater and Amanda Augustine (George W. and Lana B. Proctor Scholar); Jasmine Faronbi (Phillip Lynn Hall Scholar); and De’Angela Giles (DFWIMA Scholar). … Associate Professor and Department Chair Charla Markham Shaw and Assistant Professor Karishma Chatterjee will present an original research paper, “Safer-Sex Health Information Sources and Messaging: Targeting U.S. Young Adults” at the International Society of Communication Science and Medicine in Italy from June 11-17. … Graphic Specialist Roby McEuen lent his acting talents to MFA student Brendan Feltrup-Exum’s mockumentary The Dialogue Interchange Program. The film was screened in April and was featured in a Shorthorn article. … Senior Lecturer Susan Nead was honored for 25 years of service at the UT Arlington Employee Recognition Ceremonies last month. … The Department of Communication sponsored a table at the April SPJ FW First Amendment Awards. Assistant Professor Dustin Harp, Senior Lecturer Kim Jones and Communication Lecturer Austin Robinson attended. Journalism major Hannah Floyd received a scholarship at the event. … Cliff Reed (’13) is a journalism teacher at Duncanville High. He’s also pursuing a master’s degree at UTA in educational leadership. … Crystal Iacuone (’14) was recently hired as a technical project manager by Distribion, Inc., a Web-based marketing solution provider. … Derek Kaufman (’14) has been hired as Video Editor on Channel 33’s Newsfix. … Former journalism major Britt LaRiviere is the founder of The Speed Gamers, an organization that hosts marathon gaming sessions and raises money for charity. Read more at the group’s website. … After 54 years of teaching, former UT Arlington journalism lecturer David McHam (University of Houston) retired, reported. McHam also taught at Southern Methodist University and Baylor University, and wrote for several newspapers. … The Fayetteville Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Chad Scott (’90) as the new principal of Fayetteville, Ark., High School, reported. … Broadcast students Alexa Stickler, Maria Cruz, and Nancy Salas have been accepted for summer internships with the Children’s Medical Center Red Balloon Network. … Broadcasting senior Arian Hernandez will spend his summer months interning with NBC/Telemundo. … Broadcasting majors Reginald Adetula, Froylan Guerrero, Sam Hales and Hernandez got the opportunity to tour HBO production trucks and a production set-up in the College Park Center. HBO Boxing was producing a live event from campus on April 18. … Students Associate Professor Shelley Wigley’s public relations campaigns class have made it to the finals of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Recruitment Challenge through EdVenture Partners and will represent UTA in Houston on May 15. Students created an on-campus “Petrol Party” where they educated UT Arlington students on the importance of petrochemicals in everyday life and discussed job opportunities in the fuel and petrochemical fields. … Broadcasting students in Lecturer LaDonna Aiken‘s TV Production I class were treated to a tour of Studios 121 in April. The students had hands-on training with equipment at the production facility, and recorded a mock news brief and commercial.

Assistant Professor Erika Pribanic-Smith (Communication), right, introduces legendary sportscaster Bob Costas during a Q-and-A session with UT Arlington students on April 13. Costas spoke at the Maverick Speaker Series event in the College Park Center late that night. (Photo by Jason Smith)

Assistant Professor Erika Pribanic-Smith (Communication), right, introduces legendary sportscaster Bob Costas during a Q-and-A session with UT Arlington students on April 13. Costas spoke at the Maverick Speaker Series event in the College Park Center late that night. (Photo by Jason Smith)

CRIMINOLOGY & CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Beginning June 1, the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice will welcome a new chair: Professor Kent Ryan Kerley. Kerley hails from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he was director of a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

DISABILITY STUDIES: Graduating seniors Jeremy Schack and Miranda Moore will be feted at a reception at 2 p.m. Friday, May 15, in University Hall, Room 108. The Arlington Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities will also attend.

ENGLISH: Professor Stacy Alaimo will present “Science and Aesthetics in William Beebe’s Elusive Seas,” an invited talk, May 18 at Stanford University. She will also present research at the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) conference June 23-27 at the University of Idaho. … Professor and Department Chair Bruce Krajewski has been invited to present his research paper, “The Legacy of Cain, Builder of Cities: Crime and Megacity,” at the Utopian Studies Society’s 16th Annual International Conference on July 1-4 in Newcastle, England. … Associate Professor Luanne Frank was honored for 45 years of service at the UT Arlington Employee Recognition Ceremonies last month. … Frank recently saw her article, “Kleist’s Phenomenological Nightmare: ‘St. Cecilia or the Power of Music’ and its Holy Mary Images,” published in Glimpse: Phenomenology and Media. … Edgar Award-winning author Ben Winters (The Last Policeman) visited UT Arlington on April 16 in a special session and book signing for students and faculty.

HISTORY: Focus Daily News reported that Associate Professor and Department Chair Marvin Dulaney discussed the legacy of Judge Louis A. Bedford during the 2015 Royce West Forum and Lecture Series at Prairie View A&M University last month. Bedford was the first African-American judge to serve in Dallas County in 1966. He died last year. … Professor Andrew Milson has been named a 2015 recipient of the Distinguished Teacher (Higher Education) Award from the National Council for Geographic Education. He receive his award at a special ceremony in August. … Associate Professor Stephanie Cole is one of three editors for Texas Women: Their Histories, Their Lives. A review of the new book published last month in The Dallas Morning News. … Members of Kappa Alpha fraternity held a fundraiser last week for Adjunct Professor Cynthia Clark who was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease last year, The Shorthorn reported. … UTA Libraries Special Collections recently updated its digital collection and now offers hundreds of photos online.

LINGUISTICS & TESOL: Four linguists won awards at the 2015 acCOLAdes on April 16: majors Kelsey Griffith (Shirlee J. and Taylor Gandy Endowed Scholarship) and Devin Hornick (COLA Scholar); and doctoral students Ji Yea Kim (Dean’s Excellence Scholarship) and Dan Amy (COLA Scholar). … At the departmental awards ceremony on May 1, a number of students were awarded research funding through the endowment set up by Professor Emeritus Jerold A. Edmondson. Winners included doctoral student Darcey Browning, for work on discourse markers Cajun English; MA student Kimberly Johnson for work on characteristics of the Muskogean languages; doctoral student Ji Yea Kim for work on the prosody of Korean; doctoral student Juyoung Lee for work on phrasal verbs in Korean; doctoral student Stephen Self for work on variable telicity in the verbs of Khmer; and doctoral student Ehsan Shafiee Zargar for work on Persian-English code switching. Funding was also awarded via the Linguistics and TESOL Alumni Endowment, established by alumna Dr. Robin Lombard, to doctoral student Ehsan Shafiee Zargar for work on transposed letter priming effects with two types of morphological structures in Persian. The Feigenbaum award for outstanding work in TESOL was given to MA student Carrie Sullivan. Four summer dissertation fellowship winners were announced. These were won by doctoral students JungAe Lee AllmanIya Price, Juyoung Lee and Jessica Rohr. Photos from end of the year ceremony can be found in the department’s Facebook album. … Dr. Joey Sabbagh, newly tenured, will be a keynote speaker at the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association conference May 21-23 at McGill University in Montreal. He will be giving a talk titled: “Prosodic evidence for the derivation of verb initial word order in Tagalog.” Sabbagh also had a paper, “Specificity and objecthood in Tagalog,” accepted to the Journal of Linguistics. … A paper, “Orthographic and phonological form interference during silent reading,” co-written by doctoral student Iya Price, Assistant Professor Naoko Witzel and Assistant Professor Jeffrey Witzel was also recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. … Assistant Professor Cynthia Kilpatrick and doctoral students Lori Pierce and Jessica Rohr received SLOAN Consortium scholarships to enroll in the OLC’s Online Teaching Certificate training this summer, sponsored by the Center for Distance Education. … Doctoral student Samantah Cornelius received a $3,000 Jacobs Research Funds Grant from the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., who provide grants for anthropological and linguistic research working with Native American peoples. She has also received $3,500 in support from the Philips Fund Grant for Native American Research through the American Philosophical Society. … Graduating Linguistics major Nick Matthews has accepted a position as assistant project manager at the Teneo Linguistics Company, a translation company located in Fort Worth. … Graduating senior Jessica Nordon has set up a GoFundMe page to fund a trip in which she will volunteer in an orphanage in Nepal after graduation, according to an article in The Shorthorn. … Patricia Whitlock (BA Linguistics, ’14) was accepted to the MA program in computational linguistics at Brandeis University. … Mohamed Mwamzandi (PhD in Linguistics, ’14) has taken a position as a Lecturer in the Department of African, African American & Diaspora Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

MODERN LANGUAGE: Associate Professor Pete Smith (German), vice provost for digital teaching and learning, was honored for 25 years of service at the UT Arlington Employee Recognition Ceremonies last month.

MUSIC: Professor and Department Chair Rick Bogard was honored for 25 years of service at the UT Arlington Employee Recognition Ceremonies last month. … noted a lecture by cellist and Professor John Burton given during the 2015 American String Teachers Association Conference last month. He explained how the physics of sound relates to good tone. “When you are playing the violin, viola, cello or bass, you’re playing a complex standing wave,” Burton said. “We have the ability to be very discriminant, when it comes to intonation.” … The UT Arlington Jazz Combo, Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Orchestra performed last month at the annual Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival in downtown Fort Worth.

PHILOSOPHY: Associate Professor Keith Burgess-Jackson was honored for 25 years of service at the UT Arlington Employee Recognition Ceremonies last month. … The department hosted a talk by Robyn Repko Waller (University of Alabama) about free will and blame April 17 in College Hall. … The University Classics Club and the department hosted Richard Bett (Johns Hopkins University) in an “Adventures in Antiquity” series lecture April 24.

POLITICAL SCIENCE: Associate Professor Allan Saxe was honored for 50 years of service at the UT Arlington Employee Recognition Ceremonies last month. Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow relied Saxe’s teaching experience for a recent column about the future of the United States. … Saxe moderated an Arlington mayoral candidate debate last month at the Maverick Activities Center, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Incumbent Robert Cluck debated challenger Jeff Williams at the event. Williams won the May 8 election. … Professor Joseph Ignagni was honored for 25 years of service at the UT Arlington Employee Recognition Ceremonies last month. … Professor José Ángel Gutiérrez spoke May 1 at the Tejano Civil Rights Museum during a Chicano Symposium, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported. Gutiérrez co-founded La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. … New bills could impose strict rules on manufacture and sale of electronic nicotine delivery devices, Al Jazeera America reported. Professor Thomas Marshall, who is writing a book about policy, public opinion and smoking, said there are many unanswered questions about e-cigarettes and the liquids in them. … Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would be looking at a deep bench to choose from for a running mate, the Raycom News Network and dozens of its media affiliates reported. For Democrat voters who would favor a woman on the ticket, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO, is a political veteran who could withstand national scrutiny, said Associate Professor and Department Chair Rebecca Deen. … Assistant Professor Daniel Sledge said legalization of marijuana in Texas will take some time, according to an article in The Shorthorn. … Author James L. Haley (’75) discussed the history of Hawaii at a Friends of the UTA Library meeting April 17 in the Central Library.

SOCIOLOGY & ANTHROPOLOGY: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology held its annual awards banquet May 6 in the University Club. Some of the student scholarship winners were: KeAmber Green (Blaine T. and Jean W. Williams Endowed Scholarship in Sociology); Christina Carney (Junior Woman’s Club of Fort Worth Endowed Scholarship); Shawn Dunlap and Rosa Hayes (Suzanne & Paul Baldon and Linda Gregg & Matthew Craig Award in Anthropology); and Anne Base, Jamaica Kennedy, James Reinoehl, Reynaldo Rangel and Erin Taylor (ASA Student Department Prize ). Graduating students, honor roll nominees and inductees for Lambda Alpha and Alpha Kappa Delta were also honored. … Associate Professor Karl Petruso (Anthropology), dean of the Honors College, was honored for 25 years of service at the UT Arlington Employee Recognition Ceremonies last month.… A Washington Post WorldViews blog remembering famed Indian cartoonist R. K. Laxman mentioned Associate Professor Ritu Khanduri, who discussed Laxman’s work and importance with PRI’s The World in January. … Professor Ben Agger contributed a chapter, “Oversharing: The Eclipse of Privacy in the Internet Age,” to a recently published book, International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition (Elsevier). … Agger, director of the Center for Theory, wrote an opinion piece for warning that as universities are forced to become more business-like, they should be wary about adopting a business model of all things. … Associate Professor Christian Zlolniski (Anthropology), along with co-authors Laura Velasco and Marie Laure Coubes of Mexico, recently published a new book, De Jornaleros a Colonos: Residencia, Trabajo e Identidad en el Valle de San Quintin (Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Mexico). The book examines the growth of an agro-export enclave in Northern Mexico and a new labor movement that impacted indigenous farmers.

THEATRE ARTS: UTA FabLab and Maverick Theatre Company recent joined forces to create a video about costume construction. The video features Theatre Arts major Alexandria Fazzari. … Assistant Professor Anne Healy will be working with the award-winning regional theatre “Goodspeed Musicals” in Connecticut this summer, assisting and observing three-time Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes). Her paper, “An Unlikely Star: Bert Williams,” was accepted for presentation at the Song Stage & Screen conference held at Regent’s University in London in June. … In late July, Healy will travel to Montreal, Canada, to direct a staged reading of “The Second Girl” by award-winning playwright Ronan Noone as a part of the Association of Theatre in Higher Education’s International Conference and New Play Development initiative. … Senior Lecturer Julienne Greer received a faculty research award from the College of Liberal Arts for the acquisition and use of “Pepper, an emotional robot” during a Fall 2015 course, “Humans and Robots: The Future is Here.” Greer also attended UT Arlington Research Institute (UTARI) special showcase to celebrate the National Robotics Week on April 8. … Scenic Designer Michelle Harvey created scenic design for “Britten, Beatles, and Bond” for the Turtle Creek Chorale at the Dallas City Performance Hall which opened April 23. Theatre Arts majors Omar Gonzalez and Ethan Bomyea and alumnus Raul Luna worked with Harvey on the project. … Adjunct instructor Danielle Georgiou, director of UTA Dance Ensemble, was interviewed on the Theatre Jones website. Georgiou looks at the effect the narcissism of a reality show like “Dance Moms” has on dance education and training. … Theatre Arts major George Meek has accepted a summer carpentry position with the Pacific Conservatory Theatre. Theatre Arts major Hailey Eakle will also work there in the costume department. Austin Brown is completing a season-long apprenticeship with the group as an assistant lighting director. … Two Theatre Arts students will travel and work at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival this summer. Jailene Torres will work as a stitcher and Jorge Lanuza will be a master carpenter. … Student Tiffany Cromwell will be working as the assistant stage manager this summer with Uptown Players. … Theatre Arts major Gatlin Douglas was elected to the USITT Southwest regional board of directors as a student-at-large member. He will be headed to the Santa Fe Opera this summer to work as a stage crew apprentice. … Freshman Vanessa Chavez, a UTA Dance Ensemble company member, won first place April 1 in Mavs Got Talent. … Taylor Adams has accepted a run crew position at PCPA (Pacific Coast Rep). … G. Dean McBride was accepted into the MFA program in arts administration at Texas Tech University.

WOMEN’S STUDIES: On July 25, the Women’s and Gender Studies program will host an all-day STEM workshop for high school girls. This year’s workshop is co-sponsored by Women in Transportation and will center on civil engineering. The keynote speaker is Janeen Uzzell, Global Director of Operations with the General Electric Global Research External Affairs and Technology Programs. The workshop is sponsored by BNSF Railway, American Association of University Women (AAUW), Transportation YOU and the Melting Pot.


Q&A: MFA Student Tackles Social Issues With Art

May 8, 2015


Iranian-born Maryam Rezaei will received her Master’s of Fine Arts degree from the Department of Art & Art History at the College of Liberal Arts’ Spring 2015 Commencement. Over the past three years, she’s included childhood memories and a decade of global experiences into creating “socially conscious” art. Communications Coordinator James Dunning visited with Rezaei to discuss her journey to UT Arlington and the impact of seeing her work in numerous galleries, both physical and virtual.

Q: You came from Shiraz, Iran, an environment where certain types of art aren’t as celebrated as art is in other parts of the world. How did you get your start? What prompted you to become an artist?

A: I started with poems when I was 12 or 13. In Iran we have some avant-garde artists like Forough Farrokhzad. Her poetry was very different than the others at the time. She wrote about freedom, her emotions and women. I think in the Middle East society should give more value to women and give them a more equal situation to men. Women are a big secret — their bodies, their emotions, their lives, their hope. The identity of women is connected to their father or husband.

Q: Did your family encourage you to pursue a career in art?

A: Not so much. I wanted to go to the most top-rated school in the country for an art degree, but during that time it was not common to study art and my family didn’t have a clear idea about it. So I worked on it myself. My father went to a school in California, so in one aspect, he was very different, very open-minded. But he thought I should use my intellect to be a doctor. My mother helped me be prepared for my entrance exam. That was very hard and so competitive in my time.

Q: You attended Shiraz University and spent some time in Tehran before moving on to other parts of the world. What was that experience like?

A: You get a lot of experience living in Tehran. I had a high level of cultural shock. The people there were very focused on materialism and social status through the things you owned. It was a very hard time. I faced a lot of issues. I saw people who grew up in the villages come into the city and experience the same kind of culture shock. In the Middle East countries, the women who live in the villages are more unknown, more inexperienced. So when they move to the cities suddenly there is liberation and taboo and all of these new experiences and challenges.

Q: Which experiences have had the greatest impact on your work?

A: In my poetry, I focused on women and emotion. Farrokhzad’s work is where I really discovered myself and my voice. I was shocked to read what she wrote. I remember bringing one of her books to my father and he sort of shrugged it off and said, “yeah, she’s open-minded.” This sentiment informed me that her work wasn’t bad. I was also inspired as a teenager by American films like “Forrest Gump.” I connected with that story of a less-than-smart person who makes his way through the world with his persistence. I also found inspiration in the translated works of Anthony Robbins. When I was younger, I read as much as I could, sometimes around 200 pages a day. I found a lot of inspiration through that.

Q: What themes do you find yourself returning to as you create?

A: Before I arrived in the U.S., I was sad about my home country and the lack of support from other counties. We have so many problems, but not a lot of outside help. I discovered that Americans are very nice, helpful people, but sometimes they don’t have enough information about what’s going on in the rest of the world. I found myself focusing on distant art and highlighting social issues. One of my first projects focused on women’s issues and an Iranian lake. Some people came up to me after seeing my work and said, “why don’t you talk about the Dallas lake? We’ve got so many problems there.” Well, each lake is different, and in Iran, the lake I focused on serves 8 million people. If it dries up, it will make a major impact.

From there I moved to air pollution, environmental issues and women’s rights in various countries. Some people call me a political artist, but I’m not that. I’m more focused on the environment or freedom or women’s rights message. I’m not against any particular group or country or religion. I want to impact people by the news and experience I have. I’m a socially conscious artist. After enough awareness, society can make the best decisions they need.

Q: You’re one of the few artists at UT Arlington that has embraced virtual space through three-dimensional computer rendering and Oculus Rift technology. A lot of folks working with that software are focusing on gaming, but you created an interactive digital gallery of your work and a first-person experience for visitors. How did that happen?

A; This technology is pretty new, so I attended different workshops, online courses, and researched the technology and in this way I self-taught myself. Also I’m so thankful for my mentor [Department Chair] Robert Hower who directed me during this whole process. Joshua McCollister from game marketing also helped me through motivation and techniques.

Q: What do users see when they enter the digital gallery?

A: As you start through the gallery on the first floor, you see a room full of women in burkas. Burkas are symbolic in Middle Eastern culture; I feel like they rob women of their identity. So this is my comment on that social issue. The gallery opens up as you move up the stairs. The second floor is freedom; the first floor is pain. The second floor has some of my artwork on the walls or as sculpture. These pieces are interactive over time. On the far wall in the corner you see the shamseh, the symbol of the sun. I used this to symbolize the freedom women have but you can only see it half covered with a black veil. Another meaningful object is a window with light dancing beyond. It represents hope, a hope that you can’t reach. It took me about a year to build the main concept, posters on the wall, design the environment and objects.

Q: Now that you are graduating, what’s next?

A: My experience here has been wonderful. I have very strong interest in Oculus Rift and new technologies in art and design, and plan to continue to research this in the future along with human rights. I plan to work and teach in the United States, and I hope for freedom for everyone in the Middle East.



Q&A: POLS’ Gutierrez Ready for ‘What’s Next’

May 6, 2015


This May, Professor Jose Angel Gutierrez (Political Science) will retire after 22 years at UT Arlington. A Chicano activist and community organizer during the Chicano Movement of the 1960s, Gutierrez has organized several state and national groups over the past six decades and has brought a wealth of knowledge and experience into the classroom. Communications Coordinator James Dunning sat down with Gutierrez to discover how much has changed since those early days, and how much is still left undone.

Q: You came to UT Arlington from UT Dallas in 1992. How much have the students changed over the past several decades?

A: The diversity in the classroom has changed a great deal. There’s a huge number of females in the classroom now. They were a minority group when I started. There’s also a large number of international students, which can be challenging, but they study a lot. Sometimes their performance makes the domestic students appear smug, like they don’t have to study. But I like to push the envelope and challenge my students, to push them to greater levels of thinking and concept-building. There is also a lot more racial diversity at UTA these days; more Asian students, more Hispanic students, more black students. I try to cater to them as well and change my orientation to lessons on women, on blacks, on Mexicans in every class I teach.

Q: What was your approach to teaching?

A: I try to make the class exciting for my students. I have a simple philosophy: I don’t think students can’t learn; I think teachers can’t teach. So I work at it, to maintain their attention for 50 minutes or 90 minutes. I’ll do just about anything to keep that attention and help them follow what I’m presenting. Back then, lessons were mostly verbal with some handouts. Now, it’s all PowerPoints and less arguments and discussion. The technology has changed how we present the information. But my approach has been basically the same: keep them engaged through the stories we share.

Whenever we talk about the Chicano civil rights movement and the leaders, I’ll say, “well, I was there, I was involved.” I went to those meetings with black leaders before (Dr. Martin Luther) King was killed. So I can talk with my students about my firsthand knowledge of the issues among those groups. The storytelling can be a very useful learning tool.

Q: You were born in 1944 and lived much of your childhood in Crystal City, Texas, southwest of San Antonio. What was life like during that time?

A: Growing up there was terrible until I realized I could do something about it. I took over the school board, the city council, and the county, created a political party and changed South Texas. The civil rights movement I was involved in was the desegregation of schools in Crystal City. It was Mexican and white. Brown and white, not black and white. I wasn’t able to go to a local college. I had to go to Kingsville, the only four-year school reachable geographically, money-wise, etc. So there were those battles, as well as the battle for political power. I was a part of all that when I first graduated high school and started at community college. When I came back seven years later, I replicated that movement and got involved in all aspects down there.

Q: Bridging an educational gap is part of what prompted you to begin the “Tejano Voices” series in 1996. How did you approach that work and research?

A: I think my main contribution to UTA is a large collection of oral history interviews in the library. There are about 225 interviews, mostly Mexican Americans, a handful of Anglos and about 15 African-Americans. These were public figures in political science. I wanted to know about their paths to power. We talked about their biography, their early childhood and education, their best moments and worst moments. In most of those, I tried to do some quantitative work by looking at the most effective leader, most effective issue, and such. Some of the interviews have been used to make books, and I used several for one book, Chicanas in Charge: Texas Women in the Public Arena (Rowman Altamira, 2007). Oxford Press is interested in a sequel on men and leadership, but I don’t know if I’ll get to it right away.

Educating my students and showcasing the contributions of Mexican Americans is part of the reason I wanted to get all those interviews. But the tragedy is they’re all on VHS tapes and the library hasn’t digitized them yet. So most students don’t know they’re there. They can look at the transcripts and hear the recordings, but they miss the visual that comes with listening to the audio and seeing the personalities come across the screen.

Q: Was elevating that group a central reason for organizing the Center for Mexican American Studies in 1994?

A: We wanted students to be able to study the history and heritage and contribution of people of Mexican ancestry. We can’t continue to vilify them as they do in the textbooks. Every kid sees a paragraph on the Alamo, and if you’re Mexican, you say, “I don’t want to be associated with them.” It makes them feel bad and leaves them defenseless. I think we deserve more than a paragraph and need a more balanced, nuanced perspective. That’s why I did the oral histories — to show the world what contributions have been made.

Q: In addition to teaching, you have a law degree and have spent time as a county judge and an executive in various state agencies. What will you do in retirement?

A: I’m not sure. I’m thinking about returning to lawyering and working with my law office. I may work on another book. I’m retiring from teaching but I don’t know what’s next.





Artist Uses FabLab to Create New Work

May 6, 2015


3D printers and laser cutters aren’t just for engineers any more.

With easy access to these tools and more, students from across campus are using the UTA FabLab to help make their vision reality.

Morgan Chivers, Department of Art & Art History instructor and graduate student, uses FabLab tools to create complex molds for his glass sculptures starting with a 3D-printed prototype.

The process had a learning curve. He first had to learn the software used to create 3D models, then how to print out that design on a 3D printer, how to make the printed mold watertight, and finally how to use the mold to shape the final glass piece. Fortunately, FabLab staff were ready to help. “The staff and the student workers here are very knowledgeable,” he said.

Chivers’ molds can sometimes take a long time to print depending on how intricate they are, but he sees this as a positive.

“The FabLab being in the Central Library allows for a lot of interdepartmental collaboration,” he said. “Some 3D models may take upwards of three hours to print out and, in that time, you can have a conversation with the engineering student working next to you.”

To see Chivers’ work, visit the UT Arlington Library YouTube channel.

To create your own project, visit the UTA FabLab on the first floor of Central Library.


(SOURCE: Joshua Mitchell/UTA Libraries)


UTA Students Help Parents Connect with Children

April 28, 2015

modl_eldia2014For the past several months, faculty and students from the Department of Modern Languages have been helping Arlington parents connect with their children.

Graduate and undergraduate students have volunteered with the Arlington Public Library’s program “Stories to Our Children.” Through a variety of assignments and roles, the UT Arlington group spent time this semester at Arlington ISD schools, assisting parents in the development and production of original children’s books.

“This program is based on the conviction that the sharing of stories between parents and their children creates a lasting bond between the generations, and promotes an invaluable appreciation and commitment to literacy,” said Associate Professor Christopher Conway (Modern Languages). “Through this program, underserved mothers and fathers are empowered to write, refine and illustrate their life stories for their children.”

Associate Professor Alicia Rueda-Acedo (Modern Languages) said department collaboration with the Arlington libraries on previous events led to establishing internships and service-learning opportunities for Modern Languages majors through the “Stories” program. Several department faculty members such as Amy Austin, Sonia Kania and Ignacio Ruiz-Pérez encouraged and mentored their students to participate.

“I discovered the opportunity to be involved with the Arlington Public Library through one of my classes,” said senior Spanish major Maria Ipina. “I was intrigued by it because of the focus on schoolchildren and allowing parents the chance to share their stories. My grandparents and my mom always had great stories. This is a good idea to write them down and not lose them.”

Ipina and her colleagues worked with parents one-on-one, coaching, editing and proofreading the stories. Native speakers of Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese and Vietnamese all participated in the project. The stories were produced into books, then added as a special collection for the Arlington libraries.

Senior Spanish major Maria Schrimpf found the project inspiring.

“You realize how much some people have gone through,” she said. “You can find a little bit of everything in the stories. I encourage them to write something positive. I tell them, ‘Your children and someone else will be reading. Write something that will inspire others.’”

Senior history major Concepcion Camargo, who is minoring in Mexican American Studies, worked with parents at her alma mater, Berry Elementary. The Arlington native said the experience changed her perspective on the importance of literacy and storytelling among schoolchildren.

“The program is about families telling stories to their kids,” Camargo said. “It gives the parents an opportunity to be their child’s first teacher, and allows the children to relate to the stories they are hearing. If they read a book and can relate to the story, then they may realize there are other books to read, too.”

Organizers hope this impact will not only increase literacy rates but also solidify cultural connections for first-generation Americans.

“While the intention of the program is related to literacy, it’s very important for the children to see how much effort and beauty and interest a parent who can hardly read or write is putting into writing a story,” said Rueda-Acedo. “It’s beautiful to have a book that your mother or dad wrote for you. These stories are part of the library and part of the community.”

Ipina noted the stories also reinforce better comprehension and learning of native languages among younger generations.

“I noticed a lot of the [Spanish-speaking] parents used Spanglish [a mix of Spanish and English words],” she said. “The kids hear it so often that now they speak that. The stories serve to remind us the need for the pure form of Spanish. You lose culture when you lose the language.”

Rueda-Acedo said students in a Spanish translation fall course will be working with the “Stories” books and translating them into English – an effort to make those stories available to a wider audience. These will also be part of the library’s collection.

UT Arlington and Arlington Public Library will host “El Dia e los ninos” from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, May 2, at the Mavericks Activities Center. Volunteers – including Modern Languages students and members of the English Language Institute – will be on hand to man activity stations and host nearly 300 children.



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