Six University of Houston-Downtown faculty members are being recognized for their exemplary service to the University and community. On May 24, the UH System Board of Regents conferred emeritus status to retired faculty who have made significant contributions to the institution through scholarship, teaching and service. Although retired, these faculty emeriti remain distinguished members of the UHD community, who will support the institution and its mission.
New UHD faculty emeriti are as follows:
Dr. Nancy Leveille , College of Sciences & Technology – Dr. Leveille joined the UHD in 1983 and served as lecturer until 2006 when she became an assistant professor, and was promoted to associate professor in 2012. During her nearly 30 years of service at UHD, the scope of her teaching extended from remedial freshman mathematics courses to directing senior projects. Her research and scholarships includes grants and over 20 publications. Her service to her departmental curriculum committee involved establishing a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics with an Urban Education concentration.
Dr. Chris Birchak, University College and College of Humanities & Social Sciences – Dr. Birchak’s career embodies the values of the University’s mission. She joined UHD in 1985 as a visiting assistant professor. In 1987, she joined the tenure track as an assistant professor. She was promoted to associate professor in 1992 and to professor in 2001. Beyond her role as a faculty member, she has served as dean of University College since 2003. In her 30 years of service to UHD, Birchak has amassed a record that is both excellent and distinctive. She is not only a teacher, but also an innovator; she pioneered multidisciplinary collaborations to design electronic classrooms and online teaching at UHD. To fund student success initiatives, she has successfully secured grants totaling more than $3 million.
Dr. Merrilee Cunningham, College of Humanities and Social Sciences – Dr. Cunningham taught a wide range of courses from freshman to graduate. In addition, she taught at the Jesse Jones and Ketelsen Institutes; Houston’s Lifelong Learning Center; the Houston Teacher’s Institute; and the University of Houston Honors College. This dedication to teaching made her twice a winner of the UHD Excellence in Teaching Award in 1981 and in 1990. In recent years, she made a significant contribution to the design and implementation of the UHD’s Honors Program, as well as UHD’s award winning Model UN program. Among students, she has become a legend teaching Shakespeare, which she says she taught the same way at UHD as she did at Yale University. Cunningham has published articles and poetic works with a research focused in British Literature, and later in her career on the impact of technology on pedagogy.
Dr. Hank Roubicek, College of Humanities & Social Sciences – Dr. Roubicek joined UHD in 1983. During the past 35 years, he has an established reputation as an excellent teacher. He won the UHD Excellence in Teaching Awards twice, first in 1986 and in 2017. Roubicek served as the coordinator of the Arts and Humanities department’s speech and communication program for eight years and was instrumental in developing the Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. Roubicek has remained an active scholar of communication by publishing textbooks in professional speech communications, as well as presenting at more than 40 conferences. In 2018, he launched UHD’s online radio station, UHD iradio.
Dr. Deborah Shelley, College of Humanities & Social Sciences – Dr. Shelley joined UHD in 1992 and reached the rank of Associate Professor in 1999. She helped build the College of Humanities & Social Sciences’ Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, which is now among the most successful programs in the College. Shelley deserves recognition for her many years of service to communication studies in the department of Arts and Humanities. She was the departmental assistant chair as well as communications coordinator for a remarkable 18 years. Shelley remained an active scholar, having published book chapters for Cambridge Scholars’ Press and Lawrence Erlbaum, and presenting frequently at the National Communication Association conferences.
Dr. Carolyn Ashe, Marilyn Davies College of Business – Dr. Ashe joined UHD in 1991 as an Assistant Professor of Management, Marketing and Business Administration. She is an expert in the area of business ethics and has designed and taught ethics courses that reflect the needs of the various disciplines in the Davies College of Business. Ashe has published 23 journal articles since joining the University of Houston-Downtown with three in the last two years. She has 35 refereed proceedings and made numerous other intellectual contributions, including 58 professional presentations. Ashe’s service has been outstanding, serving on search committees for both the President and Provost. She was president of the Faculty Senate in 2017. In recognition of her service, she won the Excellence in Service Award in 2014.