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2023 Faculty Awards Honor Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship, and Service


By Hayden Bergman

For years now, the UHD Faculty Senate has annually bestowed several honors on deserving educators . On April 18, the 2023 Faculty Awards ceremony continued that tradition, as several UHD faculty members were fêted for their contributions in teaching, research, and service. 

UHD Faculty Senate President-Elect Dr. Bernardo Gohl served as host with special guest President Loren J. Blanchard. Read below to see this year’s nominees and winners (as provided by the Office of the UHD Faculty Senate; winners noted in bold). 

 Outstanding Lecturer 

  • Sam Sen, Natural Sciences  
  • Dr. Zeenat Mitha, Arts & Communication  
  • Dr. Sanghamitra Saha, Natural Sciences  

Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activity 

  • Dr. Song Ge, Nursing  
  • Dr. Michael Duncan, English  
  • Dr. Steve Zhou, General Business, Marketing, & Supply Chain 

Excellence in Service 

  • Dr. Jonathan Chism, History, Humanities & Languages  
  • Dietrich von Biedenfeld, General Business, Marketing & Supply Chain 

Excellence in Teaching 

  • Dr. Krista Gehring, Criminal Justice  
  • Dr. Godwin Agboka, English   
  • Dr. Ling Xu, Computer Science & Engineering Technology 

Distinguished Faculty Award 

  • Dr. Ronald Beebe, Professor of Education  
  • Dr. Windy Lawrence, Professor of Communication Studies   

University-Funded Faculty Leave Award 

  • Dr. Jonathan Chism, Assistant Professor of African American Studies 
  • Dr. Laura Cesarco Eglin, Assistant Professor of English  
  • Dr. Katharine Jager, Professor of English  
  • Dr. Peter Li, Associate Professor of Political Science  
  • Dr. Claude Rubinson, Associate Professor of Sociology 

Faculty Development Projects Awards 

  • Dr. Stephanie Babb, Associate Professor of Psychology 
  • Dr. Amy Baird, Professor of Biology 
  • Dr. Anita Chadha, Associate Professor of Political Science 
  • Dr. Vaishali Chaubal, Lecturer of Biology  
  • Dr. Pablo Delclos, Assistant Professor of Biology 
  • Dr. Song Ge, Assistant Professor of Nursing  
  • Dr. Aaron Gillette, Professor of History 
  • Dr. Elizabeth Gilmore, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice  
  • Dr. Mahmud Hasan, Assistant Professor of Safety Management  
  • Dr. Liza Lane, Assistant Professor of Social Work  
  • Dr. Natalia Matveeva, Professor of Communication Studies 
  • Dr. Meghan Minard, Lecturer of Biology  
  • Dr. Sanghamitra Saha, Lecturer of Biology  
  • Dr. Shahnaz Savani, Assistant Professor of Social Work 
  • Dr. Ashwini Tiwari, Associate Professor of Education  
  • Dr. Michael Tobin, Associate Professor of Biology  
  • Dr. Eszter Trufan, Associate Professor of Chemistry  
  • Dr. Vassilios Tzouanas, Professor of Computer Science & Engineering Technology 
  • Dr. Yingchun Wang, Associate Professor of Management  

Recognition of Faculty Years of Service Awards 

20 Years  

  • Professor Syed Aftab Ali, Lecturer, Finance & Management Info Systems 
  • Dr. Joanna Kaftan, Associate Professor, Social Sciences 
  • Professor Tara C. Nuwal, Lecturer, Applied Administration 
  • Dr. Andrew Pavelich, Professor, History, Humanities & Languages 
  • Dr. Lee Usnick, Professor, General Business, Marketing & Supply Chain 

25 Years  

  • Dr. Irene Linlin Chen, Professor, Urban Education 
  • Dr. Charles Jackson, Professor, English 
  • Dr. Chynette Nealy, Professor, General Business, Marketing & Supply Chain 

30 Years  

  • Dr. Leena Kumar, Professor, Social Sciences 

35 Years 

  • Professor Mitsue Nakamura, Lecturer, Mathematics & Statistics 
  • Dr. Elizabeth Pelz, Associate Professor, Criminal Justice 
  • Dr. Marvin Williams, Professor, Accounting & International Business 

Congratulations to the winners! During his remarks, Blanchard noted that there is “a very strong parallel between faculty excellence and student success” and that the teaching, service, and scholarly efforts of UHD faculty continue to provide value to students and the local community. Huzzah! 

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.