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Inaugural Fall Faculty Retreat Paves the Way for UHD's 2021-22 Academic Year

The University of Houston-Downtown faculty are invited to attend the first annual Fall Faculty Retreat, taking place Tuesday, August 17 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. in a virtual format. It has long been a tradition within the academy for faculty to gather and address a topic that is central to their respective Universities’ goals and missions, and this event will address the themes of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. Faculty who have not registered yet can still do so. 

During this daylong session, President Loren J. Blanchard and Interim Provost Dr. Akif Uzman will share insights regarding topics affecting higher education as well as issues relevant to academia. The day will also include a keynote panel of noted industry experts, a student panel and breakout sessions before reuniting for final updates and reports. 

Keynote panelists include Ms. Deborah Santiago, Dr. James T. Minor and Dr. Erica Henderson.

Deborah A. Santiago is the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Excelencia in Education, America's premier authority on efforts accelerating Latino student success in higher education. As an innovator, thought leader, and educational visionary, she has researched and identified evidence-based practices and strategies for more than 20 years at national levels to improve educational opportunities and success to better serve students, especially Latinos, in higher education.

James T. Minor, Ph.D., is the Senior Strategist for Academic Success and Inclusive Excellence at California State University. A national expert in expanding access to higher education and addressing student achievement gaps, Minor provides leadership and strategy to advance graduation targets focused on increasing the completion rates of first-time freshmen, transfer, low income and underserved students. He has also served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Erica Henderson, Ph.D., is the Associate Provost for Faculty Recruitment, Retention, Equity, and Diversity at the University of Houston. She possesses more than 25 years of experience leading organizational efforts to recruit, develop, and retain the best and brightest talent in the higher education and federal government sectors. She previously served as Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Assistant Secretary for the Employment and Training Administration.

A student panel will provide a different perspective for more insight. Guests include Maria Sanchez, a Psychology major and Criminal Justice minor; Drejoin Ellington, a graduate student in UHD’s Criminal Justice Program who previously earned his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University; Shamika Jefferson, a second-year MBA student focusing on Accounting and Project Management and President of the Student Government Association and National Association of Black Accountants; and Bryce Calabaza, an English major and a student in UHD’s Honors Program.

"I am confident that these speakers, as well as the content presented in the breakout sessions will impart wisdom that we will carry with us through the coming academic year and beyond," said President Blanchard.

Additional details on the event's agenda and speakers are available online.