UHD Student History Society Named Chapter of the Year
On Saturday, March 5, the University of Houston-Downtown's Garna Christian Chapter of the Walter P. Webb Historical Society received the 2015 University Chapter of the Year Award. The award ceremony took place during the annual meeting of the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving, Texas.
The chapter's president, Francisco Delgado, accepted the award with members Aimee Soto, Helen Martinez, and Juan Leija also present. Chapter advisors Dr. Gene Preuss and Dr. Mari Nicholson-Preuss accompanied the Webb Society members on the trip.
"The University Chapter of the Year award is recognition for all the hard work the students have been doing, in their classes and in the community," said Dr. Gene Preuss. "Our student members recognize that history is all around them; it's not just stories about people they don't know. Webb Historical Society students have an interest in local and regional history. Many are honors students, and they are some of the best, most-motivated students on campus. and by having them attend a state-wide professional conference and be recognized for their work is quite an impressive accomplishment."
Delgado said, "It was a surprise to win the award. We know we had been doing a lot of activities, and our members participate in community service and activities with Phi Alpha Theta (the History Honors Society), and other groups like LULAC and the Northside History Project, but other chapters are very active, too. It's pretty competitive, because some of the other chapters do quite a bit, so it's very nice to be recognized for our work. I hope that we will continue to attract more hard-working members. I'm proud the chapter was named for Dr. Christian, too, because he's inspired so much interest in Texas history. He was my professor, and I know he'll be proud of the award."
The students and sponsors attended a variety of research presentations by professional historians and participated in TSHA meetings throughout the three-day event. On Thursday night, students attended a special reception at the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History and Culture, where they met Stephen C. Cook of Houston's Fieldstone Partners, the incoming president of the TSHA. The following day, the students attended the Webb Historical Society Annual Meeting along with chapters from universities and colleges across the state.
"Like many other chapters across the state, UHD's Webb Society draws a large number of its members from the Honors Program," Dr. Mari Nicholson-Preuss said. "The Webb Society helps contribute to the University Honors Program's mission of engaging students through innovative co-curricular activities. It's really great to see the students excited to learn about Texas history."
Delgado made a presentation on the UHD chapter activities during this meeting moderated by Dr. Ken Howell of Blinn College. On Saturday at the "History in Action: The College Classroom in 2016" session, TSHA Chief Operating Officer Stephen Cure, along with Adult Programs Manager Charles Nugent, presented the UHD chapter with the University Chapter of the Year award. Last year's chapter president Annabella Gutierrez, a UHD alumna in the public history graduate program at Stephen F. Austin State University, attended the presentation and helped her friends celebrate the award.
Among the other sessions the UHD delegation attended included the session "What Does It Mean to Be Texan?" where Dr. Gene Preuss presented, "The Path from the Mina School: Civil Rights and Personal History," based on a chapter he contributed to an upcoming book, Texan Identities, that will be published this fall by University of North Texas Press. Students also attended the TSHA's Fellows Luncheon and Presentation of Awards where they enjoyed a presentation by Prairie View A&M President, Dr. George Wright.
The students attended the conference with travel funds from the Elkins Foundation Legacy Trust for the Teaching of Texas History and the TSHA.
In 2015, the UHD Webb Historical Society became the Garna Christian Chapter of the Webb Historical Society, in order to commemorate and honor Dr. Christian for more than 50 years of service in teaching Texas history. Dr. Christian started the UHD Webb chapter 1975, making it the second-oldest chapter in the state. He was elected a Fellow of the TSHA in 2004, and in 2012 was awarded the prestigious Mary Jon and J. P. Bryan Leadership in Education Award. Since its founding at UHD, the Webb Historical Society has participated in a variety of historical projects, including applying for Texas Historical Commission in various locations, travel to historic sites, and collaboration with other organizations and community partners. The current faculty advisors are Dr. Jose Alvarez, Dr. Gene Preuss, and Dr. Mari Nicholson-Preuss.
The Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society, founded in 1973, is an educational outreach program of the Texas State Historical Association. The Webb Society promotes community, local, and regional history through its chapters in participating college and university history programs. It "encourages students to discover, research, write, and publish the history of Texas as they find it where they live."
The Texas State Historical Association, founded in 1897, is the state's oldest learned society. Its mission is to "foster the appreciation, understanding, and teaching of the rich and unique history of Texas and, by example and through programs and activities, encourage and promote research, preservation, and publication of historical material affecting the state of Texas."