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UHD Presidential Search Narrows to 4 Candidates

Friday, May 01, 2009 / Sue Davis

The search for a new president for the University of Houston-Downtown has narrowed to four candidates who will visit campus in the next few weeks for two-day, on-site interviews that will include sessions with faculty, staff, students and other constituency groups, said William A. Staples, president of UH-Clear Lake and chair of the UHD Presidential Search Advisory Committee.

Finalists are:

· William V. Flores, deputy secretary of the New Mexico Higher Education Department, who will visit campus, Thursday and Friday, May 7 and 8;

· Robert D. Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk, Houston, who will visit campus Monday and Tuesday, May 11 and 12; and

· Jeffrey D. Senese, vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of faculty at Philadelphia University, who will visit campus Wednesday and Thursday, May 13 and 14.

· Howard C. Johnson, interim vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Chicago State University, who will visit campus Thursday and Friday, May 14 & 15.

Candidates will particpate in an open forum at 3:15 p.m. in the Cullen Robertson Auditorium in UHD's Academic Building during the second day of their visit.

”As chair of the UHD Presidential Search Advisory Committee, I encourage the faculty, staff and students of UHD to make a special effort to attend the sessions with the candidates who will come to campus during the next two weeks,” Staples said. “Everyone’s involvement and input will be very important to the presidential search process and the future of the institution.”

UHD’s President Max Castillo announced last fall that he would step down on July 31 after serving 17 years in the position. He holds one of the longest tenures among public university presidents in Texas.

Staples also thanked the search advisory committee for its work. “I greatly appreciate the commitment and hard work of the members of the presidential search advisory committee who have represented the faculty, staff, students, administration and community by their presence and active involvement since the process began,” Staples said.

UH System Chancellor Renu Khator appointed the search advisory committee on Dec. 12. She will recommend a finalist to the UHS Board of Regents.

Candidate Profiles:

William V. Flores

Flores serves as deputy secretary of higher education for the New Mexico Higher Education Department, a position he has held since Gov. Bill Richardson appointed him two years ago. The department oversees all public and private post-secondary higher education institutions in the state. Flores served as interim president and provost at New Mexico State University, a land-grant institution, from August 2003 to July 2004. He served as executive vice president and provost there from 2001 to 2007. While serving as interim president, he achieved the highest student enrollment and most funds raised for any 12-month period up to that time in the institution’s history. His achievements there also include increasing the number of endowed professorships, increasing international enrollment and international linkages and introducing a new logo as part of a branding campaign.

From 1996 to 2001, Flores was the dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science at California State University, Northridge where, as the dean of the institution’s largest college, he oversaw post-earthquake reconstruction of college buildings and initiated the college’s strategic plan focusing on urban problems. From 1994 to 1996, Flores served as associate dean of the School of Social Sciences at California State University, Fresno. From 1989 to 1993, he chaired the Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies there. His career has also included work at Stanford University, De Anza College, Santa Clara University, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Flores earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University (1987), a Certificate of Proficiency at the Instituto de Cultura y Lengua in Cuernavaca, Mexico (1974), a master’s of arts degree in political science from Stanford University (1971) and a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA (1970.)

Robert D. Sanborn

Sanborn is the president and CEO of Children at Risk, a non-profit, research-based public policy think tank and advocacy group, a position he has held since 2005. The organization focuses on issues such as human trafficking, juvenile justice, children’s health and children in poverty. While heading the organization, he has successfully worked to pass legislation related to children, built successful fundraising partnerships, launched a new public policy and law center and created visibility for the organization through media partnerships.

He has taught at UHD as a lecturer since 2007.

Sanborn’s experience in higher education includes serving as vice president for Enrollment and Student Services at the University of Tulsa from 1999 to 2000 where he oversaw the creation of a new orientation program, created new links between academic and student sides of the institution and served on the political science faculty. For three years (1996-1999), he was the dean of Student Affairs at Hampshire College (Amherst, Mass.). He was associate dean for Student Affairs at Rice University from 1988 to 1996. From 1986 to 1988, he served as associate director of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York City.

Other experience includes serving as executive director and CEO of the Education Foundation of Harris County from 2002 to 2005, and as founding executive director of the Trinity Hospice Foundation in Tulsa, Okla. From 2000 to 2002.

He holds a doctor of education degree in international education development from Columbia University (1990), a master’s degree in education from Northern Illinois University (1985) and a bachelor’s degree in government/political science from Florida State University (1980)

Sanborn grew up in Puerto Rico and speaks Spanish fluently.

Jeffrey D. Senese

Senese is the vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of Faculty at Philadelphia University and has worked in diverse urban environments in Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Since arriving at Philadelphia University in 2005, he has led the university as it added three graduate programs as they were approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and expanded undergraduate programs. Philadelphia University received a $1.2 million grant to create an advanced textiles research and innovation center last year under his leadership.

From 2001 to 2005, Senese was the vice president for Academic Affairs at Mount Ida College (Newton Centre, Mass.) For two years before that, he led academic affairs at Penn State University Wilkes-Barre as the chief academic officer and director of Academic Affairs. At the University of Baltimore (1990 to 1999), Senese held a variety of increasingly responsible positions. He served as associate dean in the Yale Gordon College of Liberal Arts from 1996 to 1999, as associate professor and division chairperson from 1995 to 1996, and as an assistant professor from 1990 to 1995. He was an assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University South Bend from 1988 to 1990 and worked briefly as an instructor of criminal justice at Montcalm Community College in Sidney, Mich.

Senese holds a Ph.D. in multidisciplinary social science from Michigan State University (1992), a master of arts degree in criminology from Indiana State University (1988) and a bachelor of science degree in administration of justice from The Pennsylvania State University (1982).

Howard C. Johnson

Johnson is the interim vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Chicago State University. He came to Chicago State in 2008. Johnson led the academic components at the University of North Texas as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs from 2003 to 2007. During that time, he also served as interim vice president for Research and Technology Transfer (2005 -2006.) In that role, he hired significant academic leaders, completed a strategic academic plan and supported multidisciplinary cooperation throughout the university. He also oversaw the vice provost of the UNT Dallas campus. Under his leadership, UNT developed a University-wide Honors College, built an Honors residence hall and developed residential learning communities. The University also established a Hispanic and Global Studies Initiatives Fund and a Center for Spanish Language Media.

For 30 years, from 1973 to 2003, Johnson rose through the ranks at Syracuse University. He was the executive vice provost for Academic Affairs from 2002 to 2003 and served as the dean of the Graduate School from 1995 to 2001. Other positions he held at Syracuse include interim dean of the Graduate School (1994-1995), associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs (1989–2001) and chair of the mathematics education department (1982-2000). He was promoted to professor there in 1987.

Johnson earned a Ph.D. in mathematics education from Northwestern University, dual master’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Illinois and Chicago State University, and a bachelor of science degree in mathematics education from Chicago State University.

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