Antonio D. Tillis Named New Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and M. D. Anderson Professor in Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston

Photo Courtesy of the University of Houston

Photo Courtesy of the University of Houston

Provost Paula Myrick Short and the University of Houston are proud to welcome Dr. Antonio D. Tillis as the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and M.D. Anderson Professor in Hispanic Studies.

Home to 14 schools and departments, the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) is the largest and most diverse of the 14 academic colleges at the University of Houston.

Undergraduate and graduate majors cover the full range of the human experience – from anthropology to human space exploration sciences. The College also offers social and cultural analysis in African American, Mexican American, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality, and other interdisciplinary studies program.

CLASS extends its scholarship to the University, the city of Houston, and the nation through its policy, research, and cultural centers, which include the Hobby Center for Public Policy, the Center for Immigration Research, and the University Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic.

With over 500 faculty members, CLASS educates nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students, preparing them for future studies and professional achievements.

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, he served as dean of the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs at the College of Charleston. Prior to his appointment, he was a distinguished international visiting scholar at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica and has developed relationships with numerous universities in Brazil, Columbia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, France, Peru, Trinidad, Jamaica, England, Costa Rica, Ghana, China, and Gabon.

Dr. Tillis brings an international and national reputation as an acclaimed scholar and author with specializations in Latin American, Afro-Latin American and African Diaspora literatures to CLASS.

Dr. Tillis holds a B.S. from Vanderbilt University, an M.A. in Spanish Literature from Howard University, and a Ph.D. in Latin American Literature with an Afro-Hispanic emphasis from the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Dr. Tillis started his new role on Feb.1.

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Berkeley Police Prep for Clash with or without Coulter Visit

By JOCELYN GECKER, Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Ann Coulter said Wednesday that she was forced to cancel her speaking event Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley amid concerns of violence but might still "swing by to say hello" to all her supporters.

Police and university officials said they were bracing for possible trouble whether Coulter comes to campus or not, citing intelligence and online chatter by groups threatening to instigate violence.

In emails to The Associated Press, Coulter confirmed Wednesday that her planned speech on illegal immigration, followed by a question-answer session, was canceled. But she remained coy about what she might do instead.

"I'm not speaking. But I'm going to be near there, so I might swing by to say hello to my supporters who have flown in from all around the country," Coulter said in an email. "I thought I might stroll around the graveyard of the First Amendment."

Officials at UC Berkeley said last week they feared renewed violence on campus if Coulter followed through with plans to speak. They cited "very specific intelligence" of threats that could endanger Coulter and students, as Berkeley becomes a platform for extremist protesters on both sides of the political spectrum.

Efforts by the university to cancel or delay the event dealt a blow to Berkeley's image as a bastion of tolerance and free speech.

Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks sent a letter to the campus Wednesday saying the university is committed to defending free speech but also to protecting its students.

"This is a university, not a battlefield," Dirks said in the letter. "The university has two non-negotiable commitments, one to Free Speech the other to the safety of our campus community."

Berkeley's reputation as one of the country's most liberal universities, in one of America's most liberal cities, has made it a flashpoint for the nation's political divisions in the era of Donald Trump.

Earlier this month, a bloody brawl broke out in downtown Berkeley at a pro-Trump protest that featured speeches by members of the white nationalist right. They clashed with a group of Trump critics who called themselves anti-fascists.

Similar violent clashes also erupted at the same site, a public park, on March 4.

In February, violent protesters forced the cancellation of a speech by right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos, who like Coulter was invited by campus Republicans.

The Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America's Foundation, a conservative group that had helped book Coulter's campus speaking events, both pulled their support Tuesday citing fears of violence. They blamed the university for failing to ensure protection of conservative speakers.

"Berkeley College Republicans do not want to endanger people's lives so because of the university's unwillingness to do their job we are forced to cancel the event," Troy Worden, president of the campus Republicans, said Wednesday.

Coulter echoed the blame on Twitter: "I'm very sad about Berkeley's cancellation, but my sadness is greater than that. It's a dark day for free speech in America."

Capt. Alex Yao of the Berkley campus police force said police presence will be strong Thursday.

"You will see a high number of highly visible law enforcement. We're going to have a very, very low tolerance for any violence," he told a news conference. He said Berkeley police had reached out to local and state police forces "to let them know we might be calling for assistance."

Latina Activists Featured in New Spoken-Word Exhibit

The oral histories of nine Latina community activists, including Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Michele Martinez, a CSUF graduate, are featured in “Voces de Liberación: Latinas and Politics in Southern California,” a graduate-student-curated exhibit in Cal State Fullerton’s Pollak Library April 27 through June 21.

From left, Antonia Hernandez, Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Michele Martinez and Helen Torres are among nine women featured in “Voces de Liberación: Latinas and Politics in Southern California,” an oral history exhibit at CSUF's Pollak Library through June.

From left, Antonia Hernandez, Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Michele Martinez and Helen Torres are among nine women featured in “Voces de Liberación: Latinas and Politics in Southern California,” an oral history exhibit at CSUF's Pollak Library through June.

An opening reception in the campus Quad at 5:30 p.mWednesday, April 26, will include an oral history performance followed by a special viewing of the exhibit in the Salz-Pollak Atrium Gallery at 6:30 p.m.

Eight of the nine women profiled in the exhibit are scheduled to attend. The exhibition features: Theresa Smith of the Law Enforcement Accountability Network (LEAN); America Bracho of Latino Health Access; Rose Espinoza of Rosie’s Garage; Antonia Hernández, executive director of the California Community Foundation; Nury Martinez, a Los Angeles city councilwoman; Helen Torres, director of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality; Ada Briceño, labor union leader and founder of Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD); Martinez (B.A. criminal justice ‘09) of the Santa Ana City Council; and Angelica Salas, executive director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

History major Jael Müller, a grad student curated the collection from the Lawrence de Graaf Center for Oral and Public History’s “Women, Politics and Activism Project,” led by Natalie Fousekis, professor of history and center director. Graduate students studying history installed the exhibition and developed its programming while supervised by Margie Brown-Coronel, assistant professor of history.

Visitors to the exhibit, sponsored by the center and the CSUF Department of History, can hear the oral histories on iPods or on their own mobile devices, using the SoundCloud application. The exhibition’s audio tour is available here.  

Among the voices is that of Smith of Placentia. She shares her thoughts on her role as an activist — a role she took on after her son, Caesar Cruz, was shot 15 times in the back while he sat in his car unarmed and still buckled into the seat belt. Her son had been racially profiled as a gang member because of his race, his bald head, his tattoos, she said. Her activism resulted in the proposal and passage of Assembly Bill 953, known as the Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015. The act requires California law enforcement agencies to report detailed information about each stop, including the perceived race, ethnicity and gender and a reason for the stop.

“The work of a community activist is not easy. It’s not easy at all,” says Smith. “An activist doesn’t get paid for this. They do it all on their own time, but, in the end, and especially when you see some results finally come to fruition, that, in itself, is the greatest reward or award you could get … to see that you’ve been a part of a change for the better. I do this, like I said, for my son. I do it for his sons, for my grandsons, for the future of all of our sons and daughters and because, in activism, there is no gender, race, religion. We’re all one human race.”

Funding for the exhibit was provided by the CSUF College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Associated Students Inc. and the university. Funding for the oral histories was provided by the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.

Additional information is available online from the Lawrence de Graaf Center for Oral and Public History.

The exhibit is open Monday-Sunday during library hours, which are posted online.