$135K Gift Designated for Co-Curricular Student Success
University of Houston Libraries has received an anonymous gift of $135,000 to support the expansion of co-curricular student success.
UH students comprise a diverse population representing various backgrounds and needs, including and not limited to first-generation, international, and transfer students. UH Libraries’ Teaching and Learning team facilitates the academic success of all UH students through highly-engaged experiences beyond the classroom known as co-curricular teaching. The generous gift enables UH Libraries to scale efforts through a program dedicated to the significant University goal of providing a top tier, inclusive educational experience to all.
Teaching and Learning librarians work within and beyond the traditional UH classroom, empowering all students to discover that which matters most to them and to value the pursuit of lifelong learning. Librarians play a unique role in bringing learners together outside of the classroom structure; there is no grading, only curiosity and creativity in a supportive environment. Co-curricular teaching efforts are focused on the learning ecosystem that complements formal curricula where students can apply what they discover to make meaningful contributions to the University and the greater community.
“This influential gift allows us to advance student success at UH in direct ways,” said Athena Jackson, dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair. “Through the provision of resources, services, and partnerships that lead to enriched learning and knowledge-sharing, our librarians are creating a holistic academic experience at the heart of the University which will have a beneficial and substantive impact on all UH students.”
GCSW Faculty Support Student Success Via ATIP
Ginger Lucas, LMSW, clinical associate professor and director of online and hybrid programs at University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW), is part of the cohort of UH faculty promoting student success by facilitating free and immediate access to course materials. Lucas, in collaboration with additional instructors, received an award from the UH Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP) to create open educational resources (OER) for SOCW 6306: Social Work Practice Skills and SOCW 6308: Human Diversity and Development.
Now in its fifth award cycle, ATIP has improved access to affordable education for over 11,000 UH students by supporting faculty who adopt, modify, or create OER to replace a commercial textbook in their courses. This includes the adoption of existing no-cost resources; modification/adaptation of existing OER; or creation of OER, particularly open learning materials such as lecture slides, test banks, quizzes, lesson plans, or videos.
Since its launch in 2018, ATIP has helped achieve approximately $1.4 million in textbook cost savings.
The process for adopting the alternative textbook for Human Diversity and Development was “reasonably easy,” said Lucas. “I found a current, open-access textbook that I knew could be the backbone of the course. I knew I would want to supplement that textbook with other open-access resources to provide diverse approaches to the material.”
The alternative textbook for SOCW 6306, a course for which Lucas and Shelley Gonzalez, assistant director of field education and assistant clinical faculty, were awarded an ATIP incentive, was adopted beginning in 2020 and has benefited 172 students, with estimated savings of $30,091 in one year. For the Human Diversity and Development OER, implemented in 2022, 144 students have been impacted with estimated savings of $28,792 in one year.
Cost reduction is just one of the many benefits students enjoy with the implementation of OER. Students’ assessment of the utility and quality of alternative textbooks in social work courses are positive. They are reporting a wider range of voices and high relevance to current practice in OER material, with greater accessibility and ease of use over traditional textbooks. OER tend to remain applicable even after the course is completed. “Students can take with them and reference [OER] once they are practicing social workers,” Lucas noted. “They appreciate materials that are accessible on the go. I integrated videos and podcasts that they could listen to during their commute.”
Lucas cites several reasons for choosing to adopt an alternative textbook, not the least of which is removing financial barriers to academic success. “Integrating a variety of open-access learning materials such as videos, journal articles, and textbooks increases the accessibility of the course content, and allows us to be creative in the sources we choose to teach the content to different learning styles,” she said. “It helps our curriculum stay current, addressing the most recent trends in social work practice. In addition, incorporating OER allow us to provide diverse perspectives, encouraging critical thinking.”
While selecting and evaluating material took time, Lucas found support from colleagues. “Once you begin looking for alternatives to textbooks, you will find many resources, and it helps to collaborate with other faculty to make final decisions,” she said.
For instructors who are considering OER, Lucas encourages them to reach out to the UH Libraries department of Open Education Services. “The librarians, especially Ariana Santiago, are so helpful and always available to answer questions and provide support when integrating new course materials,” Lucas said.
“I’m pleased that UH Libraries has been able to support instructors in adopting OER to remove the cost of textbooks for multiple social work courses,” said Santiago, head of Open Education Services. “It’s great to see GCSW faculty leveraging ATIP to make a positive impact on student success.”
Marilyn Kay Patterson National Women’s Conference Collection
The following is a guest post contributed by Nine Abad (they/them/their), who is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies. Abad processed the Marilyn Kay Patterson National Women’s Conference Collection as part of their capstone. Their take on students working with primary source materials: “Special Collections holds a fascinating inventory of various primary sources. I find that they are more revealing and interesting than secondary sources re-explaining and inserting their own analysis. While secondary sources can be helpful, it is uniquely valuable and important to discover your own perception and analysis of the primary source.”
At 28 years old, Marilyn Kay Patterson was among the waves of feminists fighting for equal rights and actionable policies that address issues such as abortion and reproductive freedom, sexual orientation and LGBTQ+ rights, disability, and race. In 1977, a slew of state conferences culminated into a National Women’s Conference held in Houston, where about 2,000 delegates from across the nation, in addition to 15,000 to 20,000 attendees, deliberated over a plan of action to present to Congress. Marilyn Kay Patterson was one of these delegates, representing New Hampshire and her stance on robust mental health policies. University of Houston Libraries Special Collections recently received a donation of her documents regarding the New Hampshire State Women’s Conference and the National Women’s Conference, including her speeches and proposals, newspapers covering the events of the conference, name badges, flyers, and a poster signed by members of the New Hampshire delegation to be housed in the Carey Shuart Women’s Research Collection.
The Marilyn Kay Patterson National Women’s Conference Collection includes booklets of information and plan-of-action drafts with Patterson’s notes, providing insight as to how she and other delegates may have looked at the policies proposed. In the margins of the proposals, she compares which national planks are similar to the New Hampshire proposals, jots down issues that were not addressed, and takes notes of speakers and procedures.
While there was a general sense of unity within the National Women’s Conference, there were still some internal tensions. Patterson and the New Hampshire delegation attempted to present a proposal regarding the mental health of women at the Houston National Women’s Conference, but they were unable to get to the microphone to present their proposal within the allotted time. Despite not being able to reach the stage, notes on the margins of the proposal asked delegates to pass the proposal around during the conference in hopes they would get more people to support the addition of such policies. After the conference, Patterson wrote letters to notable figures such as Gloria Steinem that important issues such as mental health were absent in conversation at the national stage.
Patterson went on to deliver speeches to local women’s organizations after the conference ended. In these speeches, she mentions critiques of the conference, including the lack of coverage of advocacies important to her. However, she notably crosses them out, instead focusing on informing women of the unity and progress that was displayed at the conference.
The Sharing Stories from 1977 project works to preserve the stories of participants like Marilyn Kay Patterson, who donated the collection materials and provided an oral history during her visit to Houston in 2022.
The Marilyn Kay Patterson collection hosts these speeches, proposals, and letters as well as photographs, flyers, a cassette tape, and newspapers covering the National Women’s Conference. Those interested in more information on the Marilyn Kay Patterson National Women’s Conference Collection and other National Women’s Conference collections are encouraged to visit Special Collections.
UH Theatre Students Design Course Reading List
Theatre students visited University of Houston Libraries Special Collections to access the archives and take part in a reimagined way of learning.
Elizabeth Coen, PhD, assistant professor and head of the MA in Theatre Studies at the UH School of Theatre and Dance, collaborated with Madelyn Washington, head of the Music Library, and Mary Manning, university archivist, to plan a co-curricular experience for 29 students that involved an assessment of playbills and marketing materials from theatre productions of the mid-to-late 20th century, with the goal of developing a list of plays that would be read collectively by the class.
Based on a recommendation by Andrew Davis, PhD, dean of the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts, Coen read The New Education (2017) by Cathy Davidson, and was inspired to craft a different kind of learning experience for the undergrads in her course, THEA 2344 American Drama, one that encourages creativity and empowerment.
“I began mulling the idea of having the students design the reading list,” Coen said. “My thought was to have them in the library researching and reading plays the first weeks of classes so that they could contemplate what constitutes the genre of American Drama – whose voices have been privileged through the stage and whose voices have been left out of the historical record. These questions address some of the most pressing issues in the theatre industry right now.”
Manning connected the students with primary source materials drawn from the Performing and Visual Arts Research Collection, followed by a session with Washington to learn how to boost their research with secondary sources, such as production reviews and related scholarly articles.
“My scholarship and teaching are informed by community collaborations and I really wanted the students to see what could be accomplished when experts across disciplines work together toward a common goal,” Coen said. “Mary Manning and Madelyn Washington opened up new possibilities for inquiry and thinking, which has enriched our conversations about American drama in the traditional classroom.”
It was playwriting/dramaturgy major Rachel Coleman’s first experience working with primary source materials, an exploration that showed the significance of document preservation on revealing culture and values of the past, and for stewarding the human perspective so often hidden in the historical record. “I think it’s easy, as a young creative, to feel like the only artist in the world, but these papers showed thousands of artists who also wanted to change, create, and evoke,” Coleman said. “These are not just records but memories, all of which took time, effort, and love. For many of these productions, the collections are the only evidence of that care.”
In examining the materials, Coleman sensed the mostly missing voices of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community in theatre of the time, not because of lack of individuals in the space, but from concerted attempts to mute them. “These identities have always existed, and as long as theater has existed alongside them, these people have been telling stories,” Coleman noted. “While several other themes stuck out in my research, such as many shows being adaptations, this silence was the most deafening.” This insight supports the need, in the study of American drama, to examine what wasn’t being produced as much as what was.
Countless discoveries of the serendipitous kind are waiting to be found in the archives. “We would have never been able to unpack this necessary work without the time spent in Special Collections,” Coleman said. “Primary documents are wonderful paths for original thought, filtered through no other narrator but time itself.”
Representation in the historical record is crucial, as Jessica García, a first-year student of stage management, found through her work with a group assigned to research the Dr. Nicolás Kanellos Hispanic Theatre Collection.
For García, the opportunity to examine the manuscripts, printed materials, photographs, and publications was impactful. Delving into the primary source materials presented a pivotal shift in her perspective on drama, denoted by a harmonizing of her identity as a creative and as a member of the Hispanic community, where there was once dissonance.
Her high school theatre program, although comprising a majority of Hispanic students, was limited in its scope. “Our only insight into theatre was through a white lens, so my ethnicity and identity as an artist were in separate boxes,” she said. Now pursuing higher education, García’s view of theatre had expanded, particularly through the research she conducted in the Kanellos collection.
New insights about Hispanic theatre materialized in the historical documents. “I had no idea the history behind Latino and Chicano theatre was so rich,” García said. She noticed that the archives presented a story of inclusion and empowerment, making theatre meaningful and engaging to Hispanic audiences. “The flyers we examined were more often than not advertising workshops or festivals, which was interesting,” García said. “These forms of presentations make theatre so much more accessible. The collection gave the impression that the goal for this Chicano theatre was to educate the community on what theatre can be, as a social platform and as a means of expressing oneself.”
Other notable observations surfaced for García in the collection, for instance, how musical presentations like corridos and boleros were produced as theatre, and the influence of Bertolt Brecht. “There was an inclination toward presenting epic theatre which at first took me off guard, but in retrospect it makes so much sense,” García said. “Hispanic artists were forcing their audience to take their message at face value. These plays were almost always about the Chicano experience. I think theatre is a great way to advocate, and these documents proved that a community can thrive with theatre used in those ways.”
One of the strengths of Special Collections is its focus on supporting the teaching and research activities of the University through preservation, organization, and description of materials representing a variety of perspectives. As a resource for the scholarly community and the general public, Special Collections offers endless potential for new knowledge that raises the visibility of these voices, both historical and contemporary.
Celebrate Open Education Week
March 6 – 10 marks the annual celebration of Open Education Week (OE Week), an opportunity for actively sharing and learning about the latest achievements in open education worldwide. OE Week was launched in 2012 by Open Education Global, a collaborative forum that exists to increase quality, accessibility, and affordability of education.
Here are some ways University of Houston faculty can learn more about open education:
- Apply for the Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP). This program offered by UH Libraries awards instructors who replace a commercial textbook with a no-cost or low-cost alternative textbook, which may include adopting open educational resources (OER), library resources, or other freely-available resources. Applications are due March 24.
- Attend OE Week events from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Division of Digital Learning. These sessions will highlight new services and initiatives including the OER Nursing Essentials (O.N.E.) Project in partnership with OpenStax, the Texas Student Success Program Inventory, and the Texas OER Playbook.
- Explore the UH Pressbooks catalog to view new OER titles from UH faculty and students. UH Libraries offers access to Pressbooks, an online book publishing platform for the creation of OER. Pressbooks regularly introduces new updates and features that improve the appearance and accessibility of the web books on its platform. Visit the Open Educational Resources Guide to learn more about how to publish with Pressbooks.
To learn more about how you can get involved, contact the UH Libraries department of Open Education Services by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was contributed by Kate McNally Carter (‘11), open educational resources librarian.
Exhibit Highlights the Genesis of UH African American Studies
An upcoming student-curated exhibit at University of Houston Libraries features the student organization Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) and its success in the inception of the UH African American Studies Program in 1969.
Forged by Protest: Student Organization Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) and the Genesis of the UH African American Studies Program was curated by Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) scholar Saron Regassa as an analog component of a digital project aiming to make the history of AABL accessible as an online resource. The exhibit is a collaboration between the UH department of African American Studies and UH Libraries.
In 1967, a UH sophomore, Gene Locke, created the student organization Committee for Better Race Relations (COBRR), which soon became Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL, pronounced “able”). On February 7, 1969, AABL presented their “10 Demands” to UH president Philip G. Hoffman, and throughout the semester, AABL rallied for support on campus. Among the demands was a call for a “Department of Afro-American Studies.” AABL’s activities led to the establishment of the UH Afro-American Program (now the department of African American Studies) later that year, making UH the first state university in Texas with such a program and one of the first in the nation. The UH African American Studies Program was granted departmental status in 2021. Tara T. Green joined the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) as founding chair of the department of African American Studies in 2022.
As part of the REACH project, Regassa is researching the history of AABL using archives across UH Special Collections, from student publications to UH administration records, and using the primary sources, provided the context and description for the exhibit. REACH is a year-long introductory research experience for undergraduates in humanities disciplines, and is supported by the Cougar Initiative to Engage and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA). REACH connects students to existing UH digital humanities projects and allows them to develop research skills through mentored, first-hand scholarly inquiry and through participation in OURMA research programming. REACH participants will present their research at Undergraduate Research Day in April 2023.
The exhibit will be on display at MD Anderson Library from February 13 through March 13.
New Exhibition on Birds Opens at UH Libraries
A new exhibition recently opened at University of Houston MD Anderson Library.
The Beauty of Birds highlights the illustrations that can be found in the pages of rare books at UH Libraries Special Collections and celebrates greater Houston’s place as a hub for birds and birders. Over 400 species of birds have been counted in Harris County alone, including both year-round residents and those that pass through on their annual spring migration. Especially popular with birders are the neotropical songbirds that make their way to breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada from as far away as South America. Following their incredible journey across the Gulf of Mexico, these birds stop at the first land they encounter, often sites such as High Island in Galveston, to rest and refuel. Jewel-like warblers and others delight those who see them every spring in greater Houston and the surrounding Gulf Coast communities, and again in the fall on the birds’ return trip.
This exhibition was initially developed in the spring of 2020, during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many library staff, including student employees, found themselves working from home without access to the physical materials in the library’s collection. Under the direction of the Rare Books Collections curator Julie Grob, former student employee Naomi Palomares (’21) remotely researched the many books about birds that are available from UH Special Collections for a future exhibition. In addition to relying on the library’s online catalog, she drew on the large collection of digitized books available at Biodiversity Heritage Library. Production support for the exhibition was provided by Jerrell Jones, Mauricio Lazo, and Greg Yerke.
The Beauty of Birds will be on display through May 11, 2023.
Announcing 2022 Alternative Textbook Award Winners
University of Houston Libraries, supported by the UH Office of the Provost, is pleased to announce the 2022 recipient cohort of the Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP).
UH instructors applied for an award ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 that would go toward implementation of an open or alternative textbook in a future course. This program incentivizes faculty members to replace required traditional textbook(s) and other high-cost learning materials in their courses with adoption, adaptation, or creation of open educational resources (OER), or assembly of freely available or library-sponsored resources.
Awards were granted based on the number of students impacted, projected cost savings for students, the type of project proposed, and the timeline and feasibility of successful implementation.
2022 ATIP winners are:
Graduate College of Social Work
- Chiara Acquati, Aabha Brown, and Virginia Lucas – SOCW 6305: Research and Knowledge Building in Social Work Practice
- Virginia Lucas – SOCW 6308: Human Diversity and Development
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
- Olusegun Babalola – PSYC 2305: Introduction to Methods in Psychology
- Anadeli Bencomo – SPAN 3374: Spanish American Culture and Civilization
- Viola Green, Raymond Gwanwo Hounfodji, Julie Tolliver, and Céline Wilson – FREN 1501: Elementary French I and FREN 1502: Elementary French II
- Viola Green, Raymond Gwanwo Hounfodji, Julie Tolliver, and Céline Wilson – FREN 2311: Intermediate French I and FREN 2312: Intermediate French II
- Jose Angel Hernandez – HIST 2303: Historian’s Craft
- Jose Angel Hernandez – HIST 4336: History of Histories: Historiography Capstone Seminar
- Melody Yunzi Li – CHIN/WCL 3342: Tales of East Asian Cities
C.T. Bauer College of Business
- Barbara Carlin and Marina Sebastijanovic – MANA 3335: Introduction to Organizational Behavior and Management
Conrad H. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership
- Simone Doudna – HRMA 4397: Airline Services Management
- Jason Draper – HRMA 2365: Tourism
- Sadegh Kazemi – HRMA 3348: Principles of Hospitality Revenue Management
- Cristian Morosan – HRMA 1301: Hospitality Technology
- Minjung Shin – HRMA 6330: Statistical Data Analysis in the Hospitality Industry
Cullen College of Engineering
- Stacey M. Louie – CIVE 6373: Experimental Methods in Environmental Engineering
College of Education
- Saira Rab – HDFS 4315: Culture and Diversity in Human Development
- Sissy Wong – CUIN 4325/7366: Teaching Science in Grades 4-8 I and CUIN 4326/7367: Teaching Science in Grades 4-8 II
This is the fourth round of awards for ATIP, which is part of the University’s mission to provide an inclusive, accessible educational experience for UH students. The initiative to mitigate the high cost of textbooks for students was championed by Paula Myrick Short, the former senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, who led the UH initiative to join the Open Textbook Network (renamed Open Education Network) in 2017. Since then, more UH faculty have been empowered through ATIP to reduce the financial burden of UH students.
Six of this year’s awarded projects were for adopting OER or library materials, one is for authoring OER, and eleven involve a combination of adopting, adapting, and/or authoring open resources. Projected savings for students in the first year of implementing alternative textbooks in these courses is $631,655, benefiting an estimated 4,873 students.
Learn more about open educational resources at UH.
“It’s highly rewarding to see the benefit of free and immediate access to course materials realized for so many UH students,” said Athena N. Jackson, dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair. “We’re committed to student success through the development of open educational resources via ATIP, and we’re pleased to continue partnering with faculty to improve the learning experience for students.”
Thanks to the members of the ATIP Review Committee: Emese Felvegi, Jaspal Subhlok, Shawn Vaillancourt, Elizabeth Irvin-Stravoski, and Ariana Santiago.
Hernandez Selected for Early Career Librarian Fellowship
Carolina Hernandez, student success librarian at University of Houston Libraries, is the 2022 recipient of the Rooks Early Career Librarian Fellowship.
Former UH Libraries dean Dana Rooks and spouse Charles W. (Mickey) Rooks, PhD established the fellowship endowment to support a UH librarian in professional development and research opportunities, such as memberships, conference fees, travel costs, equipment, and technology.
Hernandez is assessing the hiring process in academic libraries and how to make it more equitable and inclusive for applicants. “I’m working on a project focused on job postings and related application requirements, and how these can create barriers to application for Black, Indigenous, and Person of Color (BIPOC) identifying applicants,” Hernandez said. “Through interviews, I’d like to find out what characteristics have discouraged BIPOC individuals from applying to academic librarian positions, and also the encouraging characteristics that could be replicated elsewhere.”
The research that Hernandez is conducting aligns with student success priorities of the University. The insights discovered could lead to librarian applicant pools that better reflect the diverse UH student population. “Part of what can help students succeed is their ability to see themselves as researchers and scholars, and representation can help with achieving their goals,” Hernandez said. “Ultimately, our ability at UH Libraries to support student success hinges on the strength of the people that work here, so hiring practices need to be examined to ensure we’re vetting candidates in an equitable and effective manner.”
Hernandez received a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Master of Arts degree in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from Rutgers University.
New Online Exhibit Features DJ Screw Recordings
A student-curated digital exhibit featuring materials related to DJ Screw is available online.
From Coast to Coast: A Tour of DJ Screw’s Record Collection was created by Jenna Goodrich as part of a Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) project.
“This project has given me a glimpse of the steps in the process of creating an exhibit, and has taught me about what all goes into archival work,” Goodrich, a senior Honors College political science major, said. “This experience is invaluable.”
Goodrich, who is interested in archival and librarian work, selected items from the archives of UH Libraries Special Collections’ Houston Hip Hop Research Collection, particularly from the DJ Screw Sound Recordings comprising over 1600 of the artist’s personal albums and singles.
In working with primary sources, Goodrich learned what curating an exhibit involves. “You have to creatively piece together a story and a theme based off of what you have,” she said. “I learned about the wide array of materials that are considered primary sources. I was working with vinyl records, a unique type of source that opened my eyes to types of media that can be used for research.”
The online exhibit and the collection it represents offer viewers a deep look at DJ Screw and the milieu in which he created mixtapes. “The DJ Screw collection tells us about the diversity and wide scope of influence of both Houston hip hop and DJ Screw himself,” Goodrich said. “Screw had records from artists across the United States and used many different types of music to create his tapes. The vast amount of records from Houston-based hip hop artists sheds light on the entrepreneurial spirit of the artists.”
Based on her experience, Goodrich offers advice to other UH undergrads who may be interested in doing a research project. “I would suggest everyone try to do at least one research project before graduating,” she said. “Put your heart into the work so you can look back on your project and be proud of it when it comes time to apply for other fellowships or jobs. Create deadlines with your mentor and be in close contact with them to ground your project and give you structure. Have a vision of the end product in mind.”