Departments, Schools, Centers Welcome New Leaders

With the new academic year, several colleges have welcomed new academic leadership:

College of Architecture and Design

  • Craig GilliamCraig Gillam, lead, Digital Fabrication Services, Fab Lab. Gillam, fabrication supervisor for the college’s Fab Lab since 2014, is now also serving as lead for the new Digital Fabrication Services, a design resource available to academic and professional designers across the region. Gillam, a native of Australia, previously worked at University of Texas, Arlington. He has a bachelor’s degree in technology education from Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.

College of Arts and Sciences

  • Alex BentleyAlexander Bentley, Department of Anthropology. Bentley comes to UT from the University of Houston where he was a professor in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies. He received his doctorate in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin and is currently an honorary faculty member in the School of Social Science and Community Medicine at Bristol University in the United Kingdom.
  • Kristen BlockKirsten Block, chair of the Latin American/Caribbean Studies interdisciplinary program. Block holds a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Beloit College and a doctorate in history with an emphasis in early modern Atlantic world, women’s and gender history from Rutgers University. She worked at Florida Atlantic University before coming to UT.
  • Ronald Kalafsky, Department of Geography. He joined the department as an assistant professor in 2006 and served as associate department head during the 2016–17 academic year. Kalafsky received his doctorate in geography at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Prior to his appointment at UT, Kalafsky worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  • Michael McKinney, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He began teaching at UT in 1985 as an assistant professor of geological sciences. In 1999, he became a professor of geological sciences and ecology and evolutionary biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and in 2001 he became director of the newly formed Environmental Studies program. McKinney received his doctorate in geological sciences from Yale University.
  • Jeff Moersch, director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute. A professor of planetary geoscience, Moersch has been at UT since 2003. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Cornell University, a master’s degree in geology from Arizona State University, and a second master’s degree and a doctorate in astronomy from Cornell. The Planetary Geosciences Institute was established in 1993 to assemble planetary faculty, postdocs, students, and international collaborators to facilitate research and educate K–12 teachers, students, and the general public about the importance of planetary sciences and engineering. 
  • Todd Moore, associate dean for graduate studies. Moore came to the university in 2006 as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. In 2012, he became director of clinical training. Before joining the UT faculty, he was an assistant professor at the University of Houston Downtown.
  • Christine Shepardson, chair of Middle Eastern Studies interdisciplinary program. The Lindsay Young Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Shepardson has been at UT since 2003. Before that she was an instructor at Duke University and a visiting lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has a bachelor’s degree in religion and English from Swathmore College; an MTS from Boston University School of Theology; and a graduate certificate in women’s studies and a doctorate in early Christianity, both from Duke University.
  • Maria Stehle, chair of the Cinema Studies interdisciplinary program. Stehle received her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2005. She taught as a visiting assistant professor of German and of gender and women’s studies at Connecticut College in New London for two years before she joined the faculty at UT in the fall of 2007. She was previously the associate chair of cinema studies.

Haslam College of Business

  • Terry Neal, interim department head, Department of Accounting and Information Management. Neal is the Richard L. Townsend Distinguished Accounting Professor and a research fellow at UT’s C. Warren Neel Corporate Governance Center. He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Tennessee Technological University and his doctorate in accounting from UT. He was on the faculty of the University of Kentucky and worked in the private sector before joining the UT faculty in 2003.
  • Christian Vossler, Department of Economics. Vossler, who joined the faculty in 2003, is the Gerber/Taylor Professor of Business. He received his doctorate from Cornell University, his master’s degree in agricultural and resource economics from Oregon State University, and his bachelor’s degree in environmental and resource sciences from the University of Nevada.

College of Communication and Information

  • Michael Palenchar, associate dean for academic programs. Palenchar, an associate professor of advertising and public relations, joined the faculty in 2004. Palenchar holds a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in communication from the University of Houston, and a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Texas at Austin.

College of Education, Health and Human Sciences

  • Jimmy Cheek, director of the Postsecondary Education Research Center. Professor and Chancellor Emeritus Jimmy Cheek returned to the faculty this fall. Cheek served as UT’s chancellor from February 2009 to February 2017. Prior to his service with UT, Cheek was a member of the faculty and an administrator at the University of Florida for 34 years. He has a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate from Texas A&M University. He has a master’s degree from Lamar University.
  • Jeff CochranJeffrey Cochran, Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling. He has been teaching at UT since 2006, and his research interests include child-centered play therapy; counselor skill and personal development; at-risk children; youth and families; and high-poverty schools. He and his wife run the REACH Project, which is a multisystemic school-based mental health counseling intervention for very-high-risk children and families.
  • Hollie Raynor, interim assistant dean for research. A professor of nutrition, Raynor received her bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from San Diego State University. She did a clinical nutrition internship at UT Medical Center in 1994, then got her master’s degree in public health nutrition from UT in 1995. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo (now the University at Buffalo). Before joining the UT faculty in 2007, she was an instructor at SUNY and served on the faculty at Brown Medical School/the Miriam Hospital and at Rhode Island College, both in in Providence, Rhode Island.

Tickle College of Engineering

  • Mark Balas, director of the Center for Laser Applications. He comes to UT from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and has previous stops at the University of Wyoming and the University of Colorado, as well as visiting faculty positions with the California Institute of Technology, the US Air Force, and NASA. His expertise is in control systems for aerospace craft and structures and in high-performance optics and vehicles.
  • Veerle Keppens, Department of Materials Science and Engineering. She had been serving as interim head since June 2015 and became the permanent head on October 1, 2016. Keppens came to UT’s College of Engineering in 2003. A native of Belgium, she earned her both her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, just east of Brussels.
  • Lynne ParkerLynne Parker, associate dean for faculty affairs and engagement. A professor of electrical engineering and computer science, Parker came to UT in 2002. She founded and has served as director of the Distributed Intelligence Laboratory and the Center for Intelligent Systems and Machine Learning. She has also served as associate department head. While remaining a faculty member, Parker spent two years in Washington, D.C., as director of the NSF’s Division of Information and Intelligent Systems. She returned to UT and assumed her new role in January.

College of Social Work

  • David DupperDavid Dupper, interim dean. Dupper came to UT in 1998. He served as associate dean from 2001 to 2004 and served as director of the college’s BSSW program from 2013 to 2016. He has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a doctorate in social work from Florida State University.