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New UHV provost has experience in South Texas

By KBell
Dec. 20, 2011 at 6:20 a.m.
Updated Dec. 21, 2011 at 6:21 a.m.

Jeffrey Cass

ABOUT JEFFREY CASS

Earned a bachelor's degree in English and German from the University of Dallas, and his master's and doctorate in comparative literature from the University of California at San Diego.Before becoming dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at ULM, he served from 1991 to 2007 at Texas A&M International University in Laredo as an English professor, assistant to the provost, Advanced Placement Faculty Fellows director and associate provost.Prior to joining Texas A&M International, he taught at Laredo Community College.Cass was honored with a ULM CenturyLink "Accent on Excellence" Award for Course Redesign.He is a former TAMIU University Scholar of the Year.He serves on the board of directors for the College English Association and recently completed an advisory board term for the International Conference on Romanticism.Cass has co-edited two book collections and has contributed to numerous publications, including essays on British romanticism and orientalism and book reviews on popular culture. Source: UHV news release

For the newly-appointed provost of the University of Houston-Victoria, moving to Texas seems like coming home, he said.

The university announced Tuesday that Jeffrey Cass, dean of the University of Louisiana at Monroe College of Arts and Sciences, will become provost and vice president for academic affairs beginning Feb. 1.

"I spent so many years in Texas and Laredo, and I'm pretty good at Spanish as well ... so I feel pretty comfortable" Cass said.

Cass worked at Laredo Community College before becoming a faculty member at Texas A&M International University.

His experience with both a community college and four-year university was just one of the aspects that made him stand out among provost candidates, especially considering the university's relationship with Victoria College, said UHV President Philip Castille.

"I thought that was really important to know our student pool and to be ready to come in and immediately be responsive to our students' needs and abilities to support them," Castille said.

Before even interviewing Cass, Castille said he hoped to find a provost who met two criteria: a candidate who had experience with higher education in Texas and one who was familiar with gaining accreditation.

UHV is preparing for its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation in 2014, a process that can take years of preparation, Castille said.

Cass has overseen SACS accreditations at two universities.

"Because there have been some personnel changes at the top at UHV, we really don't have a minute to spare," said Castille, who took over as president at the beginning of the fall semester.

The fit seemed good for both UHV and Cass, who said he's anxious to work in a supportive community and an "interesting, growing and thriving institution."

"I think I look forward to getting to know the faculty, their interests, their plans. My job as provost is not so much to impose my vision, although I think I have one. but also to elicit their views and facilitate their needs," he said.

Besides the professional attractions, Cass said he has family in Houston, and is looking forward to using the Victoria school district's new natatorium, as he recently became involved in triathlons.

Cass glimpsed the natatorium when he came to Victoria to interview, as did two other provost candidates selected by a search committee.

He will replace interim provost Don Smith, who also served a year as the interim president before Castille arrived.

The provost is an office appointed by the president that oversees the deans of UHV's four schools and is the primary advisor in planning and developing academic programs.

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