COVID-19 Updates: Safety Protocols Remain in Effect for UHCL. Message from the President.

President’s Speaker Series: The Big Questions

President's Speaker Series: The Big Questions. Conversations to shape our collective future.

Located in the nation’s fourth largest and most diverse city, UHCL is a future-orientated public urban university located next to NASA-JSC, serving a highly diverse student population and a technologically evolving economy.

The Big Questions Speaker Series is focused upon the most critical educational, social, environmental, and technological challenges facing higher education and communities, and presents differing perspectives and authoritative world-class experts to address both challenges and opportunities. The overall purpose of this series is to create awareness, foster informed dialogue, and create communities of practice bearing upon our collective futures. 

Spring 2021 Series


Mental Health and COVID-19: How Can Higher Education Help?

Friday, April 23, 2021
10:45 a.m. - 1 p.m. (CST)

Zoom Meeting | Register

Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), neuroscience researcher, and former psychiatry professor at Columbia University and general psychiatrist

Host: Dr. Kevin Wooten

Speaking Points:

  • Effects of COVID-19 on mental health, lessons learned and outlook for the future
  • Impact of COVID-19 on colleges and universities
  • Sustainable mental health, resilient communities and how higher education can help

UHCL Faculty Panel:

  • College of Human Sciences and Humanities: Dr. Roberta Leal, Dr. Dorothea Lerman, Dr. Mary Short and Dr. Rick Short
  • UHCL Counseling Services: Dr. Cindy Cook
  Presentation Agenda

10:45 a.m.     Video prelude and welcome by President Ira K. Blake 
11:00 a.m.     Dr. Short introduces Dr. Gordon
11:03 a.m.      Dr. Joshua Gordon begins
11:45 a.m.      Q&A
12:00 p.m.     Faculty panelist discussion
12:15 p.m.      "Roundtable" dialogue
12:45 p.m.     Synthesis, featuring moderators and faculty panelists
12:50 p.m.     Q&A 
1:00 p.m.       Conclusion

  Speaker Bio

Dr. Gordon received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco, and completed his psychiatry residency and research fellowship at Columbia University. He joined the Columbia faculty in 2004 as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, where he conducted research, taught residents and maintained a general psychiatry practice. In September of 2016, he became the director of the National Institute of Mental Health. 

His research focuses on the analysis of neural activity in mice carrying mutations of relevance to psychiatric disease. His lab studies genetic models of these diseases from an integrative neuroscience perspective, focused on understanding how a given disease mutation leads to a behavioral phenotype across multiple levels of analysis. To this end, Dr. Gordon employs a range of systems neuroscience techniques, including in vivo anesthetized and awake behaving recordings and optogenetics, which is the use of light to control neural activity. His work has direct relevance to schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and depression. 

Dr. Gordon’s work has been recognized by several prestigious awards, including the The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation – NARSAD Young Investigator Award, the Rising Star Award from the International Mental Health Research Organization, the A.E. Bennett Research Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry, and the Daniel.


References to NIH or NIMH during this presentation are not intended as endorsements by NIMH of any products or services.

Related Links:

Past Spring 2021 Presentation


Public Health Access and Pandemics: How Can Higher Education Help?

Friday, April 9, 2021 
10:45 a.m. - 1 p.m. (CST) 

Zoom Meeting | Watch Presentation

Speaker: Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., professor at Baylor College of Medicine, co-director of Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics and renowned author

Host: Dr. Kevin Wooten

Speaking Points:

  • Status of COVID-19, lessons learned and outlook for the future
  • Impacts of COVID-19 on higher education
  • Public health, a resilient society and how higher education can help

UHCL Faculty Panel:

  • College of Business: Dr. Femi Ayadi and Dr. Jordan Mitchell
  • College of Human Sciences and Humanities: Dr. Karen Alexander, Dr. Bill Amonette, Dr. Isabelle Kusters and Dr. Dawit Woldu
  Speaker Bio

Dr. Hotez is a professor of pediatrics and molecular virology at Baylor College of Medicine, where he is also co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development and Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics. He is a vaccine scientist who led the development of vaccines to prevent and treat neglected tropical diseases and coronavirus infections. A new Texas Children’s COVID-19 vaccine is being accelerated in India and is undergoing clinical testing.

Dr. Hotez obtained his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his M.D. and Ph.D. from Weil Cornell Medical College and Rockefeller University. He is the author of more than 550 scientific articles indexed on PubMed, and four single-author books. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and has been honored by PAHO/WHO, Research America, B’nai Brith, American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, and other organizations. He appears frequently on major news outlets promoting global health, vaccines and immunizations, countering anti-vaccine and anti-science movements.

Related Links:

Fall 2020 Series

  Nov. 13, 2020: Diversity, Inclusion and Globalism in Higher Education 

Speaker: Dr. James A. Anderson

  Oct. 30, 2020: How Do We Prepare for the Future of Higher Education? 
  • Starting a New University and Transforming for the Future 
    Panelists: Dr. Peter Bishop, Dr. Chris Dede and Jennifer Jarratt | Panel Recording

  • The 60-Year Curriculum 
    Presenter: Dr. Chris Dede | Slides | Session Recording

  • The Transformation of Work in a Post-Pandemic World and Digital Econom
    Presenter: Jennifer Jarratt | Slides | Session Recording

  • How to Integrate Future Thinking into Your Curriculum 
    Presenter: Dr. Peter Bishop | Slides | Session Recording

  • Virtual Reception and Q&A | Session Recording


  • President's Speaker Series


    2700 Bay Area Blvd
    Houston, TX 77058