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College of Liberal and Fine Arts

Department Chairs

Thad Bartlett, Chair

Department of Anthropology

"My primary research interest is in the behavioral ecology of living primates. Behavioral ecology focuses on how individuals adapt to constraints imposed by physical and social environments. To be successful in an evolutionary sense, animals have to cope, minimally, with three problems: finding food, avoiding predators, and finding reproductive partners. Solutions to these problems will differ under differing ecological conditions and one goal of primatology is to document patterns of response across species in order to better understand the principles that guide primate adaptation and evolution. Under the umbrella of primate behavioral ecology I have focused in particular on the role of food availability in shaping primate behavior and social structure. My exploration of this topic has taken two very different tracks, first, through the study of foraging behavior and resource competition in wild primates and, second, through controlled studies of maternal undernutrition and progeny outcomes in captive baboons. Most recently, I have begun to focus on the applied dimensions of primate ecology. I am currently working with colleagues in Thailand and Malaysia to document gibbon density and distribution in human modified landscapes."

Gregory Elliott, Chair

Department of Art & Art History

Mr. Gregory Elliott begins his position as Chair of the Art Department at UTSA effective August 18, 2008. Mr. Elliott earned his MFA degree from Southern Methodist University in 1988, where he also received his MA degree in 1980. In 2003 Mr. Elliott, began serving as the Chairman for the Department of Art at the University of Texas at El Paso. During his tenure, the number of art majors grew by approximately 50% and he was instrumental in developing and implementing UTEP's Quality Enhancement Plan. Professor Elliott also served as head of the sculpture area and graduate coordinator at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana from 1998 to 2002.

Professor Elliott comes to UTSA as a widely acknowledged leader of the arts in the El Paso region, and is credited with being instrumental in accomplishing the opening of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts Center, the cornerstone of cultural activities at UTEP. As a tenured professor, he has shown a dedication to making education a priority and is committed to improving teaching and learning in the visual arts. Mr. Elliott also has a long list of artistic and scholarly awards and exhibitions and has received numerous grants and fellowships.

H. Paul LeBlanc III, Chair

Department of Communication

Dr. Paul LeBlanc began his position as Chair of the Department of Communication on September 1, 2010. He previously served as the Graduate Advisor of Record for the MA Program in Communication for three years. He received his MA in Communication in 1992 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and his PhD in Communication in 2000 from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He has been a faculty member at UTSA since 2001. His research focuses on health communication, family communication and communication education. He is currently conducting research on marital communication. His primary research question is "How do relational partners communicate inclusion?" Dr. LeBlanc has received a faculty research award and served as a faculty mentor for the Lancy Scholarship program. In addition to research, Dr. LeBlanc teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in social interaction and interpersonal communication He also teaches in the communication core with a particular interest in research methods. He is an active supporter of graduate and undergraduate student research, and has supervised 14 student papers presented at conferences, three of which received honors. He has also supervised three student projects that were subsequently published. He has directed and reviewed both graduate and undergraduate theses.

Mark Brayer, Chair

Department of English

Dr. Mark Bayer began his tenure as department chair in 2013. His research focuses on the reception of early modern drama--both the local conditions of dramatic performance in sixteenth and seventeenth century London, and the reception of  Shakespeare’s plays in contexts ranging from the modern Middle East to nineteenth century America.  In his first book, Theatre, Community, and Civic Engagement in Jacobean London (University of Iowa Press, 2011), he claimed that playgoing enhanced social capital and contributed to community formation in early modern London—especially in the neighborhoods where specific playhouses were located.  His current project looks at the emergence of Shakespeare studies as an institutionalized academic discipline in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Rhonda M. Gonzales, Chair

Department of History

Dr. Rhonda M. Gonzales is Professor and Chair of UTSA’s Department of History. She has wide-ranging experience as a university administrator having served as interim dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and the Stumberg Endowed Distinguished University Chair for the Dean of Liberal and Fine Arts at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), inaugural vice president for student success, associate vice provost for strategic initiatives and director of PIVOT for Academic Success. She is an active researcher on African and African Diaspora History. She is a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities La Academia de Liderazgo Fellow (2020-2021), an American Council on Education Fellow (2014-2015), a Ford Foundation Fellow (2000-2001, 2006-2007) and an Andrew Mellon Foundation Fellow (2001-2003). She is principal investigator on grants totaling more than $6 million to build programs that support student retention and graduation rates and research in Africa, Spain and Mexico. 

Among her accomplishments include the 2011 founding of the UTSA’s Women’s Professional Advancement and Synergy Academy (WPASA), which has graduated nearly 100 faculty and staff; the founding of UTSA's First Generation and Transfer Student Center, which trains and employs peer mentors, faculty coaches and support staff who develop and provide programing to support our more than 11,000 first-gen students and transfer students; creating a Math Emporium model for Algebra for Science, Engineering, and Business students to increase student success, including the retention of women and underrepresented minorities in these majors. In her role as dean she launched two college initiatives to support faculty at critical junctures in their careers. One initiative involved focused mentorship for associate professors to help them attain full rank, and a second initiative committed the use of the COLFA dean’s endowment to create the Stumberg Summer Research Awards for faculty. 

Dr. Gonzales is a strategic, energetic, relatable and considerate leader who understands and appreciates the power of education to transform the lives of students, their families and communities for generations to come. In her 16-year career at UTSA, she has earned a reputation as a champion for faculty, staff, and student success. Her drive to identify, remove institutional barriers and support student preparedness for college and faculty success are informed by her personal journey as a Mexican American, first-generation high school and college graduate. Dr. Gonzales’ professional trajectory as a faculty member and administrator has taken shape through the many opportunities she has been tapped for since she left Macalester College—where for two years she was an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Women and Gender Studies and History departments—to launch her career at UTSA.  

Nathan Richardson, Chair

Department of Modern Languages & Literatures


Tracy Cowden, Chair

Department of Music

Recently appointed Roland K. Blumberg Endowed Professor in Music and Chair of the Department of Music at The University of Texas at San Antonio, Tracy Cowden’s professional life centers around making music with others, whether in duos, chamber music, or orchestral settings. Her work as a collaborative pianist includes a wide range of music and partners, from the music of Jane Austen’s songbook with soprano Julianne Baird, to klezmer-influenced music with clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein and cellist Nick Cannelakis, to American fiddle music with violinist Mark O’Connor. She is also active in commissioning and performing 21st century music, and has premiered works in concerts from Kalamazoo to Bangkok. One recent project debuted classical duos for trumpet and piano written by jazz composers, which was released on the Origin Classical label. Cowden’s interest in poetry and art song has led her to commission a song cycle by Gregory Hutter that features the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, and another by Daron Hagen titled Vegetable Verselets, which features poetry by Margaret Hays, and which will be released on a forthcoming recording in 2019.

Also active as a clinician and lecturer, Cowden has presented master classes and workshops on topics related to collaborative music-making and creative programming across the country. She has been a presenter or performer at conferences including the National Opera Association, Music Teachers National Association, College Music Society, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, International Trumpet Guild, International Tuba Euphonium Conference, and the National Flute Association. Cowden is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music through the Music Teachers National Association, and currently serves as chair designate to the MTNA National Certification Commission, as well as a visiting evaluator for the professional accrediting organization, the National Association of Schools of Music.

 A Michigan native, Cowden has previously served as a faculty member at Virginia Tech, Ohio Wesleyan University, Kalamazoo College, and Hope College. She received the D.M.A. and M.M. degrees in piano accompanying and chamber music from the Eastman School of Music, and a B.M. degree in piano performance from Western Michigan University.

Eve Browning, Chair

Department of Philosophy & Classics

Eve Browning joins UTSA as chair of the Department of Philosophy and Classics. She grew up in Florida, graduated from the University of Florida, and holds a Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego. Most recently she was Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Her research centers on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and culture. In her spare time she enjoys trail riding with her horse Gentle John.


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