Egret nameplate   The magazine of University of Houston-Clear Lake
fall 2009 | volume 16 | number 1





Early Achievement and Outstanding Professor award recipients also honored

Distinguished Alumni Award honorees (l-r) Richard H. Anderson and Christopher J. Culbert celebrate with President William A. Staples, Early Achievement Award honoree Corey J. Wilson and Outstanding Professor Award honoree Gretchen Mieszkowski at the 2009 UHCL Alumni Celebration. Not pictured is Outstanding Professor Award honoree Caroline Crawford.
Photo by Mark Kinonen
Distinguished Alumni Award honorees (l-r) Richard H. Anderson and Christopher J. Culbert celebrate with President William A. Staples, Early Achievement Award honoree Corey J. Wilson and Outstanding Professor Award honoree Gretchen Mieszkowski at the 2009 UHCL Alumni Celebration. Not pictured is Outstanding Professor Award honoree Caroline Crawford.

University alumni and community friends gathered at the annual UHCL Alumni Celebration in October to honor two new Distinguished Alumni as well as recipients of the Early Achievement Award and Outstanding Professor Award.

2009 Distinguished Alumni Award honorees are Richard H. Anderson, chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines, and Christopher J. Culbert, project manager of the Lunar Surface Systems project in NASA’s Constellation Program Office at Johnson Space Center. Both have pleasant memories of their time as students at the university.

“UHCL engenders a certain fondness,” Anderson says, “because of the positive atmosphere and open academic environment of those first years in the Bayou Building.”

Born in Galveston, Anderson attended Galveston College and earned a Bachelor of Science in American jurisprudence in 1977 from UHCL, where he found “a fine faculty that seriously engaged students in an intense academic environment.” He earned a Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law in 1982.

During his distinguished career as an attorney and corporate executive, Anderson served as chief counsel for the Harris County Criminal Courts and worked with airline giants Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines. Before accepting his current role with Delta, he was executive vice president with UnitedHealth Group Inc.

In addition to Anderson’s support of charitable causes in the communities where he has lived, including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Catholic Churches of Minneapolis, Twin Cities United Way and The Henry Ford Museum, he currently oversees all aspects of the largest merger in the history of U.S. airlines, making Delta the world’s largest airline.

When Culbert came to UHCL as a student, he discovered an environment uniquely suited to support the scholarship of working adults.

“Probably more than anything else, UHCL helped teach me the importance of lifelong learning,” he says. “Like most college graduates, I got my bachelor’s degree and immediately moved into the work force. I started taking graduate classes because I quickly learned there were topics relevant to my work life that hadn’t come up in my undergraduate course work. I found the value of those classes went well beyond what I needed for day-to-day work activities; I was able to use some of that knowledge in ways I would never have anticipated, making me much more capable.”

Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Culbert has built a career with NASA that spans 28 years, beginning just after he earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from University of Arizona in 1981. He earned a Master of Science in physical sciences from UHCL in 1986.


Celebrate the start of a new year under a canopy of stars. Join the UHCL Alumni Association for its UHCL AlumNight New Year’s Star Party on Thursday, Jan. 14, 7-9 p.m., at UHCL’s Alumni Plaza and Liberty Park. Guests will enjoy a wine and cheese reception, winter beverages and star gazing guided by the JSC Astronomical Society while catching up with old friends and making new connections.

This event is part of a yearlong “50 Grand” celebration, which commemorates the university surpassing 50,000 alumni during the 2009-10 academic year. For a full list of “50 Grand” events, please visit and select Alumni Events.

UHCL AlumNights are casual networking events where alumni can reconnect with their alma mater, mix and mingle with fellow alumni and forge new relationships. For more information about how you can get involved, please contact the Office of Alumni and Community relations at 281-283-2041 or visit

During his career with NASA, Culbert has served as flight controller on 10 space shuttle missions and led initiatives to develop and introduce a number of advanced technologies, ranging from artificial intelligence tools in mission control and onboard the space shuttle to virtual reality training systems to state-of-the-art robotics.

Placing a high value on math, science and technology education, Culbert has volunteered for the last 10 years to help build a robotics education community in the Houston area. He is an active member of the organizing committee for five separate robotic competitions focused on school children, which include Engineering and Robotics Learned Early for primary students; LEGO Robotics for upper elementary and intermediate students; Best Robotics for intermediate and high school students; Botball for intermediate and high school students; and FIRST, a competition for high school students. During these competitions, Culbert teaches students about solving problems, making decisions, communicating, innovating and leading, along with the technical engineering skills necessary to build robots. Culbert also handles much of the logistics for each program and competition.

In addition to being honored at the annual Alumni Celebration, Anderson and Culbert will be recognized with photos permanently displayed at the university and their names will be engraved on the Distinguished Alumni Wall in Alumni Plaza.

Corey J. Wilson is the recipient of the 2009 Early Achievement Award. He earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from UHCL in 2002 and a Doctor of Philosophy in biochemistry and cell biology from Rice University in 2005. He is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Yale University. A U.S. Army veteran, Wilson was a Life Flight paramedic at Memorial-Hermann Hospital before entering academia. He conducted postdoctoral research at Rice, University of California-San Diego and California Institute of Technology before joining the faculty at Yale.

Recipients of the 2009 Outstanding Professor Award are Associate Professor of Instructional Technology Caroline Crawford and charter faculty member and Professor Emerita of Literature Gretchen Mieszkowski.

Crawford earned her Bachelor of Applied Technology from Sam Houston State University, Master of Liberal Arts from Houston Baptist University and Doctor of Education from University of Houston. Before joining UHCL, Crawford taught in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and at University of Houston. She has been UHCL’s Piper Award nominee twice. Author of “The Emergence of the Field of Instructional Design and Technology: Guiding Trends and Issues,” Crawford has held numerous editorial posts with a variety of journals and served on the committees of several state and local education organizations.

Mieszkowski earned a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Vassar College and a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in literature from Yale University. Before joining UHCL in 1974, Mieszkowski taught at University of Chicago, Yale and Queen’s University. A Piper Award winner, she is the only UHCL faculty member to win the President’s Distinguished Teaching Award, President’s Distinguished Research Award and President’s Distinguished Service Award. Mieszkowski is the author of two books, “The Reputation of Criseyde: 1155-1500” and “Medieval Go-Betweens and Chaucer’s Pandarus,” and has served on numerous editorial and advisory boards as well as UHCL committees.

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