Van Horn joined UHD as an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction for reading and language arts in 2000, became an associate professor of urban education in 2007 and received a full professorship in 2013. UHD honored her with the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007 and the Excellence in Service Award in 2012, as well as the Provost’s Recognition Award for Outstanding Contributions to University Success in 2012.
“Dr. Van Horn embodies key qualities that the University most values, including excellence in teaching, scholarship and community service,” said Ed Hugetz, UHD interim senior vice president of academic affairs and provost. “In the College of Public Service – which stands as a model of community service for the University – her passion and dedication to high-impact practices and hands-on service to Houstonians are exemplars for her fellow colleagues, staff and students.
“Throughout her 14-year tenure at UHD, she has empowered future teachers through her own teaching and personal example of excellence and innovation, both in- and outside of the classroom,” said Hugetz. “As interim dean, she will advance the College’s internal and civic initiatives and support faculty to help ensure student success.”
Van Horn has displayed her leadership as assistant chair of the Department of Urban Education and director of the Master of Arts in teaching degree at UHD. She also has served on numerous University-level committees and as chair of the Teaching Excellence Task Force, chair of the Faculty/Staff Campaign Steering Committee, chair of the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects and chair of the Faculty Awards Committee. Currently, she is chair of the High-Impact Practices subcommittee for the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) and is a member of the CTLE advisory board.
Her community service is centered on issues related to literacy. Van Horn’s extensive service to SEARCH Homeless’ House of Tiny Treasures (HTT) – Houston’s first nationally accredited early childhood development center dedicated to serving homeless children and families – is an excellent example for her urban education students. In 2006, she created the ongoing Family Literacy Project at HTT, through which UHD students engage children and parents in literacy activities and observe family dynamics to enhance their own teaching abilities.
Her community impact is well acknowledged, as evidenced by her recent appointment by Houston Mayor Annise Parker to the board of directors of the Houston Center for Literacy. She also is on the advisory board for Notes on American Literature, a journal of the Texas Council of Teachers of English, and she served as co-editor of the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts’ state journal, English in Texas.
Her research focuses on issues related to literacy, empathy and urban education, and her published books include Reading on the Edge: Enabling, Empowering and Engaging Middle School Readers, Creating Literacy Communities in Middle School, and Reading Photographs to Write with Meaning and Purpose in Grades 4-12.
Van Horn received a doctorate in education, curriculum and instruction at the University of Houston, a master’s degree in reading at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at the University of Houston.
Prior to joining UHD, she served as an adjunct instructor of education at the University of Houston and the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and as a reading teacher at Creekside Intermediate School in Clear Creek Independent School District.
“I am excited about this opportunity to serve the people and the place that I care so much about,” said Van Horn. “The College of Public Service is a place where faculty, staff and students representing urban education, social work, criminal justice, the Criminal Justice Training Center and the Center for Public Service and Family Strengths forge relationships with the community and pioneer ways to effect positive change.
“It is a place where future leaders in public service are engaged in transformative experiences and taught to leave a legacy in the communities where they live and work,” said Van Horn. “As an educator and a faculty member, I have devoted my life to working with others to build resilience and positive action. I hope to use all that I have learned here at UHD to help us continue our path toward excellence in all facets of public service education.”