Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University Names Interim Dean of Honors College

Amanda Bowman

August 10, 2020

Aliza Wong will begin her role on Sept. 1.

Aliza Wong, a professor in Texas Tech University's Department of History and the associate dean of the Honors College, was named interim dean of the Honors College. Her duties will begin on Sept. 1. Wong is assuming the role of interim dean after former Honors College Dean Michael San Francisco was selected as the interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.


Wong received her undergraduate degree with a triple major in history, English and Asian languages and civilizations from Amherst College, and her master's and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has taught a number of courses in the Texas Tech Department of History since 2001 and joined the faculty in a tenure-track position in 2002.

Wong said she feels fortunate to have been mentored throughout the years by countless faculty and staff, including San Francisco; the Honors College Heads of Houses (Jane Winer, Gary Bell, Don Haragan and Bob Lawless); faculty emeriti, including Bell, Jim Brink and Jim Clopton; Provost Michael Galyean; and President Lawrence Schovanec and his Chief of Staff Grace Hernandez.

"They are some of the most brilliant, most generous leaders on this campus," Wong said. "But I also have been privileged to be inspired and educated by some of the most creative, most giving, most active upstanders, our Honors College students, both past and present. During this time of COVID-19, I have learned resilience from our students, faculty and staff. I have learned tolerance, kindness, hope and insistence on human dignity and justice. They embody and illuminate the pillars of the Honors College – knowledge, integrity, service and courage. I am humbled and honored to be a part of this community."

She has been honored with several teaching awards, including the Phi Alpha Theta Distinguished Faculty Award (2003-2004 and 2006-2007), the Hemphill-Wells New Faculty Teaching Award (2004-2005), the Mortar Board Society's Outstanding Faculty Award (2005-2006), the Alumni Association New Faculty Award (2005-2006), the President's Excellence in Teaching Award (2006-2007) and the Eta Omicron Nu Distinguished Faculty Award (2013-2014). In 2014, Wong also was inducted as an honorary member of the Texas Tech Forum Chapter of the Mortar Board Society. Recently, Wong was named a 2019 Piper Professor, an honor given to only 10 professors in the state of Texas.

Wong was selected as an Integrated Scholar by the Office of the Provost. She also received the highest teaching award of the Texas Tech University System, the Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching Award, in 2015. For her work on multiculturalism, diversity and access and opportunity, Wong received the Texas Tech Inclusive Excellence Award in 2013 and the President's Excellence in Diversity Award in 2015. Wong also has received the Spencer A. Wells Creativity in Teaching Award (2019), a President's Teaching Excellence Professorship (2018) and the Texas Tech University Academic Achievement Award (2018).

Wong is a member of Texas Tech's Teaching Academy, the director of European studies and served as a member and the president of Faculty Senate. She is a specialist in modern Italian history with a concentration on southern question discourse, race, nationalism and identity. Her book, "Race and Nation in Liberal Italy, 1861-1911: Meriodionalism, Empire and Diaspora," is available from Palgrave-Macmillan.

"Aliza received an incredible amount of support in the form of a large number of nominations from colleagues across the campus," Texas Tech Provost Michael Galyean said. "With several years of exceptional service as the associate dean in the Honors College, I am confident that she will do a terrific job in this position."

Wong's research interests have extended to work on diasporic systems, and she has both published and presented papers on the immigrant communities in Italy. She has presented several papers, including ones at the American Historical Association national conference and the American Political Science Association national conference. She also has presented in international conferences in places such as Cambridge, England; Hong Kong; Paris; and Cosenza, Italy. Wong just completed a new book, an examination of Italian constructions of the American Far West.

Wong's work on the Texas Liberator Project and the documentary film, "Narratives of Modern Genocide," both joint efforts between the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission and Texas Tech, and the West Texas 3D COVID-19 Relief Consortium also have been a source of distinction.

Wong is a two-time Fulbright Scholar. She was awarded a Fulbright Junior Scholar Research Award to Italy (2005-2006), which is awarded to only one scholar annually. She also received an earlier Fulbright graduate student research fellowship to Italy (1999-2000). Most recently, Wong was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Connections Planning Grant with John Carrell (2019) to develop the Humanities-Driven STEM (HDSTEM) program. She also received a National Endowment for the Humanities Hispanic-Serving Institute Grant (2020) to revamp the Honors College's sciences and the humanities major.