Dr. Eletra Gilchrist-Petty, a native of Hillsboro, Alabama, and Dr. Sampson Gholston, of Mt. Hope, Alabama, have been promoted to the distinction of full professors at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. 

Professors are generally divided into three basic categories. Newly hired and untenured professors are called Assistant Professors. Once tenure is earned based on teaching, research and service excellence, professors are ranked as Associate Professors and are considered mid-level experts in their chosen field of study. Full Professors represent professors of the highest rank who have established a national or even international reputation of superiority in the discipline.  

Of all academics in the United States, less than one-fourth are Full Professors, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Also, “The Chronicle of Higher Education” reported in 2019 that African American women comprise only about 2% of all Full Professors. Gilchrist-Petty is the first African American woman Full Professor in UAH’s 50-year history, while Gholston is only the third African American man to earn such a distinction. 

Gilchrist-Petty was the 1996 Valedictorian of East Lawrence High School. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communication Studies from The University of Alabama, and her Ph.D. from The University of Memphis. After working as an Assistant Professor at Middle Tennessee State University for four years, she joined the faculty at UAH as an Assistant Professor of Communication Arts in 2008 and, subsequently, earned tenure in 2013. 

Gilchrist-Petty teaches a range of undergraduate and graduate-level courses at UAH, including: Communication Pedagogy, Communication and Culture, Introduction to Journalism, Advanced Media Writing, Public Speaking, Senior Seminar, Small Group Communication and the Dark Side of Communication. Gilchrist-Petty is the author of three books and more than two dozen other publications in the form of articles and book chapters. She has also presented her scholarly research at many regional, national, and international communication conferences.

Gholston was a 1986 graduate from Mt. Hope High School.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University in Engineering Technology, a master’s in Industrial Engineering from The University of Alabama, and his Ph. D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from The University of Alabama in Huntsville.  His work experience includes working as a Supplier Quality Engineer for the GM Saturn Corporation.  

Gholston teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in Introduction to Statistical Quality Control, Quality Management, Advanced Quality Control, and Engineering Statistics.  His research area is Applied Statistics, Quality Engineering, Quality Management and Engineering Education.  He is also a Senior Examiner for the National Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, which is the nation’s only Presidential award for performance excellence dedicated to helping improve performance of organizations located in the United States.


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