Spring Break is almost here and, as we all eagerly prepare for that well-deserved period of reflection, I want to update you on a number of significant actions taken by the UH System Board of Regents at its meeting last week.
New Regent: First and foremost, let’s welcome a new member to the Board of Regents, Ms. Beth Madison. She replaces Ms. Nandita Berry, who was recently appointed Secretary of State of Texas. A UH alumna, Madison is a life member of the UH Alumni Association and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She is a shareholder and managing director of Higginbotham and Associates as well as co-founder of Madison Benefits Group. In 2010, she was awarded the UH President's Medallion. The acumen and passion she brings to the board will be greatly appreciated.
Fixed Rate Tuition: In compliance with the Texas Legislature’s HB 29, the Board of Regents approved a four-year fixed rate tuition plan for all four UHS universities beginning this fall. Our plan is optional and aimed at encouraging timely graduation while keeping the cost of college predictable. Those students who wish to take longer and/or attend on a part-time basis will not be affected by this action. A similar four-year fixed tuition plan is also available to undergraduate transfer students. This is yet another valuable component in our continuing commitment to student success.
The fixed rate tuition plan at the University of Houston is part of a larger initiative, called “UH in 4,” which includes additional academic benefits and advisory support for students. All of our efforts are focused toward our commitment to student success.
If you would like more information about this, please see Fixed Rates (www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2014/February/0228Tuition.php ) and UH in 4 (www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2014/February/02262014BORUHin4.php )
Construction and Land Acquisition: In keeping with the objectives of its physical master plan, the Board of Regents made several key construction and real estate decisions. The much-needed Girard Street Parking Garage and Welcome Center at UH-Downtown was approved. Strategic acreage near our UH-Victoria campus was acquired, paving the way for expansion. And, at UH, the board endorsed essential enhancements to the Energy Research Park and the construction of a new Basketball Practice Facility.
UH-Sugar Land Transition: Finally, the board began the very necessary process of defining the Sugar Land campus’ future by accepting the recommendations of a UH-Sugar Land Task Force. The Task Force recommended that UH become the sole university offering classes at the Sugar Land campus.
The Task Force also recommended that the existing nursing program from UH-Victoria be relocated to the University of Houston’s newly created Health Science Center. The report expects the transition plan to take 2-5 years to implement and further outlines three principles on which to base any future action:
a) Students will be able to continue in their academic programs.
b) Faculty will continue to have a place in the UH System.
c) The UH System will work diligently to assist UH-Victoria with the success of its downward expansion, including financially.
By accepting the report, the board has set a direction for us. It is now our obligation to prepare a transition plan that is based on careful consideration and thoughtful deliberation. I recognize the complexity of this task since many issues, ranging from accreditation to faculty contracts, are involved. But I also believe that we have the expertise and wisdom in our system to find the right pathways as long as we embrace shared governance and remain open to new ideas. I want to assure you, particularly those of you working in Sugar Land and Victoria, that we will make this transition plan together, and we will make it with an unwavering focus on best interests of our students.
I will be putting together a transition team in the next 2-3 weeks and would appreciate your thoughts about who should serve on it. My communications team has also launched a website (www.uhsa.uh.edu/sugarlandtransition) so that you can send your feedback directly to me and to the transition team throughout this process. Your constructive input can provide the transition team with useful advice and help guide them through this formidable undertaking.
The Board of Regents faces a tremendous responsibility in overseeing the progress and welfare of the entire UH System. I believe their recent decisions reflect the wisdom and dedication they bring to that task.
I appreciate your own dedication and passion toward our common mission, student success! Have a wonderful Spring Break!
With warm regards,