Campus and Community

Community Engagement Breakfast Honors Mayor Sylvester Turner

Monday, March 28, University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) hosted a Community Engagement Breakfast to recognize long-time advocate and mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, for his support of the University’s community engagement initiatives.

Held in the UHD Welcome Center, several members of the University community attended the event, including UHD faculty, students, and alumni, who are involved in STEM, prison literacy, and other community-focused ventures.

“Our UHD friend of many years, former-state-representative-now-Mayor Turner, provided many resources for community groups to engage our families and neighbors, providing opportunities for UHD faculty, staff, and students,” said Michael A. Olivas, interim UHD president.

Olivas added, “In my short time serving with all of you, I have attended many special events. Occasionally, as has begun to happen with some frequency, the event is substantive and exhilarating, and the ceremonial aspect has enabled me to be a small part of these exciting events.”

David Bradley, vice president of administration and finance, served as the master of ceremonies, and Faiza Khoja, Ph.D., associate vice president, academic affairs, also addressed the crowd. Khoja shared the University’s commitment to community engagement, and its role toward enriching scholarship, research and creative activity. Dr. Khoja explained that community engagement is aligned with scholarship, student learning, and critical thinking. Furthermore, community engagement is at the core of the University’s quality enhancement plan (QEP), a significant component of the ongoing reaccreditation process. Following her introduction, Dr. Khoja opened the floor for faculty and students to highlight current UHD initiatives.

UHD professors Sara Farris and Christine Bachman presented service learning projects:

  • Prison Literacy: Preparing incarcerated young men to take the GED
  • Freddie’s Hope Rescue Ranch: Testing two health psychology theories that could be used to change community behaviors.

UHD students Glaubyane Viana, Arturo Macedo, Stephanie Garza, and Shamsa Ali presented:

  • Inquiry-based Learning of Science in Ore-K through Fifth Graders: Spearheaded by UHD professors Maria Bhattacharjee, and Poonam Gulati Salhotra this initiative prepare teachers to teach inquiry-based science in elementary schools, develop the science application of microbiology students and engage children with science experiments.
  • Connecting UHD STEM Undergraduate Leaders to the Next Generation: Led by UHD professor Mary Jo Parker, this initiative encourages middle school-aged students to consider STEM in college and as careers; and provide opportunities for UHD STEM students to lead and motivate the school-aged students.

The event was organized by Liza Alonzo, executive director of presidential affairs.

Also funded through the community engagement grants were organizations serving Houston and the city’s Northside communities including: City of Refuge of Houston, Inc.; Elijah’s Promise; Fifth Ward Enrichment Center; Greater North Houston Youth Alliance; Inwood North Community Outreach Program; Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation; and Wonderworks.