As UHD Interim President Michael A. Olivas notes in his previous Skyline message, 2016 was a year of growth and change for the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD). Skyline takes a nostalgic look at the University’s best moments of 2016 that remind us of why Gators push the limits in academics and community engagement while nurturing the University’s brand.
From 10 to 1, here’s UHD’s year in review:
10. UHD Arts in National Spotlight
Two UHD professors made national headlines last year that put the University on the map. UHD Art Professor Floyd Newsum’s painting, “After the Strom CNN,” is featured the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington D.C. Newsums’ accomplishment was covered by several news outlets including KTRK ABC13. Daniel Peña, an assistant professor of English, earned a Pushcart Prize in Fiction for the short story “Safe Home.” As a result of this honor, he was named among Houston’s Most Fascinating People of 2016 by the Houston Chronicle.
For the second consecutive year, UHD’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program was ranked the largest in the city by the Houston Business Journal. UHD held the top spot—with 1,067 students—in the publication’s annual round-up of “Largest Houston-Area MBA Programs.” Offered through the College of Business, the University’s MBA program continues to attract professionals seeking to advance their careers to the next level.
Houston Community College (HCC) and UHD have long enjoyed a strong, collaborative relationship. For decades, countless students have earned associate’s degrees at HCC and continued their academic journeys at UHD. The signing of an articulation agreement aimed at creating seamless pathways for students transferring from HCC to UHD was conducted on Dec. 14. The articulation agreement addresses several components including different admission models, degree maps and UHD embedded advisers working at HCC campuses.
This past year, UHD faculty, staff and administrators collaborated to completely reengineer the entire onboarding process for new students. As a result of their efforts, incoming UHD freshmen will begin their college careers in an entirely new way. ‘UHD2020’ is designed to provide students with every opportunity to excel and succeed at UHD — including aligning talents and interest with academic and career goals and reinforcing positive behaviors.
#GatorCity is growing. Last year, UHD purchased 17 acres of land just north of the One Main Building that will be the site of a new Science and Technology Building and other vital components of the Campus Master Plan. This marks a major step in UHD’s efforts to expand its footprint in Houston.
Located in One Main Building on level 3, the 26,000-square-foot facility provides streamlined services and resources to UHD students. The new center houses a tour room, seminar rooms and student services offices, creating an integrated and striking impression for new and current students. The O’Kane Gallery also relocated to the new area, giving artists nearly three times the space the current gallery occupies. The new center includes Academic Admissions, Testing Services, Disabled Student Services and Veterans Services, enabling prospective and current students to access resources in a single convenient location.
The reaffirmation of accreditation process for universities is an extensive, often painstaking process. In the end, it’s well worth the effort to ensure that institutions of higher learning are effectively serving its students and communities. After two long years of collecting data and undergoing evaluations, UHD completed its reaccreditation requirements for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). That was reason enough to celebrate, but UHD also completed this process with no recommendations from SACSCOC—a major achievement for the University.
In Feb. 2016, Michael A. Olivas joined the University of Houston-Downtown as its interim president. Since then, he has led UHD through a successful year and focused his energies on deepening the relationship between the institution and the community. In just a year, he’s presided over three commencement ceremonies, hosted a staff appreciation event and provided invaluable insights to the UHD community.
Thousands of family, friends, and loved ones attended the 60th and 61st commencement ceremonies for UHD students. On May 15, UHD graduated more than 1,200 students at its 60thcommencement ceremony. On Dec. 17, UHD graduated more than 1,300 students at its 61st commencement ceremony at Minute Maid Park. On Dec. 18, UHD’s College of Business celebrated more than 200 graduates, who earned Master of Business Administration and Master of Security Management degrees, at the Bayou City Event Center.
Following a nationwide search, Juan Sánchez Muñoz emerged as the sole finalist for the position of UHD President. Muñoz met the campus community during one of the public forums that welcomed presidential candidates to campus. He is currently the vice provost for undergraduate education and student affairs, and senior vice president for institutional diversity, equity, and community engagement at Texas Tech University.