12:22 PM

A Note from UHD Interim President Michael A. Olivas: A Year to Remember


UHD Interim President Michael A. OlivasDear UHD Family,

First of all, Happy New Year. I hope that everyone had a restful break and is looking forward to a productive 2017.

Michael A. Olivas

I know that 2016 was a topsy-turvy year. We lost many beloved figures in the arts, civil rights, sports and other disciplines. Also, our country experienced heated political races that left many of us emotionally exhausted. Many colleagues and friends told me that they were glad to see the year come to a close.

I will admit that it was a wild, unpredictable year. Still, 2016 had many great moments - especially, here at UHD.

Before we departed for Winter Break, the "Houston Business Journal" ranked our Master of Business Administration program as the largest in the area for the second consecutive year. A few weeks prior, we were notified that UHD successfully completed its reaccreditation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Typically, institutions are reaccredited and provided with guidance regarding areas needing improvement. When all was said and done, UHD maintained its accreditation with no recommendations from SACSCOC. This is a very big deal; and I applaud everyone who contributed to our reaccreditation efforts including interim provost Ed Hugetz and Faiza Khoja, associate vice president for academic affairs. UHD also closed out its Direct Student Loan Program with the U.S. Department of Education.

The University also was ranked as the third safest university in the country by College Choice. And UHD's online programs were recognized among the best in the state. Additionally, this institution was designated a Military Friendly School for its service to both veterans and students serving our country.

We also did extremely well in many internal and University of Houston System audits including reviews of our IT security and emergency management processes. Regarding emergency management, we can't forget our quick response to last summer's fire. Fortunately, the campus did not sustain significant damage and no one was injured. We learned a few things and followed up with an evacuation drill in October. Practice makes perfect, and we'll continue working to ensure the safety of the campus community.

Of course, I have to mention our big land purchase that will be a game changer for UHD and future generations of students. Also, we opened our Welcome Center, which has become a wonderful site for community events and the place to be in Downtown Houston for special events — political debates, scholarly conferences, movies, and cultural gatherings. On some days, there's almost too much to take in, but it's just another sign of the UHD times.

These are only a few of our campus highlights, but 2016 was indeed a year to remember at UHD. Let's look ahead to 2017. We have a legislative session around the corner and a new semester is upon us. Let's dwell only on our successes from last year, and use them to inspire further excellence.

Thanks to everyone for making last year special for UHD … and for me.