13:40 PM

An Epic Collaborative Partnership: Creating New Student Pathways

By Sheryl E. Taylor

Press conference of a MOU signing between UHD and HCC. Photo by: Thomas B. Shea.University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) and Houston Community College (HCC) administrators, students, faculty and community members—more than 100 attendees—gathered, on Dec. 14, to witness a momentous occasion that will significantly improve the educational pathways for HCC and UHD students.

UHD Interim President Michael A. Olivas and HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado placed their John Hancocks on an articulation agreement aimed at creating seamless pathways designed to help students make their way from HCC to UHD; letters of intent that focus collaborations between each institution's education and nursing programs; and a letter of implementation focused on a partnership between HCC and UHD's business programs.

"The reason we're here today is to further enhance our longstanding relationship with HCC," said Olivas. "HCC is one of our largest feeder schools. Each year, we welcome hundreds of students who transfer from HCC to this University. This is big news for students. We are devoting resources to help them succeed academically-and ultimately professionally."

Those in attendance also heard from someone who knows firsthand the process of transferring from community college to a university.

"As a transfer student myself, I know how murky the process can be especially for working students which seems to be the case for many transfer students," said Mustapha Nyally, UHD Student Government Association president and former HCC student. "I believe this partnership is the exact remedy to mitigate the unavoidably difficult transfer process by providing guidance and resources to students to help them to easily navigate through their first two years of college in a timely and cost-effective fashion."

The articulation agreement addresses several components including different admission models, degree maps and UHD advisers working at HCC campuses.

The letters of intent and implementation address pathways between the institutions' nursing, education and business programs. The nursing program in particular would further connect both institutions as UHD's nursing courses will be delivered at HCC's Coleman College.

Degree maps are key to these collaborations. These maps outline required courses for different majors at both HCC and UHD. They're designed to help students avoid taking excess hours and accumulating more debt.

"We are all here because we want our students to succeed," noted Adriana Tamez, chair of HCC's Board of Trustees. "We are stronger when we work together."

Maldonado concurred and reinforced both institutions' commitment to taking the guesswork out of the higher education process and focusing more on service to the students.

"Many of us may recall the day when students had to stand in lines when they enrolled in college—one line to get their transcripts and another line to meet with the registrar," added Maldonado. "It was time consuming, frustrating and stressful. Through this agreement the burden will be minimized and help save students money. It's a great time to be at UHD and HCC."

A member of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's staff, Ivan Sanchez, Immigration and Field Representative and a UHD alum, presented Certificates of Congressional Recognition. The certificates acknowledged that the constituents of the 18th Congressional District of Texas, recognize "the historic articulation agreement is of tremendous importance between UHD and HCC for the future growth and development of Greater Houston and will be necessary for many careers in the 21st century. UHD and HCC's education, economic and civic contributions are worthy of the admiration and accommodation of the U.S. Congress."

"The partnership between HCC and UHD is a natural fit will help countless students reach the finish line," said Welcome Wilson, Jr., vice chairman of the University of Houston System Board of Regents. "One of the great benefits of my role as a Regent is to experience proud moments like this."