Bridge Plan Leading to UHD’s Next 50 Years
By Mike Emery
The voices of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members are critical to the University of Houston-Downtown’s ongoing growth.
Those voices have shaped UHD into Houston’s second largest university, one of the most accessible in the state, and an institution that helps more and more students realize their dreams of earning degrees.
As the University approaches its half-century mark, it will depend on the insights of its closest constituents to help it meet the region’s higher education needs for its next 50 years.
Enter UHD’s Bridge Plan.
The Bridge Plan will effectively connect UHD’s existing Strategic Plan (which concludes this year) and the Beyond 50 Strategic Plan (to launch in 2024). Using the institution’s current mission, vision, and core value statements as an operational framework, the Bridge Plan will allow UHD to not only take stock of its history, accomplishments, and identity, but also to begin to articulate themes that will form the basis for the development of the comprehensive Beyond 50 planning process that will commence in 2022 and lead to the creation of a 10-year strategic plan for UHD that will be implemented in the Fall of 2014.
“The Bridge Plan allows UHD community members to reflect on what the University has accomplished in its first 50 years and what goals we should set for the next 50,” said Dr. Eric Carl Link, UHD senior vice president for Academic & Student Affairs and Provost. “The Bridge Plan takes UHD from the expiration of the current Strategic Plan to the next one in a way that allows the institution to stay focused on its mission and goals while simultaneously generating some of the key ideas that will form the basis for the comprehensive Beyond 50 plan.”
UHD community members will play key roles in the development of the Bridge Plan. Through dialogues at forums and other events (facilitated by Faculty Senate, Staff Council and Student Government Association), ideas will be shared and documented. All members of UHD’s immediate and extended family will have opportunities to participate in this initiative.
“It goes without saying that UHD…much like our city…has undergone a remarkable transformation over the decades,” said UHD President, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz in a recent message to the community. "Now, you have an opportunity to help shape UHD’s future as an institution of higher education. Share your thoughts during upcoming Bridge Plan events. Your perspectives on where UHD is now … and where it’s headed…are essential to this process.”
Helping set the Bridge Plan in motion are two committees (Strategic Planning Steering Committee and Strategic Planning Committee) and six work groups. Work groups are as follows:
- Student Access
- Student Success
- Programatic Advancement
- Research, Scholarship & Creative Activities
- External Partnerships
- Administration & Infrastructure
“Dozens upon dozens of faculty, staff and students have stepped up to serve in these work groups and committees,” Link said. “That is a testament to the energy and enthusiasm that we have at UHD.”
The Bridge Plan officially kicks off this month and will continue through seven phases over the next five years.
Provost Link reiterates the importance of community input to the planning process. Feedback in any format will drive forward both the Bridge Plan and ultimately, the Beyond 50 Strategic Plan.
“A university is more than just its current students, its current faculty, or current staff,” he said. “It’s the entire network of people impacted by the great things happening at this institution. We want alumni, supporters, donors and other friends of UHD to let their voices be heard. Bringing all of these voices to the table is very powerful and essential in setting a course for the next 50 years … if not 100 years … at UHD.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second-largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 60,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).
For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.