Congratulations, Dr. Blanchard!
Campus Community, Alumni & Friends Celebrate UHD’s Seventh President
By Sheryl E. Taylor
Months of planning, preparations, sending invitations, and capturing last-minute details culminated into the Investiture celebration, which formally inaugurated Dr. Loren J. Blanchard as UHD’s seventh president on May 24.
The daylong event began with the Investiture ceremony and continued with a BBQ luncheon on campus followed by the Alumni & Friends Celebration Dinner.
The ceremony hosted a wealth of leaders, friends and guests from across the state and nation, which included Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, UH Chancellor and President Dr. Renu Khator, University of Houston System Board of Regents Chairperson Tilman Fertitta, U.S. Representative Shelia Jackson Lee, President of the University of Detroit Mercy Dr. Antoine Gaibaldi, The Reverend Gregory Han, Dr. Robin Davidson, former Houston Poet Laureate and UHD Professor of English, Father Orrin Halepeska, musical guest Bridget Bazile, and 14 nation-wide university delegates, were in attendance.
Additionally, congratulatory videos from Texas State Senators Borris Miles, Carol Alvarado, and John Whitmire as well as Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, State Representative Mary Ann Perez, and others were featured.
“To say that I feel overwhelmed is an understatement,” said Blanchard. “Overwhelmed with gratitude. Overwhelmed with joy. Overwhelmed with optimism for all that lies ahead for the University of Houston-Downtown.”
In the academic setting, an Investiture is a formal ceremony of conferring the authority and symbols of the office upon a university president. Traditionally, such ceremonies are held at the conclusion of the president’s first year in office.
Blanchard joined on March 15, 2021. Over the past year, he has established UHD’s Institutional Compass, which is designed to chart a course for new levels of success, including strengthening justice, student success and equity, supporting institutional excellence and infrastructure, and growing as an anchor institution.
The UHD Campus Community came together for a BBQ luncheon to celebrate the momentous occasion of its newly installed president. The luncheon hosted great food from Citadel and Demeris Bar-B-Que restaurants and frozen treats from Fat Cat Creamery owned by UHD Sarah Johnston (’09).
The evening capped off with the Alumni & Friends Celebration Dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston. More than 300 guests, alumni and friends of the University were treated to a three-course meal, silent auction, and wine pull.
The Celebration Dinner honored outstanding alumni and dedicated supporters of UHD:
- Distinguished Alumna: The Honorable Paula Mendoza (’95, MBA ’17)
- Alumni Service Award: Phillip Ellison (’94)
- Alumni Entrepreneur Award: Marcus Bowers (’11)
- Alumna On The Rise: Maria Del Pilar Montes (MBA ’17)
- Distinguished Friends Of The University: Tommy Harper and Harry Gee
Laolu Davies-Yemitan ('05, MBA '22) was recognized for his dedication as Chair of the UHD Alumni Council Board and his Outstanding Service & Accomplishment to the University.
Proceeds from this special event supported the UHD Compass Points Fund—an investment in the future of UHD and its students, guided by the UHD Institutional Compass.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and 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 approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.