Message from President Loren J. Blanchard: Strengthening Student Success
As I complete my first year as President of the University of Houston-Downtown, I have spent a great deal of time listening to students, faculty, staff and alumni. I thank you for sharing with me the extraordinary commitment you have for UHD.
I am mindful of the challenges that have been expressed during the Listening Tour regarding our organizational structure, delivery of student services and limited resources. Our conversations resulted in the development of the University’s Institutional Compass Leading to Four Points of Excellence, which I shared with you during the President’s State of the University Address this past September.
Today, I am sharing the first of several communications regarding upcoming initiatives related to the critical compass point of Student Success and Equity. The main objective of this compass point is to substantively increase the retention and graduation of UHD students, whether you come to us in your first year, as transfers, or as graduate students. We feel this charge most urgently given our mission. As a Hispanic- and Minority-Serving Institution, we know that a college education changes the lives of our students, their families, and the Houston community for the better.
In response to input from the broad range of campus and external constituents, UHD will implement the following initiatives:
- Establish a Division of Student Success and Student Life (SSSL) and hire an inaugural Vice President for SSSL. The goal of this new division is to create a comprehensive and seamless experience for students from pre-college programs through graduation and into your futures. The Vice President for SSSL will work with the Campus Community to create a more vibrant culture of collaboration, cooperation, and communication geared toward dramatically improving student success at UHD. The search for the new VP will begin in early summer, while an interim VP for SSSL will be named during the Spring 2022 semester.
- Fold University College programs into other divisions. University College has been an incubator of high-impact practices and academic programs. We will expand these programs and practices by integrating them into other Colleges at the University where they will work synergistically to more deeply impact student experiences and outcomes. All student advising — from first year through graduation — will now occur in the academic Colleges.
In the coming days, I will establish a transition team composed of faculty, staff, and students who will be charged with identifying and documenting the necessary logistics to accomplish this reorganization by the Fall 2022 semester.
I will ensure we have the required resources to strengthen our student success infrastructure, and I will communicate regularly and be transparent about our progress. Please know that it is you, as a critical member of our UHD community, who will be the most important resource as we embark on this first of many efforts to point our compass toward a new direction of excellence at the University of Houston-Downtown.
If you have any questions or feedback, please email email@example.com.
Loren J. Blanchard, Ph.D.
President, University of Houston-Downtown