16:44 PM

New ‘Virtual Lobby’ Allows Quicker, Easier Access to Student Facing Offices


By Mark Kramer

A new and convenient way to access student facing departments is literally at anyone’s fingertips.

Welcome to the University of Houston-Downtown’s Virtual Lobby.

Launched by the Office of the Provost, the Lobby provides a centralized location for students to access services and schedule appointments without having to come to campus. The lobby gives students the ability to make appointments as well as enter virtual offices where they can meet live with staff members from Student Services, Student Support, Campus Life, Information Technology and the five UHD colleges. Meetings with these offices are conducted via Zoom or other online platforms.

The Virtual Lobby hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday - Friday.

If students need further assistance with their requests, a form also is provided on the lobby’s webpage that may be filled out and responses sent by the next business day.

“We wanted to create a one-stop-shop for students to easily access the resources they may need to be successful,” said Dr. Eric Carl Link, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs & Provost. “The lobby also provides faculty and staff with a place to direct students for assistance. We wanted to make things as easy, transparent and accessible as possible.”

The Virtual Lobby was originally created in response to the pandemic. However, it also is designed to meet the needs of UHD’s growing commuter population.

“With the increasing engagement via distance learning, and better technology platforms, we anticipate ongoing use of virtual resources, like this lobby, at UHD even beyond the pandemic,” Link noted. “This platform is a great example of collaboration among offices and departments at UHD and how faculty and staff work together to ensure the success of our students.”

The launch of the project was led by the Office of the Provost Project Team, under the direction of Lucy Bowen, Executive Director of Academic & Student Affairs. The team handled the website set-up and design while offices and departments across Academic & Student Affairs provided the content for their lobby pages.

Natalie Boehm, Assistant Director of Academic & Student Affairs and member of the Office of the Provost Project Team, noted that the Virtual Lobby has been well received by the students.

“As we move to fully online courses for the remainder of the semester, we see the lobby becoming even more useful,” she said. “We welcome any feedback to help us make this a go-to resource for our students.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

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 61,000 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 awarded UHD 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.