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.”
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.