16:20 PM

Observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day

A Message From President Loren J. Blanchard


Gator Community,

On Monday, our nation will commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The great civil rights leader’s messages of love, tolerance, and nonviolent behavior continue to inspire our hopes and dreams for an equitable and peaceful society. Certainly, Dr. King’s powerful “I Have a Dream” speech, spoken from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, remains relevant almost 60 years later, including his immortal words, “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”

Those words, in particular, resonate with me as I think about UHD and the role we play in our city, our state, our nation, our world. We are a community of diverse students, faculty, and staff. We come together almost daily to foster innovation, imagination, and knowledge generation in an urban environment. We are a supportive and caring community, believing in and working toward a just and sustainable future. Indeed, as Dr. King so eloquently beseeched us to do, we seek justice and the solid rock of unity.

That historic speech all those years ago helped galvanize the civil rights movement and brought the plight of the disenfranchised to a larger national and international audience. Although the ideals that Dr. King espoused sometimes seem elusive, these famous words “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope” have never been as meaningful as they are today.

Here at UHD, service to others remains our hallmark as we strive for a better tomorrow. GatorServe is a UHD tradition that brings together UHD students, faculty, staff, friends, families, and community partners to complete projects in service to our neighbors. We do this twice a year – in remembrance of 9/11 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This year, GatorServe will recognize the MLK National Day of Service on Saturday, January 14, and volunteers will meet at Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Houston SPCA), 7007 Old Katy Rd., from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., to help make a difference in the lives of animals. Donations of newspaper, pet beds, litter boxes, towels, and blankets may be dropped off at UHD’s One Main Building S417 in advance or to the GatorServe event on January 14. On this MLK National Day of Service, let us join together in memory of Dr. King and in service to animals that require human intervention for their care and survival.

Monday, January 16, is the national MLK holiday, and the UHD campus will be closed on that day in memory of his legacy. Upon the invitation of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, I look forward to joining other area educational leaders on the Superintendents Float at the Annual Black Heritage Society Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade. I hope to see my fellow Gators along the parade route as we recognize, sustain, and keep Dr. King’s dream alive.

The following day, Tuesday, January 17, is the first day of classes for our Spring Semester 2023. May you return to campus rested, recharged, and ready for a productive and fulfilling semester! I look forward to seeing you at one or more of the activities planned for UHD’s Week of Welcome as we come together as a community prepared to take on the challenges of a new year.

Go, Gators!


Loren J. Blanchard, Ph.D.
President, University of Houston-Downtown

About the University of Houston-Downtown

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.