President Blanchard Welcomed Faculty Views in Listening Tour
By Sam Byrd
Three weeks into University of Houston-Downtown President Loren J. Blanchard’s Listening Tour, and two months into his taking office, he has kept his promise to listen and learn from the University Community. Having attended a series of meetings in April focusing on student thoughts, ideas and visions for the University, he has now sought out feedback from faculty.
President Blanchard attended two sessions recently with faculty – one in-person meeting on May 6 and one via ZOOM on May 13.
“If we take seriously the business of operating a high-quality urban higher education enterprise that is connected to our city’s needs and development, we need to learn more about who we are and positioned to become to ensure that our University remains a living, thriving beacon of promise for the students and community we serve. Faculty are key ambassadors for what UHD stands for in this city, state and nation. The time faculty have spent here equips them to know best the practices and policies that benefit as well as undermine the University’s overall well-being,” he said.
Facilitated by Dr. Creshema Murray, Associate Professor of Corporate Communication and Special Assistant to the Office of the President, and Dr. Liza Alonzo, Director of Events and Alumni Relations, the discussions focused on four main questions:
- As a member of the UHD community, what do you like best about the University?
- If you could make one sweeping change today at UHD, what would it be?
- If we could rally all people on campus toward one goal, what should that be?
- As we look to the future, what is the biggest threat to UHD’s growth, success and reputation?
Faculty in attendance offered honest responses to these questions. Among reasons faculty enjoy working for UHD, they mentioned the student body’s diversity and uniqueness, the close-knit connections between faculty and students, a shared commitment to the University’s mission, and the relationships between UHD and the community.
Faculty also shared concerns in areas such as UHD’s role within the UH System, merit increases, leadership, course loads and research.
President Blanchard ensured faculty that their participation in the Listening Tour has been helpful. “I thank the faculty for all they shared with me. I want to benefit from hearing both the problems and the opportunities. The comments are not falling on deaf ears. I don’t believe in talking the talk. I believe in walking the walk, and that will be demonstrated throughout my interactions with the campus community thanks to what I’m learning during the Listening Tour,” he summarized.
After the Listening Tour concludes, President Blanchard will hold a town hall style meeting to share what he has learned as well as to discuss the Listening Tour’s influence on future decisions.
The Listening Tour runs through early June, with several additional dates for students (May 26), staff (June 3 and 8) and the UHD Community (May 18) to attend. More information about attending these sessions is available online.
Anyone unable to join the forums may share comments and thoughts via an online survey.