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President’s Report to the Community 2020


By Mark Kramer

It has been a busy 84 days for UHD Interim President Antonio D. Tillis, Ph.D.

Tillis reflected on the past year’s highlights, the resiliency of students, faculty and staff and UHD’s future plans during the President’s Report to the Community on Sept. 24. Streamed live on UHD’s Facebook page, the event was moderated by former ABC13 Vice President of Community Affairs and longtime reporter Cynthia Cisneros.

“I have quickly developed a deep connection with this University, its culture and its mission within our region,” Tillis said.

Tillis said he sees faculty, staff and students who are ready to roll up their sleeves and help one another as a true community to get the job done.

“You’ve worked incredibly hard to get this semester started despite many challenges. We’ve come a long way, but there is still more work to do,” he said. “Given what I have seen from our Gator Family, I have no doubt that we indeed will get the job done, together.”

Record Enrollment

Tillis shared how UHD reached an enrollment milestone for the Fall semester.

“Our student population is stronger than ever and especially at a time when other universities’ enrollments are down,” Tillis emphasized. “This was truly a team effort that extends beyond the stellar job of our Enrollment Management, Admissions, Advising, and Financial Aid teams. Everyone had a hand in getting to this number.”

UHD Earns National Recognition

During Tillis’ address, he mentioned how UHD’s programs have received national recognition, including the second consecutive time the University has earned the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award (HEED) from “Insight into Diversity” magazine. The award recognizes UHD’s multiple diversity initiatives that support its students, faculty, and staff, which will be spotlighted in the publication’s November issue.

Tillis also spotlighted recent grants to UHD from the National Institute of Health and National Foundation.

Additionally, he acknowledged the University’s U.S. News & World Report rankings for its online programs (Undergraduate Programs, Master of Science in Criminal Justice) and its recognition as a Top Performer for Social Mobility.

“A nod from U.S. News & World Report is noteworthy and reflects our institution’s pedagogical versatility and ability to deliver quality instruction across multiple modalities,” Tillis said. “As our students can attest, our professors have done exactly that during this pandemic.”

Presidential Initiatives

Interim President Tillis also outlined several Presidential Initiatives that will be launched soon. Among these is the recently appointed Diversity Task Force. Upcoming initiatives include a Faculty Diversity Initiative, Special Initiative Funding for Students and Faculty, new student internships and a Visiting Scholars Initiative.

“I must remind everyone that it takes all of us working together to get through the turbulence of today to emerge as a stronger institution,” said President Tillis. “At UHD, we welcome understanding … not intolerance; dialogue … not discrimination; and inclusion … not insolence. We also encourage our community to learn and work with us … no matter your age, race, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, gender or sexual orientation. UHD is united with Houston as a center for true diversity and inclusivity.”

New Facilities

Tillis also touted campus growth, including the upcoming Student Wellness & Success Center and the latest addition to campus, the College of Sciences & Technology, which recently won a Houston Business Journal Landmark Award in the Education category.

“The footprint of the University of Houston-Downtown is changing and people are taking note of our growth,” Tillis said. “Each day, thousands of Houstonians who travel along Main Street see the impact UHD is having on the city’s creative landscape.”

Activism in Action

With ongoing social and racial strife affecting communities across the nation, Tillis’ applauded UHD’s many centers and departments focused on promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. He specifically cited the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, Center for Critical Race Studies, Lab for Equity in Action, and SynergIE in Natural Sciences. He also spotlighted several faculty authors who contributed texts addressing issues of immigration, race and identity.

History Making UHD Here We Go Campaign

UHD’s growth is made possible thanks to the support of community members who believe in its mission. As a result of their generosity, the University exceeded its $25 million goal for the “UHD Here We Go Campaign” with a history-making $32 million.

Opening New Doors for Gators

Tillis concluded his report with a quote from author Miguel de Cervantes.“Donde una puerta se cierra, otra se abre,” he said. “Those are the words of great author and storyteller Miguel de Cervantes. Translated … "When one door closes, another one opens. The pandemic has indeed closed many doors within our community, but UHD continues to find new gateways to overcome adversity … achieve success … and support our students.”

Featured Speakers

Following Tillis’ address, several other UHD leaders were featured including Eric Carl Link, Provost & Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs; Dr. Ronald Beebe, Faculty Senate President; Lalou Davies-Yemitan, Chairman, UHD Alumni Council; Alan Modrow, Student Government Association President and Bobbi Shaw, Staff Council President. The event concluded with a rendition of the “UHD Alma Mater” by UHD Police Department’s Stephen Vega.

The President’s Report to the Community is now available in its entirety here.

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.