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Roadmap to the Future: Success Under ‘A New Paradigm’

This article is the first in a series on the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan: A New Paradigm.

In September 2021, UHD’s Strategic Planning Committee—24 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community representatives—set off on a journey to chart the University’s path to becoming a model urban university for the next 20 years.

Like most journeys, this one was made smoother with the use of a compass—UHD President Loren J. Blanchard’s Institutional Compass, which serves as the University’s directional guide.

The Compass’ Four Points of Excellence—Strengthening Justice, Empowering Student Success and Equity, Supporting Institutional Excellence and Infrastructure, and Growing as an Anchor Institution— provided both a foundation and a direction for the Strategic Planning Committee’s work.

The team was also charged with reviewing UHD’s Mission and Vision statements to ensure they align with the Institutional Compass and reflect the New Paradigm. Blanchard noted that the Mission successfully “honors our diversity, reaffirms our commitment to nurture talent and generate knowledge, and emphasizes our moral responsibility to foster socioeconomic mobility for a just and sustainable future.”

Throughout the committee’s deliberations, the concept of a public, urban institution was critical, and there was much debate about including “for Houstonians” in the Vision Statement—was it too limiting in scope? In the end, the committee recognized that the role of a public, urban university is to serve the city and region and the people who live there.

Read the new Mission and Vision statements online.

Stakeholder Perspectives

Ultimately, the Mission and Vision Statements and strategic plan were a culmination and distillation of the committee’s research and discussions with numerous stakeholders. The entire project involved road-testing ideas with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members all along the way.

“We wanted an open, transparent process that included significant stakeholder input,” said committee member Dr. Liza Alonzo, Assistant Vice President for Presidential Affairs and Constituent Relations (left). Alonzo helped connect the team with the business community, alumni, and others.liza-alonzo

“We knew we needed to build strong partnerships with local businesses, agencies, K-12 schools, and individuals,” said Alonzo. “This process is about co-creating student success with our community partners. We want them to know that we are an institution that serves public purposes.”

The student perspective was a key component of the process. Chemistry major Mahalia Ogude served on the committee as a student champion. “A university’s strategic plan is one of the most integral parts of securing the future success of the students and the University as a whole,” said Ogude. “The opportunity to have a platform to represent the student body openly, to bring awareness to issues that hinder student success, and to incorporate solutions to student concerns in every part of the planning process has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career. I am honored to have represented the student voice in the process.”

The committee’s work resulted in seven Strategic Goals that represent UHD’s most critical priorities for the next five years: 

  • Optimize Lifelong Student Success
  • Cultivate More Strategic Partnerships
  • Create a Dynamic Academic Environment
  • Engage Faculty and Staff
  • Design Sustainable Operations
  • Elevate UHD’s Visibility and Recognition
  • Promote Impactful Knowledge Creation

On Your Mark. Get Set. Go.

Over the last several months, the real implementation of the strategic plan has begun. Each goal has a team of faculty and staff led by a designated strategy leader who takes responsibility for the goal over five years, working to transform that goal into action. The action plan includes objectives for making progress toward the goal, barriers to achieving the goal, strategies for overcoming the barriers, deliverables, and measures by which progress will be assessed. 

The ultimate success of A New Paradigm will be Student Success. What does student success mean for UHD? It means graduation and meaningful job placement with the opportunity for socioeconomic mobility to have an impact on generations to come. UHD’s persistence for excellence in ensuring Student Success ignites the vision for the future of UHD and the future of UHD students. The University has determined the goals, drawn the roadmap, and set out on a journey. Together with the larger Houston community, the UHD campus community will arrive at a place that is sustainable, just, and filled with possibility.

To read a full copy of the plan and for more details on the process, visit the strategic plan website.