UHD Freshmen Welcomed to Campus During Gator Gateway
By Mike Emery
The fall semester has yet to begin, but freshmen are already attending lectures and meeting with professors at the University of Houston Downtown.
UHD’s Gator Gateway is providing a preview of college life for incoming freshmen. This four-day orientation focuses on familiarizing First Time in College Students (FTICs) with a new learning environment and introducing them to the campus.
Gator Gateway is mandatory for all freshmen and helps promote success for these FTICs during their first (and very critical) academic year at UHD. It also helps ensure they start off their academic journeys on the right foot.
“We’re proud that you selected UHD as your university,” said UHD President, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz while meeting College of Sciences & Technology (CST) freshmen during Gator Gateway. “Look around this city, and you’ll see the many outstanding graduates from this university. They include leaders in law enforcement, education, business, science, technology and other industries. Before you realize it, you will be among them and doing great things for our community.”
Gator Gateway began July 8 welcoming freshmen from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. During the next few weeks, students from other UHD colleges will have their own Gator Gateway experience. This week, CST students are on campus and soon, Gator Gateway welcomes students from the College of Public Service (July 22 – 25); Marilyn Davies College of Business (July 28 – Aug. 1); and University College (Aug. 5 – 8). Approximately 1,300 freshmen are expected to participate in Gator Gateway this year.
According to Eugene Bernard, director of Student Transitions and UHD’s Welcome Center, Gator Gateway helps freshmen understand what to expect when they arrive to the University. Likewise, it helps these new Gators understand what’s expected of them as students.
“It’s like a prequel of the actual university experience,” he said. “The current generation of students likes to ‘see it, touch it and feel it’ before actually experiencing it. They want to be ready, and Gator Gateway does exactly that. It really prepares them for their first semester at a university.”
During Gator Gateway, students attend lectures led by UHD faculty, providing a sample of what awaits them in the classroom. They also meet college deans and advisers and hear from UHD leadership, including President Muñoz and others. Other activities are designed to help students navigate the campus, particularly the areas occupied by their respective colleges.
Among the most important aspects of Gator Gateway is that the four-day experience allows students to form early bonds with their future classmates.
“By the fourth day, we’re able to see that students are making friends,” Bernard said. “They participate in team building exercises that help build camaraderie. They’re able to connect with each other and build early friendships, which are very helpful for students arriving at a new university.”
Gator Gateway complements other initiatives aimed at helping students prepare for the fall semester and learning about UHD. Other events include Gator Ready, a one-day program in which FTICs register for courses, learn about financial aid opportunities and learn about different majors. Events aimed at transfer students include Gator Preview, which partners UHD with community colleges to offer information on the transfer process and applying to UHD. Likewise, Gator Preview Live, a webcast, shares insights from each of the colleges and shares details on the transfer process.
“When these students arrive on the first day of school, they’ll see familiar faces and know where classrooms and offices are,” Bernard said. “It will feel like home to them.”
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.