UHD Posts Record Enrollment of 15,251 for Fall 2020
By Mike Emery
Despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, Houston’s second largest university is becoming even larger.
For the third consecutive year, the University of Houston-Downtown has grown its enrollment. As of the 20th day of Fall 2020, UHD has a record 15,251 students enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate courses. This total represents a 4.2 percent increase in UHD’s total headcount and a 4.7 percent increase in semester credit hours (SCH) — with a total of 145,000 SCH recorded for fall.
Fall enrollment also includes nearly 1,500 First Time in College Students (FTICs), UHD’s largest freshman class. The number of graduate students also increased to 1,576, a 4.8 percent increase from 2019.
“During a time of uncertainty, one thing is very clear. More Houstonians are selecting UHD as their university of choice,” said UHD Interim President Antonio D. Tillis, Ph.D. “Achieving this milestone enrollment was indeed a team effort. Now, we must work together to make sure these students successfully navigate the complexities of balancing higher education with the many challenges the pandemic has brought to our region.”
Enrollment gained momentum during the summer sessions as classes remained online during COVID-19. Students gravitated to the online courses and UHD’s summer enrollment increased by more than 20 percent from Summer 2019.
“The fact that more students than ever are choosing to attend UHD is an indication that the value of a strong UHD education continues to grow, and we look forward to providing a great university experience, and a quality education, to every student, every day, regardless of whether the current pandemic remains active in our region of the country or not,” said Dr. Eric Carl Link, UHD Senior Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs and Provost. “That’s our commitment to every student at UHD.”
The summer months also provided current and prospective students with many opportunities to prepare for Fall 2020 as the University hosted many virtual town hall events addressing topics such as registering for classes and financial aid. Additionally, UHD hosted its annual Gator Gateway orientation for freshmen completely online this year. The four-week event connected students with representatives from Financial Aid, Advising, UHD’s Registrar, the Gator Success Center and Career Services. Likewise, they attended lectures led by UHD faculty members.
"A large part of UHD's enrollment success had to do with how the University adapted to changes during this pandemic. The staff and faculty worked hard to make sure we did not lose any momentum in recruiting, advising, and helping students,” said Dr. Jimmy Jung, UHD Vice President of Enrollment Management.
Complementing these initiatives were the efforts of UHD Technology Services and the Office of Student Affairs. Together, the departments continue to provide equipment to support students’ online learning. More than 300 students have been provided with items such as web cams, desktop computers and other devices necessary for online or hybrid classes.
UHD also offers students the Keep on Teaching & Learning web portal that provides them a convenient site with access to online learning resources, COVID-19 updates, important details on the fall semester and training materials for platforms such as Zoom and Blackboard (both widely used by faculty and students at UHD).
This support has no doubt been helpful to students during what is a very unique fall semester. The majority of fall courses (80 percent) remain online. Select classes, however, are being conducted through face-to-face, hybrid and online interactive (with some students in the classroom and others engaged online) modalities. All in-person courses are being conducted in classrooms that have been modified for appropriate distancing.
“UHD is a vibrant community that works to ensure students are ready for the college experience,” Tillis said. “We do this by providing them with many services and resources. Most importantly, faculty and staff are available for guidance and mentorship. Our Gators are not only prepared for the rigors of university curriculum, they are provided with the support needed to succeed academically … and ultimately, professionally.”
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.