UHD President Loren J. Blanchard Named Chair of Houston GPS Governing Council
Since its inception in 2015, the Houston Guided Pathways to Success (Houston GPS) initiative has supported the academic ambitions of students throughout the region. Led by the University of Houston, Houston GPS has assembled Houston-area colleges and universities who work in concert to ensure students graduate on time, without excess credit hours and with little debt.
Among the newest members of the Houston GPS Leadership team is University of Houston-Downtown President Loren J. Blanchard. With nearly three decades spent in higher education, President Blanchard has long worked to support student success at institutions across the nation. His experience and passion will further support Houston GPS efforts as he will now chair its Governing Council.
The council includes presidents and chancellors from Houston GPS partner institutions including UH President and UH System Chancellor Renu Khator.
Blanchard succeeds Brenda Hellyer, Chancellor of San Jacinto College District, in this role and said he is looking forward to further serving Houston GPS and students throughout the region.
“It is an honor to accept this position and to further advocate for the many students within our region seeking higher education opportunities,” Blanchard said. “I look forward to continuing to work alongside this talented group of leaders in supporting Houston GPS and its goals of providing seamless pathways from community colleges to universities … and ultimately, to bachelor’s degrees and beyond.”
Blanchard arrived at UHD in 2021 following executive roles at California State University, Xavier University, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans and the University of Louisiana System. He holds a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology from Xavier University of Louisiana, a master’s degree in Educational Administration from McNeese State University and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Georgia.
“We are looking forward to President Blanchard’s leadership and anticipate great things during his time as chair of the Houston GPS Governing Council,” said Paula Myrick Short, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at UH and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs for the UH System. “He has a proven track record for growing graduation rates and clearly recognizes the goals of Houston GPS. We are happy to have him in the UH System and are pleased that he has accepted this role within Houston GPS.”
In addition to UH and UHD, Houston GPS includes the following partner institutions: UH-Clear Lake, UH-Victoria, Prairie View A&M University, Texas Southern University, Alvin Community College, College of the Mainland, Galveston College, Houston Community College, Lone Star College System, San Jacinto College District and Wharton County Junior College. These combined institutions serve more than 300,000 students.
The initiative was launched through the support of $900,000 in grants from the Greater Texas Foundation ($300,000), Houston Endowment ($200,000), Trellis Foundation ($100,000), The Kresge Foundation ($100,000) and The Powell Foundation ($100,000).
Strategies have included academic maps, default course pathways, meta-majors, intrusive advising and more.
Additional details on Houston GPS, its Governing Counsel and partner colleges and universities can be found on the initiative’s website.
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.