UHD Staff Profile: Assistant Dean of Students Branston Harris
By Mark Kramer
For University of Houston-Downtown Assistant Dean of Students Branston Harris, it's second nature to be involved.
It’s not uncommon to see him making his daily rounds on campus — sharply dressed in his vintage royal blue bowtie — visiting with students in the hallways of the One Main Building or the UHD Food Court. You’ll also find him rolling up his sleeves and participating in a number of student-oriented events such as UHD’s Week of Welcome that kicked off the fall semester.
“No day is ever the same, but the one constant on most days is taking a stroll around One Main and engaging in conversations and stopping by one of the many events happening campus,” Harris said. “I feel like taking the time to have meaningful conversations with our students really lets them know how much we care.”
The San Antonio native’s "getting-involved" qualities were evident during his teenage years at Dillard McCollum High School where he graduated from its Magnet School for Leadership and Public Service. He was active in band, choir and all athletics. Harris didn’t stop there — he played football and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Texas State University in 2010 followed by a master’s in Higher Education Administration from the University of Houston.
Prior to Harris’ arrival as the Assistant Dean of Students in November 2020, he served in numerous positions providing support to students at the Texas A&M University-Galveston, including Housing Coordinator, Manager of Orientation& Student Engagement and Assistant Director of Community Standards.
“One of the things I love most about UHD is the opportunity to engage our students where they are,” Harris said. “I value being in a position to assist them through their collegiate journey and leaving them inspired and empowered after any interaction that I have with them.”
In his UHD position, Harris manages student conduct issues, counseling and health services, and addressing students in crisis and connecting students to appropriate resources. To that end, he looks to build trust among the UHD student community.
“I believe the work that I do adds to our students’ ability to navigate college,” he said. “Taking the time to address questions and concerns and offering assistance allows me to make a direct impact on their lives.”
Harris said that mentoring to students is something that comes naturally.
“I always try to find a way to assist those around me in any way I can,” he added. “My goal is to try my best to make sure that the individuals I mentor are better than when I first met them and leave them with the ability to empower themselves and others.”
Harris said the main reason he chose to join UHD is its spirit of community.
“I love the fact that so many individuals are invested in making sure our students succeed inside the classroom and beyond,” he said. “The spirit of our campus community is truly felt in the determination of our students, the work ethic of our employees and how we are all a committed part of the Gator Family.”
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.