UHD’s Legislative Agenda Shared at Virtual Day at the Capitol
By Mark Kramer
The setting may have been different than in previous years, but the presentation of the University of Houston-Downtown’s legislative agenda remains an important opportunity to make the needs of the institution known and to seek the support of elected officials.
Unable to travel to the State Capitol due to COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday, March 25, UHD leaders shared the University's Legislative Agenda and University of Houston System (UHS) priorities via Zoom during UHD’s Virtual Day at the Capitol. Over 120 faculty, staff, students and alumni joined the virtual event to hear from legislators and university leadership.
Engaging with legislators were UHD President Loren J. Blanchard, University of Houston System Chancellor Renu Khator, UH System Regent Jack Moore, UH System Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations Jason Smith and UHD Student Government Association President Alan Modrow. The event was moderated by Lalou Davies-Yemitan, Chairman of the UHD Alumni Council Board.
State leaders participating in the event included State Senators Carol Alvarado and John Whitmire, as well as State Representative Christina Morales.
“We appreciate our Texas Legislature and your support of the University of Houston-Downtown,” said President Blanchard. “As this legislative session progresses, we are seeking your help as we work together to make a difference in the lives of our students.”
To that end, one of UHD’s priority items for this legislative session includes a request for authorization to issue bonds to finance the construction and/or redevelopment of multiple campus spaces, including:
- Construction of the long-planned second occupied floor for the Girard Street Building, which will provide space to consolidate academic support services.
- Construction a new UHD police station to improve safety and security at the campus.
- Repurposing of 120,000 square feet of the One Main Building, to support a wide range of student success initiatives.
- Renovation of the current Student Life Center, after the new Wellness & Success Center has been completed, to become a Student Union.
Sen. Whitmire made clear that he agrees about the need for expansion on the UHD campus.
“This is one of the most dynamic, fastest-growing universities in the Houston area,” said Whitmire. “The construction of the new Student Wellness and Success Center is a prime example of the exciting things happening at UHD. We must address the needs represented by this type of project. This Wellness Center will benefit UHD students for years to come.”
UHD and UHS leaders also are proposing legislative support of the TEXAS Grant, which provides direct grants to students and helps to make higher education affordable for low-and middle-income Texas families. “We believe that the legislature should prioritize funding for these state grants, which are awarded directly to students,” Chancellor Khator said. “We need to do all that we can do to support their pursuit of a university education.”
UHD also is requesting restoration of the five percent reduction in general revenue appropriations proposed for 2022-2023, which would require UHD to reduce its general revenue-related expenditures by approximately $200,000 over the biennium.
Sen. Alvarado closed out UHD’s Virtual Day event by saying, “UHD is truly a reflection of our community. It is a very diverse campus with students and faculty that take pride in this University. We encourage the students and the community to reach out to us and help us better understand your needs. We are here to help.”
You may watch the UHD Day at the Capitol event in its entirety, by visiting our YouTube page.
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.