UHD renamed to quell confusion
In an effort to distinguish itself from other UH System branches, UH-Downtown administrators have officially decided the university will undergo a name change, despite facing opposition from students and faculty.
‘It helps when you’re able to distinguish yourself to donors because they give to people and things they’re interested in,’ said Sue Davis, executive director of public affairs for UHD.
The Systems Board of Regents passed a resolution on Dec. 16 that requested UHD’s name be changed.’
The issue has come before the board before, but was always set aside in lieu of more pressing business. UHD President Max Castillo has lobbied to rename the university since the beginning of his presidency, which is now in its fifth and final year.’ ‘
‘There was a different leadership and chancellor at the time,’ Davis said. ‘But it’s something (Castillo) has thought about many times, and now since he’s getting ready to retire it’s something he wanted to address again.’
Though Castillo will be stepping down from his administrative position, Davis said that the president plans to remain involved with UHD affairs.
The UHD Web site lists reasons for name change, the first of which being the necessity of distinguishing itself from the University of Houston’s main campus.’
‘UHD is a separate university with its own budget, admission requirements, degree programs and tuition-and-fee structure.’
The similarity between the names of the two schools has led to confusion when it comes to potential donors. Those who mistakenly associate UHD for the main campus branch think that by giving to UH, they are also benefiting UHD.
‘When we go to foundations, we hear ‘we’ve already given” Davis said.’ ‘But they gave to the University of Houston and don’t realize there’s a separate organization they could consider donating to.’
Mix-ups also occur when students apply for admission. Davis said some students think that admission to the University of Houston Downtown means they will also be able to attend the University of Houston main campus.
‘Some people think it is a location where University of Houston main campus conducts classes,’ Davis said. ‘The Board of Regents realized the confusion creates difficulties for students.’
UHD officials think this confusion keeps UHD from receiving the benefits and recognition for achievements of its faculty, staff and students.
However, not everyone is on board with the name change.
In an interview with the Houston Chronicle’s Jeannie Kever, UHD business senior Chris Lewis said that the university should have disclosed plans for the name change on his application.
‘I’ve yet to find a person who thinks the name change is a good idea,’ Lewis said.
Lewis has started a Facebook group of students against the name change. The group has more than 130 student members.
Officials at the school have heard the complaints but still believe a name change is necessary for the growing university.
‘As schools grow and change they consider name changes.’ When Southwest Texas changed its name to Texas State, they met with considerable opposition.’ But if you talk to alumni who were students during the change they say as time progressed they saw it was a good decision,’ Davis said.
Before resorting to a new name, Davis said UHD employed other marketing strategies to make its independence apparent to no avail. University administrators find that many people tend to consider everything inside the Loop downtown.
‘People stop listening after they hear the University of Houston. It’s not clear it’s a distinctive institution,’ Davis said.’ ‘While we’ve tried other things, people stop reading and listening when they get to the last word – Downtown – they just don’t see it, they just don’t hear it.’