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Monday, October 2, 2023


UH concerns, goals addressed at Town Hall

Community advancement is one of the six goals the UH System Board of Regents set for the University in November.

In the first day of the University’s four-day town hall meeting, faculty, staff and students commented on and critiqued UH plans for community advancement.

The Strategic Action Group, appointed by UH System Chancellor President Renu Khator, drafts proposals for each of the University’s goals.

‘We are not here to reinvent the wheel, to not create work that didn’t need to be done, but rather to capitalize what was already in place; recognizing full well that we are already a community engaged institution,’ SAG committee chair Lynn Maher said Tuesday at the town hall meeting in the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

The SAG’s community advancement proposal outlines six objectives, which include creating a community based-learning course and developing a strategic marketing campaign to highlight the discoveries, activism and accomplishments at UH.

Faculty and staff at the meeting voiced concerns about possible oversights in the SAG’s proposal.

When the floor was opened to questions, concern over the steps the University was taking to meet needs of its grounds-keeping and dining service arose.

Maher said it was not the SAG’s job to answer questions regarding the issue.

‘Our job is not to answer those (on-campus workforce) questions, but to develop a plan to help answer those questions, and when there is a question, you have somewhere to find the answer for it,’ Maher said.

She said the community advancement project mission is to investigate how the campus can address needs of both the UH community and communities outside campus.

The SAG’s funding was the concern of several attendees.

Despite having a community advancement proposal drafted, the SAG does not know what its budget will be to see it through.

‘We don’t know that yet because our job was to come up with a plan with bold and broad ideas in the absence of finances,’ Robert B. Johnson, associate director of the UH Law Center and SAG committee member, said.

The community advancement SAG is made of faculty staff from the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, the Graduate School of Social Work, the UH Law Center, the College of Education, the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and the Office of Undergraduate Discovery Programs.

With one of the SAG’s objectives being to develop a strategic marketing campaign, its members were asked why the University’s expert marketing faculty is not in the SAG.

‘This group was mostly faculty in different positions and there was no particular reason for (marketing faculty) not to be involved,’ Maher said.

Rebecca E. Lee, College of Education director and SAG committee member, said the SAG committee was not formed to find the solution to the University’s community engagements, but more to identify the questions therein.

‘We know we have this great community advancement. We know we have a lot going on, but we’re not sure what to do with that. This committee was to make some recommendations,’ Lee said.

The SAG committee recognizes the community advancement proposal as a first step toward improving UH community advancement, Maher said.

‘One of the things that makes me so happy about this discussion is this is the side of the coin where the action takes place,’ Executive Associate to the President James E.

Anderson said. ‘Our challenge as an institution is to learn to accept the philosophy that the community is an integral part of the research attempts in this institution, and the faculty has graciously come forward and that ‘we believe it too’ but the beauty of this discussion as where we are is a sign of maturation.’

Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to attend the remaining days of the town hall meeting.

The meeting regarding the University’s goal of athletic competitiveness is from 10 to 11:30 a.m. today in Melcher Hall, Room 213.

The meeting regarding the University’s national competitiveness and flagship goal is from 2 to 3:30 p.m. today in the New Orleans Room 185, University Hilton.

Thursday meetings will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the New Orleans Room 185, University Hilton. They will address goals of student success and resource competitiveness, respectively.

The final day of the town hall is 1 to 2 p.m. Monday in the San Francisco Room 183, University Hilton and will address the University’s local and worldwide recognition.

A complete list of the SAG’s members can be found at

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