UHV expands to four-year school
UH-Victoria will change its legal status from an upper-level university to a full four-year institution through the expected passage of HB 1056.
The original statue that created UHV allowed the institution to serve only third and fourth year undergraduate students, and with the modification, programs will expand to serve freshmen and sophomores.
‘We would like this university to grow into a destination university, not just in the southwest, but overseas as well,’ UHV President Tim Hudson said. ‘By developing our educational scope, we hope to become an attractive academic institution for international students as well.
‘Our unique location is unlike that of any university in the UH system. We envision that the UHV campus will become a real alternative for students seeking a four-year degree who don’t necessarily want to reside and study in a metropolitan environment.’
The motion for UHV to expand its academic programs to freshmen and sophomores began five years ago.
‘We started looking at the research (of upper-level university expansion) in 2004. Then we begun looking more seriously at the data at former upper-level universities in Texas and nationally in 2006,’ Margaret H. Rice, chief of staff of UHV president’s office said. ‘We saw the benefits that the downward expansion would bring ‘hellip; (for example) with the teaching center in Sugar Land, there was a lot of growth. So we think our community would benefit from having the expansion economically, socially and culturally.’
An increase in enrollment at the institution is likely to act as a catalyst of economic growth, bringing in more professionals and businesses to the south Texas area.
‘This change would greatly benefit the city of Victoria. An influx of students would not only boost the economy, but would also encourage social development, no doubt redefining the local culture,’ Jeffrey DiLeo, dean of arts and sciences at UHV said. ‘UHV has approximately 3,300 students. Estimates project that if the bill gets approved, by Fall 2010, the expansion to undergraduates will increase enrollment by at least 200. Further down the line, 10 or even 15 years from now, we hope the UHV four-year institution change will attract approximately 5,000 new underclassmen.’
The downward expansion for UHV is part of a national trend of upper-level universities that are becoming four-year institutions.
‘In the ’60s and ’70s, a number of (upper-level universities) started and proved to be a good starting point for universities, but not very good for long term viability,’ Rice said. ‘We cannot recruit directly from high school, since they would have to wait for two academic years before they can attend our institution.
‘There is performance funding that we are not eligible for that requires the retention of seniors starting from the freshmen level, since we have no freshmen. Also, we would have a better assessment of our academic programs when we can track (progress) from the freshmen year to senior year.’
With the main campus as the leading university in terms of student diversity, Hudson said UHV will follow suit as part of its expansion.
‘We believe it will allow us to recruit more students from this region, to in turn allow these students to mingle with a greater diversity of students,’ Hudson said.
Hudson said new focus on underclassmen would not underscore current upper-level UHV programs.
‘We don’t intend to abandon any successful upper-level programs, but simply would like to broaden our academic outreach to a wider demographic,’ Hudson said.
Established in 1973, the UHV campus offers 33 degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s level and serves mostly a non-traditional student population. The enrollment was 3,260 in Spring 2009. This figure and the number of degree programs are on the rise.
The expansion is anticipated to facilitate greater access to higher education for the residents of the Coastal Bend region.
‘It’s a historic moment for the university, probably the most important since the founding of the university 35 years ago,’ DiLeo said.
Gov. Rick Perry is expected to sign the bill soon. If he does, UHV will officially begin recruiting its first 190 underclassmen for Fall 2010.
With more plans for the future, UHV is optimistic about the potential benefits that a four-year institution will bring to their community.
‘We are very enthusiastic, and we are looking forward to welcoming the freshmen and sophomores in 2010,’ Rice said.