Satellite surveying other system
A bill that would move the University of Houston-Victoria into the Texas A&M University System is the latest in a string of actions taken by members of the Victoria community who want to see the school taken out of the UH system.
State Representative Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) filed the bill on March 8.
Justin Unruh, Morrison’s chief of staff, said the idea to switch started after a commission on education identified a possible difference in vision between the University of Houston System and the UH-Victoria branch.
“The (UH) System’s vision is to be the best metropolitan system in the country and achieve Tier One status,” Unruh said. “The vision for Victoria is to establish an exceptional destination institution.”
Reports surfaced in early fall that UH-V officials were looking into becoming part of the Texas Tech system. The choice was made, however, to partner with the A&M system because Victoria is more closely aligned with that system, and they have a proven record of growing universities such as the one in Victoria, Unruh said.
UH System Chancellor Renu Khator and Chair of the Board of Regents Carroll Ray released a statement that stated the UH System has “strongly supported the UH-V’s mission of serving the educational needs of the Victoria community, as well as promoting the Coastal Bend region’s economic well-being and advancing its quality of life.”
Khator and Ray also said that this was “consistent with the UH’s system strategic priority of student success, as well as Texas’ Closing the Gap Initiatives.”
The system, according to the statement, remains “firmly committed to a destination university in Victoria, and will work closely with the Legislature to ensure that the higher education needs of Victoria residents and all of Texas are fully served.”
Though the bill seems logical to many, it still has some individuals concerned.
“There have been some in the community who have contacted our office in opposition, and the reasons vary from being an alumnus to believing that the university is currently serving the educational needs of the region,” Unruh said.
Others have also had concern about UH-V students and faculty that could be affected by the bill.
“Nothing will change,” Unruh said. “It is stated specifically in the bill that there will be no impact on faculty, students or (degree) programs currently offered.”
If the UH-V switch does occur, Unruh said the effective date would be Sept. 1, 2011.
“I am strongly behind the switch to the Texas A&M system because I believe we have more in common with their system, and again, they have a proven record of growing institutions such as the one in Victoria,” he said.
“I also believe we will be able to better serve those students needed to achieve the Goals of Closing Gaps, such as minority students and first-generation students.”
State agencies are prohibited from advocating for or against the passage of legislation, and UH Director of Media Relations Richard Bonnin deferred back to the system’s official statement.
“As a bill has been filed, the initial statement of the chancellor and chair of the Board of Regents is our only comment while the bill is pending,” Bonnin said.
Khator and Ray, in their statement, said they believe the UH System remains the “best partner for UH-V and its students.”