UH to foster strong city partnership
Houston Councilwoman At-Large Melissa Noriega emphasized the importance of universities and their role in improving the community at the UH faculty senate meeting last Wednesday.
Noriega — a graduate of UH and representative of Houston’s East End — spoke to the faculty senators at the most recent fall assembly and stressed the importance of a partnership between Houston and the University.
“Today I would like to talk to you about universities and how they are made up of innovators and idea folks, faculty members like yourselves and how they can work with municipal governments, cities, like me, and how they can work together to make our world of great urban areas better places to live,” Noriega said to the faculty senators.
Councilwoman Noriega addressed the economic impact and long-term contributions local universities can have on a city.
She described the successful partnerships between other cities and schools such as Arizona State University — which recently moved 12 colleges to downtown Phoenix as part of revitalization efforts — and Morgan State University and Baltimore which have begun to provide assistance to the Morgan MILE, a program that aims to support minority males in achieving academic success.
“These sorts of involvements require leadership and institutional commitment,” Noriega said.
“They go beyond the projects based on the energetic expertise of individual faculty members and far beyond the day-to-day problems like zoning, parking, excessive drinking or noise.”
Local universities are economic institutions that, according to Noriega, play a role in community, economic and real estate development as well as employment.
Their importance suggests that all parties involved should search their strengths to contribute to the need of a greater community involvement.
The next step in improving this important partnership between UH and the city of Houston is the planning of the 15th annual Scholarship and Community Conference, set to be held next April. The event will focus on community and University-lead initiatives that enhance the sustainability of Houston.
“The next step is working with key members of city council to plan this conference,” said Faculty Senate President Monica McHenry, an associate professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders.
“Our goal is to develop working groups to figure out what resources do we have at the University that can be leveraged to improve these times,” McHenry said.
She also said that Noriega is an excellent example of someone who understands these issues and what the University can offer to the city.
“ We want a mutual partnership. We want a broader, bigger impact on this city,” McHenry said. “We have brilliant people here, we ought to be able to help fix the city’s problems.”