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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Administration

Board of Regents approve Quad demolition, say campus carry policy is ‘good enough’


The University of Houston System Board of Regents held their quarterly meeting at the UH-Victoria campus Thursday. During the meeting, they approved the start of the Quadrangle Replacement Housing Project and made no amendments to Campus Carry Work Group draft policy.

The policy will now go to UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator, who will have the final say.

Several board members, including Chairman Tilman Fertitta, expressed confusion about whether UH’s policy might conflict with the law.

“I hope this isn’t open carry, though, is it? We have no open carry?” Fertitta said, reading the policy’s list of campus carry exclusion zones. The information was emailed to students in early spring.

When Vice Chancellor and Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Dona Cornell informed the Board that they would not have to approve the draft and only amend it if necessary, one regent remarked that it was “good enough.”

Board OKs Quadrangle replacement

The Board gave Khator authority to negotiate design and construction contracts for the Quadrangle Replacement Housing Project. Thursday’s vote represents the first official green light for the project.

“The Quadrangle (is one of) our oldest facilities and in need of replacement. It’s an $80 million project, will have a minimum of 1,000 beds with up to 1,200 beds,” said Senior Vice Chancellor and Vice President for Administration and Finance Jim McShan, who was approved for that position at the meeting after serving as the interim.

“While we still want to continue to grow our beds to 25 percent of our total enrollment, these facilities need to be replaced, if you’ve been in them lately,” McShan said. “Design would begin in July, construction would start in December 2017 and would complete in July 2019.”

School of Public Affairs approved

The Board unanimously approved establishment of the Hobby School of Public Affairs, which is an academic expansion of the existing Hobby Center for Public Policy within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

“What differentiates the Hobby School from other schools of public affairs is this: We put a premium on both quantitative training and values training,” said Jim Granato, a faculty member in the Hobby Center for Public Policy. “In some sense, that reflects (former Gov.) Bill Hobby’s personality. If you know that man, you know he likes data, but he’s also someone who really likes to get to the point of something, and transparency and values of what he’s about as well.”

According to the proposal, after a three-year planning period, a recommendation will be made to shift the Hobby School of Public Affairs from CLASS to an academic college with its own dean.

Board purchases land, sells Katy building 

During an executive session, the Board considered the sale of the University’s Cinco Ranch building and the purchase of a larger plot of land a few miles away in Katy. The new site will be called UHS University Park.

After the session, the Board voted to allow Khator to start negotiating the deal.

“The dynamic growth in the Katy area is clear evidence of the need for expanded educational services in the region,” Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Paula Myrick Short said. “The University of Houston System has worked with residents to make sure we are meeting their needs, at a location that will offer convenient access, as well as room to grow.”

Khator to ring in credits for being green

The Board also approved shifting authority over negotiating a number of contracts to Khator, granting her the authority to negotiate system contracts for goods, services and construction exceeding $1 million.

One of the contracts would hire a consultant to help UH receives tax credits on energy-efficient buildings built in recent years. McShan said the University could receive $1.75 to $2 per square foot, which could amount to $400,000 in credits.

“It’s obviously a good idea for us to leverage those credits to our advantage, and we have not been doing that,” Cornell said. “People (at UH) just didn’t really understand what they were signing at the time. We dug down into it, we’ve been in contact with some other institutions.”

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