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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

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Board of Regents approves new athletic facility construction, reflect achievements


board of regents

Board of Regents Chair Tillman Fertitta (right) speaks to UH System Chancellor Renu Khator (left) at the quarterly meeting. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

The UH System Board of Regents reviewed enrollment achievements, introduced new academic programs and approved the construction of a new athletics facility, among other items at the meeting on Thursday.

The quarterly meeting took place at the UH Hilton Ballroom with UH System Chancellor Renu Khator and regents Tilman J. Fertitta, Jack B. Moore, Durga Agrawal, Doug Brooks, Steve Chazen, Alonzo Cantu, Beth Madison, Derek Delgado and Ricky Raven. 

Academics

A new plan is in place to recruit talented students through a targeted scholarship. The board is working to raise $135 million for this program for students to utilize resources, increase admission and four-year graduation rate.

Additionally, a new degree program of a Bachelor of Arts in Mexican American, Latino/a Applied Studies. Influenced by similar programs at other universities and its standing as a Hispanic serving institution, the degree aims to graduate culturally competent students by focusing on the experience and perspectives of the variety of Latinx subgroups. 

Unanimously approved by the board, the induction of the interdisciplinary program provides students to choose from the tracks of enterprise applications, quantitative methods, public policy and Latinx cultural studies.

In the UH System’s institutional compliance hotline report, a study concluded that the number of compliance reports at all institutions is consistent with the numbers from past years, with UH-Downtown rising the most. Also, the training statistics for the fiscal year 2022 shows that the percentage of trained employers and employers, and employees are consistent with last year’s.

The chancellor’s report also gave an overview of the University’s plan to “Reimagine the Workplace.” It noted a large number of students were demanding more online instruction and support services, also giving a brief overview of the progress made so far, including the equipping of nearly 300 classrooms for online instruction. 

The report recounted the University’s effort to gather data on remote workplace options, through holding meetings with stakeholders, staff performance studies and comparing data with comparable institutions. 

Admissions

Despite COVID-19 impacts on the mode of instruction, the University experienced a four percent increase in freshman student enrollment and a two percent increase, said executive director of undergraduate admissions Mardell Maxwell.

Maxwell also mentioned there was an increase in average GPA and SAT scores amongst the class of 2026, an increase of out-of-state student enrollment and an increase in African American and Asian students.

“As a former first generation college student, who’s also a person of color, I take great pride in the fact that we’re going out into our underserved communities, we’re going out in many other communities as well,” Maxwell said. “We saw a record number of African American and Asian students this last fall as well, which I think speaks to the great work that’s happening across our campus community.”

Facilities

The board approved a site and program proposal for the Football Operations Building between the TDECU stadium and the Indoor Football Practice Facility, aimed to be completed by Winter 2024.

Including a locker room, a player lounge, coaches offices, equipment operations, meeting rooms and more. The project has a $75 million estimate, said athletics vice president Chris Pezman.

The proposed site for the building is currently used for parking during the week and is a tailgate location on game days, so there will be some impact on parking availability, according to Pezman.

The Board of Regents also passed the site and program plan for a building to house the Hobby School of Public Affairs with plans for classrooms, administrative and gathering spaces, auditorium and other types of spaces where the O’Quinn Library site currently stands. The project is expected to be completed in Winter 2025.

Some other items unanimously decided were the name change of the UH Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management to the UH Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership and the modification of UH-Downtown’s mission and vision statement. 

Finances

Senior Vice Chancellor Raymond Bartlett presented several contracts, all approved, including continuing services agreements for civil engineering, programming, mechanical, construction contract auditing, a design-build contract, $1.2 million towards a recreation sports field at UH-Clear Lake and a request to increase the project budget for the Ben Wilson St. at UH-Victoria.

The board approved requests to write off $7.6 million for the past year, $9.7 million for UH system-wide insurance coverage with the largest concern being property coverage. Housekeeping approvals for the 2023 holiday schedule and lastly, an approval to update banking investment resolutions with the hiring of the new treasurer. 

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