School to offer classes for freshmen, sophomores

The Texas Legislature has given UH-Clear Lake approval to add freshman and sophomore-level classes to become a four-year university.

Initially approved by the UH System Board of Regents in 2008, the plan for downward expansion has been set in motion.

Currently, undergraduate students transfer to UHCL at junior and senior levels. State approval for expansion means that students can directly enter the university as freshmen.

“Students have many choices to consider when pursuing higher education,” said UHCL President William Staples. “UHCL as a four-year university will offer students another option within the UH System in addition to UH, UH-Downtown and UH-Victoria as well as other universities in our region.”

The approval for downward expansion is a major milestone in the University’s continuing advancement.

“Having the authority to offer freshman and sophomore level courses will enable UH-Clear Lake to offer additional pathways for students,” Staples said. “UHCL will be able to work closely with area high schools for students who wish to transition directly from high school to UHCL.”

In the early 1970s, the University opened up and worked closely with local community colleges to encourage upper-level enrollment. Now, to promote lower-level enrollment, UHCL will partner up with local school districts.

“We are currently in the process of determining both the feasibility and timing for the implementation of freshman and sophomore level courses,” Staples said.

A prospective business plan, which includes the need for more faculty and staff based on anticipated levels of enrollment and core curriculum requirements, has been completed in addition to a campus master plan regarding extra academic buildings and student housing.

The process, however, will take some time. Staples said that the university projects the first freshman class to enroll in Fall 2014.

The plan also encourages local high school students to pursue higher education at a university closer to home.

“UHCL offers high quality, accredited programs at a cost competitive level,”he said.

To meet the needs of students, Staples said that UHCL will also offer programs on campus, off campus and online.

“We will also pay particular attention to offering financial aid and student services focused on student success at UHCL,”Staples said. “This includes recruitment, retention and graduation.”

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