Houston welcomes Walker as new VPSA
After being confirmed at a UH Board of Regents meeting on Aug. 17, a seven month search has come to an end as J. Richard Walker stepped up as the new Vice President for Student Affairs for the University.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the UH community,” Walker said. “I’m very impressed with the students, faculty and staff and their enthusiasm for being a Tier One University,” Walker said.
Walker brings 29 years of experience to Houston, with an extensive resume that includes administrative positions at both public and private institutions.
He previously served as the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Miami, the campus where he has worked since 1987.
He spearheaded a number of student-centered initiatives at Miami, which includes the design and development of a $68 million Student Center Project that expanded the campus Student Activities Center and University Center.
“To me it is about enhancing the student learning experience through curricular and co-curricular opportunities that support the academic mission of the institution,” Walker said.
He also said that he plans to continue supporting students at UH by keeping close ties with the student government, opening up round table discussions with student leaders and holding regular town halls with the student body.
He has hopes for a strategic planning initiative that will study the issues that impact the University as well as determine how the Division of Student Affairs can contribute to a solution.
“I want a defined assessment process — one that not only gauges student satisfaction, but determines the actual impact that policies have on students,” Walker said.
UH President Renu Khator said in a press release that Walker has demonstrated a strong commitment to students throughout his career.
“He understands the importance of multiculturalism and has interacted effectively with a diverse population of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members on many issues,” Khator said.
SGA President Michael Harding worked extensively as an appointed member of the search committee tasked with finding a replacement for the previous Vice President for Student Affairs, Elwyn C. Lee, who was named as the Vice President for Community Relations and Institutional Outreach in February.
Harding said that while he was initially unimpressed during preliminary interviews, Walker distinguished himself as a strong candidate thanks to his charisma and hands-on approach to leadership.
“At first Dr. Walker was not one of my top choices,” Harding said. “After meeting him in person I was extremely impressed. His personality was magnetic, and I felt the sense that he would be the catalyst in creating a Tier One Division of Student Affairs.
“I feel his experienced expertise will benefit the student body as a whole,” Harding said.
University of Miami SGA President Brandon Mitchell, a junior majoring in sports administration and political science, said that though many students at his campus were sad to see him go, they’re happy for the new opportunities that Walker’s appointment to the UH campus affords him.
“Walker has positively impacted almost every aspect of the University of Miami and has been key to the unprecedented rise that we’re on right now,” said Mitchell.
“His policy making decisions come from an array of administrative, visionary and student outlooks and he always makes sure to get as much input as possible before making a decision.
“Walker is passionate, dedicated, and determined to make everything in which he is involved as great as it can be and his work ethic to that end is unmatched. There is no doubt he will do great things at and for the University of Houston,” Mitchell said.