Academics & Research News

High rankings bring desire for continuous improvement

With accomplishments comes the need for more progress.

While UH may have been ranked among the top 50 public research universities in the country by U.S. News and World Report, that doesn’t mean that the University will stop striving to go beyond what it’s already accomplished.

“This honor speaks to (the) University’s strengths and productivity,” said interim Associate Provost for Strategic Enrollment Planning Maureen Croft.

“This is the first time we’ve been added to the list, so it’s representative of the school’s desire to to focus on national competitiveness and student success.”

While the school ranked highly in faculty measures, its lowest performance was in undergraduate education. Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Student Success Teri Longcare is hoping that new initiatives will bring change and improvements to the growing student body.

“An important part of the University of Houston’s mission is ‘to offer nationally competitive and internationally recognized opportunities for learning, discovery and engagement to a diverse population of students in a real-world setting,’” Longcare said.

“Student success is one of our key strategic goals as we strive to create a learning environment in which student success can be ensured. We have launched a number of new initiatives aimed at providing students with tools and resources needed to facilitate meaningful learning experiences, inspirational engagement opportunities and timely degree completion.”

In addressing the needs of undergraduate education, freshmen are the key target for new programs. Among these new initiatives are the Foundations of Excellence program, an initiative offered by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. This program will target first-year students, aiming to establish a foundation to build academic success in subsequent years.

“We have taken a strategic approach to comprehensively and collaboratively evaluating the experience of our students in their first year toward the goal of implementing recommendations developed through the work of a task force consisting of nearly 200 faculty, staff and students,” said Longcare.

The University is also offering Cub Camp, an orientation program designed to create a sense of community for participants and serve as a building block for future success. UH has also recently joined the Education Advisory Board’s Student Success Collaborative, which combines technology, research and predictive analytics to provide actionable insights into the sources of retention and graduation risk at the university, college, department and program levels.

These aren’t the school’s first initiatives toward academic achievement. In Fall 2014, the school launched the UHin4 plan as a tool to help students identify and reach their career paths within a timely and cost-effective manner. A fixed four-year tuition option is now available for students as a budgeting mechanism to eliminate the possibility for future tuition increases.

The Provost Summer Reading Program launched this year as well, giving incoming freshmen the opportunity to connect by reading the same book over the summer and discuss it in faculty-led seminar prior to the start of fall classes.

“We are committed to providing students with the highest quality undergraduate experience possible,” Longcare said. “(We) are confident that these efforts will contribute to improvements in the success of our students both in and beyond their degree programs at the University of Houston.”

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