National media take notice of UHV

The University of Houston-Victoria is garnering more national media attention recently with the university’s move to expand to a four-year university in the fall, add innovative offerings and grow existing programs.

“It can be very difficult to get the attention of the national media these days, especiallypositive attention and especially for smaller universities,” UHV President Tim Hudson said. “But we are on quite a roll lately thanks to some hard work and creativity. UHV is increasingly on the map.”    

UHV recently was in the national and even international media when the American Book Review, a nonprofit, internationally distributed literary journal based at the university, published its January/February edition focusing on the subject of bad books. Forty contributors wrote about what makes a bad book and named examples.

The ABR edition was featured in the Los Angeles Times book blog “Jacket Copy” earlier this month. The blog was posted again in The Huffington Post, and Inside Higher Ed also linked to it. Blogs about ABR’s top 40 bad books issue also were printed in, the online version of The Guardian newspaper based in London; The Chronicle of Higher Education; and The Dallas Morning News.

“A lot of good conversations have come out of the question of what makes a book bad,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences and ABR editor and publisher. “It’s exciting that UHV and ABR have taken the lead in a national conversation.”

This was not the first time UHV’s burgeoning literary enterprise has corralled national attention. A Jan 8, 2009, article in Inside Higher Ed, a national online source that attracts 600,000 unique visitors every month with news, opinions and job items related to higher education, called the university an “unlikely haven for humanities publishing” and mentioned its new master’s degree in publishing.

Recent mentions about UHV in the media have increased 25 percent from the first six months of fiscal year 2009 compared with the same period in fiscal year 2010, according to Meltwater Media, a company that monitors and analyzes online news. This was an increase from 425 to 531 online mentions on radio and TV, and in newspapers.

Another success in March for UHV involved coverage of the university’s Degree in Three, or Dn3 program. State and national media, including the Houston Chronicle and U.S. News & World Report, have taken notice of the Dn3 since the three-year bachelor’s degree was announced in July as a way for students to save time and money. Most recently, Inside Higher Ed mentioned UHV’s Dn3 in a March 11 story about universities across the nation offering three-year bachelor’s degrees. USA Today also ran the article, and it was referenced in The Huffington Post.

In addition, national and state e-newsletters also have publicized UHV’s successes as they were sent news releases. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities, a national leadership association made up of 430 of the nation’s public colleges and universities, frequently published the university’s news in @aascu, its biweekly e-newsletter. Earlier this month, @aascu featured links to press releases about a $10,000 gift to UHV from the Pan American Golf Association of Victoria and three prestigious ADDY awards that the university won for advertising creative excellence.

Links to stories about UHV also were sent out in the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors News Clips e-mail to its members, the chief executive officers of the 53 publically supported general academic universities in Texas. Texas, a Web portal that provides data to facilitate connections between nonprofits and charitable foundations, also published links to press releases about grants UHV received.

“Good things that warrant national attention are happening here at UHV, and our communications team has worked hard to make personal contacts with more members of the media and increase UHV’s exposure,” said John Ellis, UHV marketing director, who oversees both the university’s public relations and marketing initiatives. “Their efforts are paying off.”    

The increased exposure experienced by UHV has been helped by the success of the Jaguars baseball and softball teams with national rankings and All-American athletes, record-breaking enrollment growth of 15 percent from fall of 2008 to fall of 2009, and approval to expand UHV in the fall to a four-year destination university.

“Our growing national profile can only be good for our community and our students,” Hudson said.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Paula Cobler