UHV to offer new chemistry, physics courses at school district’s Liberty Academy

A partnership between the University of Houston-Victoria and Victoria Independent School District has paved the way for the university to offer chemistry and physics courses for the first time.  

The UHV science classes will begin next week in the laboratories of the school district’s Liberty Academy, 1110 Sam Houston St. “General Physics” will be taught from 4 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday, and “General Chemistry” will be from 4 to 7 p.m. every Thursday during the spring semester.  

A number of UHV students had requested that the university begin offering chemistry and physics courses. With a limited amount of lab space on the UHV campus, administrators had to look elsewhere to meet this growing student need, a result of the university’s downward expansion to admit freshmen and sophomores for the first time. The labs at Liberty Academy hadn’t been used since 2010 when Memorial High School closed.  

Phil Castille

UHV President Phil Castille expressed his appreciation for the school district’s willingness to lease the labs for UHV classes.  

“I’d like to thank the Victoria Independent School District for collaborating with us to make this endeavor possible,” he said. “The school district has been a close ally of our objectives, and the arrangement to offer UHV science classes increases the educational opportunities for students in the Crossroads region.”  

Robert Jaklich

VISD Superintendent Robert Jaklich said the district is excited to expand its partnership with UHV.  

“This is another example of the power of the people in Victoria – how everyone is committed and dedicated to creating a future of hope and endless possibilities for all our students,” he said.

Richard Gunasekera, a UHV professor and director of graduate studies for biological sciences, will teach the UHV chemistry course. Ricardo Teixeira, director of the UHV math program, will teach the physics course.  

Richard Gunasekera

“The chemistry course is geared to students interested in biochemical, health sciences or nursing,” Gunasekera said. “It’s important these students receive a solid background in chemistry before going up the ladder to more advanced science courses.”  

Adding these first-year classes is in response to student demand.  

Jeffrey Di Leo

“By adding these courses in a nearby setting, we are better serving student needs,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “We have existing faculty members who are deeply knowledgeable in these subject areas. Thanks to VISD, we now have a place for students to perform the lab work.”

Liberty Academy is also home to the Victoria Area Center for Advanced Learning. VISD students can take classes there to earn both high school and college credit.

Jeffrey Cass

In November, a group of faculty and administrators toured Liberty Academy, where the labs had been mothballed. UHV staff members have been preparing the labs this week by getting equipment, obtaining chemicals and assigning staff members to help refit and oversee the labs.  

Jeffrey Cass, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs, said he appreciated faculty members taking steps to add the two courses.  

“I’d like to thank the School of Arts & Sciences administrators and faculty for their work in preparing the labs for the spring semester,” he said. “I also want to express my gratitude to Dr. Gunasekera and Dr. Teixeira for agreeing to add to their course load on short notice.”  

Increased lab space at UHV is part of the plan for the university’s new academic and economic development building scheduled to open in 2014. Construction on the new facility is slated to begin this summer.

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.

Jeremy Shapiro