Accreditation commission president to address UHV graduates at commencement

Belle Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, will deliver the keynote address May 16 during University of Houston-Victoria’s spring commencement ceremonies.

Belle Wheelan

Wheelan’s career spans 40 years in higher education. She has been a faculty member, provost, college president, student services officer and secretary of education. In several of those roles, she was the first woman or first African American to hold those positions.

“We are honored to have Dr. Wheelan join us to speak to our graduates during this joyous occasion,” UHV Interim President Vic Morgan said. “We had the pleasure of working with Dr. Wheelan in 2014 during UHV’s re-accreditation review. Her distinguished career in higher education shows her commitment to student preparation. I’m looking forward to hearing her message at commencement.”

UHV will hold two graduation ceremonies in Victoria. Both will take place in Faith Family Church, 2002 E. Mockingbird Lane, the largest indoor facility available in town. The 9 a.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the schools of Arts & Sciences and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. The 1 p.m. ceremony will be for the schools of Business Administration and Nursing.

Vic Morgan

Based in Decatur, Ga., SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in 11 Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. The commission’s mission is to ensure the educational quality and improve the effectiveness of its member institutions.

UHV’s on-campus accreditation visit took place in April 2014. The commission made only one recommendation about staff credentialing. After staffing adjustments were made, UHV sent its final report to SACSCOC in September. The commission accepted the report in December, finalizing re-affirmation.

Going through re-accreditation validated the use of ongoing education practices and helped university leaders identify strategies for future plans.

“The purpose of accreditation is to ensure institutions are providing appropriate, rigorous and high-quality instruction and services to prepare students for life,” Wheelan said. “The process ensures students are as prepared as possible.”

Wheelan earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Trinity University in San Antonio, a master’s degree in developmental educational psychology from Louisiana State University and a doctorate in educational administration with a special concentration in community college leadership from the University of Texas at Austin.

She said her favorite part of graduation day is hearing the cheers from family members of the graduates as they walk across the stage.

Susie Motal

Susie Motal, UHV coordinator of business services, heard Wheelan speak at a family member’s 2014 graduation in Corpus Christi. She suggested UHV administrators invite Wheelan to give the keynote address at UHV’s ceremonies.

“She is a dynamic speaker who captured the attention of the audience,” Motal said. “I’m glad she accepted our invitation. It’s a great tie-in with our completed re-accreditation.”

Wheelan still is planning her speech, but she said it will be a motivational and partly humorous address, hitting on what’s next for graduates and what they’ve already accomplished.

“One message will be anything is possible with determination and support from others,” she said.

Among Wheelan’s many honors are the American Association of University Women’s Women of Distinction Award, the John E. Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Institutional Leadership Award and the American Association of Community Colleges Leadership Award. In 2001, The Washingtonian Magazine named Wheelan to its list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C.

Wheelan belongs to numerous local, state and national organizations, including the American College Testing Inc. Board of Directors, the AACC Board of Directors and the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs.

For more information about commencement, contact UHV special events coordinator Nancy Gresham at 361-570-4351 or

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