UHV reaches enrollment milestone this semester

The University of Houston-Victoria has reached an enrollment milestone of more than 3,000 students this semester, based on preliminary fall enrollment figures.


"This latest milestone is a tribute to the professionalism and dedication of our staff and faculty - and to the fact that UHV is a great value in terms of cost and quality," UHV President Tim Hudson said.


Enrollment at UHV has exceeded several milestones in a relatively short span of time, passing the 2,500 mark and now the 3,000 mark since Hudson's arrival in 2004. UHV started with about 100 students in 1973.


Final enrollment figures and a more detailed breakdown of student demographics for the fall semester, including how many students take classes in Victoria, Sugar Land, Cinco Ranch and online, should be available in late September.


The strong growth has led UHV to open new sections and increase the number of students allowed in several courses, UHV Provost Suzanne LaBrecque said.


Much of the growth can be credited to the way university employees have moved quickly to adapt to changes in the world and have adopted aggressive, proactive strategies to grow the university, Hudson said.


"We have developed academic programs that meet the needs of our society; we have invested in the technology required to reach the contemporary student; we have raised record amounts of private funds to help students pay for their educations; and we have attracted and retained a high-quality faculty focused on student learning," he said.


UHV has rapidly adopted many new academic programs to deal with critical employee needs in the workforce.


When the healthcare industry reported a nursing shortage caused by a lack of nurse educators, UHV began implementing its Master of Science in Nursing program in 2007 to supply those teachers. Similarly, when the state reported a teacher shortage, UHV started the Victoria Online Initial Certification for Educators (VOICE) program in 2002. The program allows people with any bachelor's degree to become certified teachers almost entirely online.


UHV also moved quickly to adopt online classes as a major part of its course offerings to accommodate the busy work schedules of today's professionals. UHV offered its first online class, a business course, in 1998. Now, most degrees are offered at least partly online.


Just six months ago, UHV substantially increased its available bandwidth by joining the Lonestar Education And Research Network (LEARN), a project to connect most public universities in Texas with fiber optic cable, said Joe Ferguson, UHV director of information technology. Previously, UHV was connected to the University of Houston by dedicated T1 phone lines that limited the growth of the school's online traffic.


"We'll have bandwidth to spare for quite some time thanks to this change," Ferguson said.


In addition, UHV redesigned its Web site in July to make it as convenient as possible for users. That utility was subjected to intense testing and surveying before the site went online, said Marci Wallace, UHV web services manager.


To support the growing number of students, UHV has acquired outside contributions of more than $800,000 in the fiscal year ending Sept. 1, more than twice the amount raised in 2003-2004, to fund scholarships and innovations. More than $658,000 was given in 2007-2008 to fund scholarships.


The state Legislature also recently tripled UHVs special item funding and authorized the selling of tuition revenue bonds for the construction of a regional economic development center. UHV also is positioning itself to become a strong competitor for a share of the $100 million incentive fund created by the Legislature during its last session to reward institutions of higher learning that meet certain state-set benchmarks.


"We have a dedicated staff that has spread the word about the good things going on here at UHV, and people far and wide have seen it as a great investment opportunity for the future," UHV Vice President Dick Phillips said. "If someone has the proven will for a higher education, we will do everything we can to find a way to provide the money for them to receive it."


Those students are taught by a quality faculty gathered from around the world, LaBrecque said.


"We pride ourselves on having small classes with professors who are always available for our students," she said. "This personable learning environment produces superior results in our graduates."


The university also saw its profile raised with the start of a winning athletics program and the arrival of many internationally known entities like the American Book Review, Fiction Collective 2 and the Society for Critical Exchange, Phillips said. The university also enjoys global bragging rights from School of Business Administrations accreditation by AACSB International - The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, first granted in 2005, and its recent student exchange agreements signed with universities in China.


If granted permission to expand to a four-year institution, UHV plans to bolster its student ranks with freshmen and sophomores recruited from Houston, Austin, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.


"With the quality of programs we have and the quality of life we enjoy here, I believe we could reach the 4,000-student milestone in a relatively short amount of time," Hudson said. "The word is spreading about the wonderful things happening here at UHV, and more and more people want to be a part of it."

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.

Thomas Doyle 361-570-4342