UHV creates new department to focus on success of future freshmen, sophomores

Chari Norgard

“Student success” will be the watchwords this fall guiding a new University of Houston-Victoria department designed to prepare for the addition of freshmen and sophomores at the university in the fall of 2010.

Tim Hudson

“Our goal is not only to recruit 200 students to UHV, but also to do everything in our power to make sure they succeed,” UHV President Tim Hudson said. “Our new department of Student Success and Enrollment Management will do just that.”

Led by Chari Norgard, who recently was named associate vice president for Student Success and Enrollment Management, the new department will incorporate offices that are currently part of Student and Academic Services, in addition to the Financial Aid office.

“We’re going to have support mechanisms in SSEM that students need to learn about UHV, succeed when they arrive and graduate on time,” Norgard said. “We want to minimize any and all bureaucratic hassles for them so that they can focus on learning and their coursework.”

Suzanne LaBrecque

Suzanne LaBrecque, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs, said that the new department would benefit both staff and students.

“Having professionals who work in the various offices that support students in one streamlined department will facilitate students’ academic journey and allow for synergy and cross-training among our staff,” she said.

Denee Thomas, director of the Letting Education Achieve Dreams, or LEAD, office, will be given additional duties within SSEM. In her expanded position as director of LEAD and student recruitment, she will oversee the Academic and Career Services Center, and student services functions. Those areas will grow to include other elements needed for the addition of freshmen and sophomores, such as a broad-based student retention program, Student Employment Center, Residential and Student Life, New Student and Parent Orientation, Student/Parent Tours and a Counseling Center.

Since the Financial Aid office also will be part of SSEM, Financial Aid Director Carolyn Mallory will begin reporting to Norgard on Sept. 1.

“Practically all of our incoming students will be involved with financial aid in some way, so it seemed only logical that if we wanted to create a seamless, user-friendly process, we should make the Financial Aid office part of SSEM,” Norgard said.

Norgard joined UHV in 1986 as coordinator of the Academic Center. She was promoted to director of Instructional Support Services in 2001 and then senior director of Student and Academic Services in 2006. She taught a UHV professional writing course for 14 years.

In 2008, Norgard, with the help of Student Services Manager Minnie Urbano and other staff, was instrumental in forming Student Solutions, UHV’s one-stop shop to help students with their admissions and financial aid questions. SSEM will expand on UHV’s goal of providing students with a streamlined department to answer their questions, Hudson said.

“There is a lot of exciting work underway to get UHV ready for our new freshmen and sophomores, and this reorganization is a major step,” he said. “We’re determined to achieve our dream of becoming a destination university, and we want to provide our students with all the tools they need to achieve their dreams.”

On June 19, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill granting UHV permission to add freshmen and sophomores beginning in the fall of 2010. The admission of underclassmen, and the offering of freshman- and sophomore-level classes, is now pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the same organization that accredits most major universities in Texas.

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