UHV gives Community Partnership Award to higher education commission

University of Houston-Victoria President Tim Hudson, left, gives an award to Ron Walker, president of The Victoria College Board of Trustees, at the 2008-2009 UHV President’s Annual Report & Excellence Awards on Thursday. Walker, who co-chaired the Commission on Expanding Access to Higher Education, accepted the award on behalf of the commission for its work on UHV’s downward expansion.

The University of Houston-Victoria gave its Community Partnership Award to the Commission on Expanding Access to Higher Education Thursday night for the group’s support of the university’s expansion and its work to advance the quality of life in the region.

The award was part of the UHV President’s Annual Report and Excellence Awards event, which attracted more than 180 area leaders to the university. The evening also featured other awards, and UHV President Tim Hudson and several other speakers talking about the university’s growth and accomplishments in 2008-2009. The theme of the annual report was “Growing Toward a Brighter Tomorrow.”

“We chose this theme because of our phenomenal growth at UHV this past year in numerous areas, including student enrollment, athletics, academic degrees and, of course, the continued growth we expect to experience soon when we add our FIRST 200 freshmen and sophomores in the fall,” Hudson said.

The 17-member commission was instrumental in UHV’s success in getting approval to add underclassmen, he said.

The group was formed in August of 2008 by officials from the University of Houston System and The Victoria College to study the future of higher education in Victoria. As part of this charge, the commission, made up of educators and local community members, looked at whether UHV should add freshmen and sophomores.

After several meetings, including one in which about 400 community members showed up with the overwhelming majority supporting the expansion, the commission unanimously voted on Sept. 30, 2008, that UHV should add underclassmen. The university is now expecting its first freshmen and sophomores next fall pending final approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“Although the commission has since disbanded, we wanted to recognize each member for his or her foresight into the impact a four-year university will have on Victoria and the surrounding communities,” Hudson said. “This expansion not only will draw additional faculty, staff and students to the community, it also will increase the number of cultural events and activities available to all of us and ultimately strength the region’s economy.”

The commission was co-chaired by Welcome Wilson, chairman of the UHS Board of Regents, and Ron Walker, president of the VC Board of Trustees. Hudson also was part of the group. Walker accepted a crystal award at the event on behalf of the commission, and each member was given an engraved paperweight.

Walker said he was pleased to accept the award on behalf of the commission. The group came together and worked hard to study and make a decision about UHV expanding.

“To me, the strength of Victoria is partnerships,” Walker said after the event. “It’s not ‘us’ and ‘they,’ but ‘we.’”

Other commission members were:

  • Thomas Butler
  • Janey Lack
  • Mary Elizabeth Jimenez
  • Bland Proctor
  • Eric Murphy
  • Dennis Patillo
  • Jan Jacob
  • David McLarry
  • Bob Moore
  • Bill Blanchard
  • Michael Hummel
  • Dan Jaeckle
  • Jeff Bauknight
  • Jeff Lyon

The evening also featured the announcement of two other special recognition awards. Victoria resident LuAnn O’Connor, who obtained a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from UHV in 1984, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. The Student Leadership Award was given to Richmond resident Anjabeen Ashraf, who is working on her master’s degree in counseling through the UHV School of Education & Human Development.

O’Connor is a Realtor with The Ron Brown Company in Victoria and is among only 4 percent of the nation’s Realtors who have earned the prestigious Certified Residential Specialist designation. She was awarded the 2007 Realtor of the Year from the Victoria Board of Realtors and has been in Coldwell Banker’s International President’s Circle for multiple years.

“UHV gave me the tools and the confidence to be successful in my real estate career,” O’Connor said Thursday evening. “I’m proud of UHV, and I’ll always be committed to helping this institution grow into the future.”

Ashraf serves as president of the UHV Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota counseling honor society. She is in the process of completing an internship at Wharton County Junior College in its Sugar Land counseling center. She maintains a 3.86 grade-point average at UHV and will graduate in December.

“The Student Leadership Award validates everything I believe in about getting involved,” Ashraf said after the event. “The fact my professors think of me the way they do is a huge honor, and I feel very humbled.”

In addition, UHV faculty and staff members were recognized for awards they had previously received. Ziad Swaidan, an associate professor in the School of Business Administration, was recognized with the Enron Teaching Excellence Award. Massoud Metghalchi, a business professor, was honored with the Research and Scholarly Activities Award. Nagarajan Ramamoorthy, also a business professor, received the Distinguished Faculty Service Award. Stanley Lester, a network specialist at the university, was recognized with the Employee of the Year Award.

Hudson also announced at the event that for the second year, UHV had produced an online annual report, rather than a printed booklet, because of the university’s continued commitment to the environment.

Area residents can view the annual report and an event photo gallery at right now, and within the next several days, videos from Thursday’s celebration will be added, along with additional photos. The site currently features video presentations shown during the event; faculty, staff, student and alumni highlights, UHV’s enrollment and financial figures; a list of donors; and much more.

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