UHV celebrates new STEM building with ribbon cutting
University of Houston-Victoria faculty, staff, students, community leaders and representatives from the UH System gathered Thursday to celebrate the opening of the university’s newest academic building that is home to its science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.
The ribbon cutting for UHV University South, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St., began with statements from UHV President Bob Glenn; Chance Glenn, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs; Tiarah Figueroa, UHV Student Government Association president; and UH System Chancellor Renu Khator.
“University South is an exciting addition to our growing university,” UHV President Bob Glenn said. “As we move forward with our goal of becoming a destination university, University South will become a home for science and technology not only for UHV, but also for the Crossroads and Coastal Bend regions.”
University South is a three-story, 58,464-square-foot building located on the south end of the UHV campus. The building opened for face-to-face classes in August. University South cost $30 million to build, including the purchase of the land from Victoria College. The general contractor of the project was BE&K Building Group of Houston, and the architect was SmithGroup. The building was recognized with an honorable mention award during the American Institute of Architects Corpus Christi Chapter’s 2019 Design Awards Program.
University South features a 120-seat classroom, dedicated research areas, study spaces for students, classrooms, conference rooms, faculty offices and a third-floor patio. On the first floor of the building is an immersive, 210-degree visualization theater that was funded by a $450,000 gift from the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation. The screen in the theater displays images that appear to surround the user, providing an immersive experience. The theater is a training tool for various educational settings, including virtual reality, data visualization and animations for any of the UHV science programs. There also are separate areas for robotics and the gaming and simulation programs.
The foundation also donated $1.5 million to finance the build-out and state-of-the-art equipment for health-related labs in University South. The gift also funded a state-of-the-art kinesiology lab in UHV Northwest.
During the ceremony, Khator announced that UHV’s three academic schools will be known as colleges, and a fourth college will be added to the university in January. The fourth college will enable UHV to expand its offerings in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“University South provides a much-needed space for our faculty to conduct important academic research and offer more STEM programs for our students,” said Chance Glenn. “We are excited for the future of STEM here at UHV.”
One of the great things about the building is that it offers space for all the UHV science programs to be housed in one location. Before University South was built, science classrooms and labs were scattered between University Center and University North, and the number of labs were limited. Now, faculty and students have space for more instruction and dedicated areas for research, said Daniel White, assistant professor of biology and director of the graduate biology program.
“Having University South helps individual faculty members with a dedicated area for research and also offers more opportunities for students to conduct real research in a lab alongside faculty,” White said. “We also have the space to offer more complex labs, such as organic chemistry, for our students.”
In addition, the building offers an opportunity to grow the STEM programs at UHV and help students develop those skills with state-of-the-art equipment, said Yun Wan, chair of the UHV computer science division and professor of computer information systems. The visualization theater, and the labs for robotics, digital gaming and simulation, provide a unique space for teaching, research and collaboration.
“It’s exciting to have a building like University South because it allows for so much more research collaboration among STEM faculty members from different disciplines as well as closer faculty and student interaction,” Wan said. “Our students and faculty will benefit greatly from having a STEM building here on campus.”
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.