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UHD: Overcoming Barriers

UHD is not immune to vulnerabilities, and because of that, we must take steps to safeguard the role the University plays in higher education. The competition for funding is an ever-present reality that effects all institutions of higher education. The University has also experienced confusion over its position in the marketplace, recent shifts in leadership, barriers to enrollment and infrastructure limitations. Despite these vulnerabilities, UHD strives to find creative and effective solutions that reinforce its mission and bolster the University’s purpose and influence in the region.

Supporting Staffing Needs to Promote Enrollment Growth
UHD continues to hit enrollment milestones and must continue to recruit and retain support staff to accommodate/support the volume of students arriving on campus.

Investing in Student Services
Just as the University must make a solid investment in staffing, it also must commit to those services that benefit our students. This includes an expansion of counseling services, healthcare services, career services, advising services and other necessary amenities to ensure student success.

Achieve Stronger Funding from the State Legislature
As a non-Tier One university … and a non-flagship institution … the University has long competed for sufficient funding from the state legislature. Although budget gains have been modest over the years, the University must work to envision a prosperous future for its campus and its students.

Overly Dependent on Funding from Enrollment
Enrollment is critical to UHD’s success, but the University must seek other avenues of funding. The institution continues to play a major role in the region’s economic growth and should be recognized and rewarded for its efforts to strengthen the prosperity of the city and state.

Increase Donor Base
Fundraising is a priority at all institutions of higher education, but to effectively grow, UHD must cultivate new gifts from untapped sources within and beyond our community. UHD must clearly identify funding priorities and seek support from the broader community of alumni, the local philanthropic community and national foundations and organizations.

Building University Pride and Identity
As a non-residential campus, it can be challenging to build university pride among the UHD community members. The University must work to further engage external stakeholders in sharing its stories with the community. Internally, the University must strive to ensure employees are appreciated and supported. Employee retention is as critical as student retention in creating a caring environmnet. Additionally, UHD must continue to ensure that Houstonians are well-aware of its legacy in the city and avoid any confusion with other universities.

Making UHD a School of First Choice
UHD should no longer be considered a backup school. This University is an institution where students can earn a degree of value, accomplish their goals, and lay a foundation for their future.

Involve Families in the Educational Experience
Family engagement is an enrollment and retention strategy. Parents, siblings and extended family members are critical to student success and are potential future UHD students. In order to create a family-friendly climate, continuity and commitment to student success, UHD should create bonding experiences that connect students’ families to the campus.

Asserting the UHD Brand
Because of UHD’s proximity to the University of Houston System flagship institution, and naming conventions within the system, many Houstonians think the two universities are one and the same. UHD must continue to communicate its mission and position within the region, as well as those traits that set it apart from other institutions.

Strengthen Its Role Within the University of Houston System
The University of Houston-Downtown holds a unique distinction within the UH System. It remains the second-largest University in UHS and the most diverse. UHD must continue to assert its identity as a distinct university within the UH System, serving a specific mission and offering distinguishable academic programming.

Support of UHD’s Distance Sites
UHD has increased access to higher education through course offerings at UHD Northwest and Lone Star College campuses. Students, faculty and staff at these sites should be reminded that they too are members of the University Community. Regular, inclusive communications and support can make a difference in ensuring that all students, faculty and staff are aware of their roles at UHD regardless of their respective locations.

Leadership Culture
Shared governance remains a priority as does clear, consistent communication across the campus to ensure constituent group voices are heard. Also important is the consistency of leadership at the University. Both the University and the UH System must strive to retain Presidents and Provosts who will steer the institution toward bold new horizons.

Retaining Talent
UHD must work to address employee turnover and equitable salaries. UHD already is addressing this issue with a recent market study to examine salary structures, and campus leaders should continue to take strides in ensuring a productive employee base remains in place.

Improve Campus Transparency and Integrity
Clear communication is key in ensuring internal stakeholders are informed and confident in administrative decisions and strategies. The University will continue to strive for transparency in its decision-making and strategic planning process.

Physical Accessibility
The University will continue to support all of its community members by remaining ADA-compliant and continuing to evaluate its facilities, parking lots and other areas to ensure UHD remains accessible to all who arrive on campus.

New Attitudes and Mindsets
UHD Community members must be willing to accept new ways of looking at issues (and avoiding complacency) to effectively serve an evolving student base and embrace emerging technologies relevant to higher education. Additionally, time must be spent in developing updated strategies that further support the mission of the institution and the success of its students. Further, the University must work to make staff members aware of their responsibilities to the University through updated job descriptions and support their career aspirations with professional development opportunities.

Competition with Regional Recruiting as Other Institutions Receive Hispanic Serving Institution Designations
A Hispanic Serving Institution designation is not exclusive. As other institutions increase Hispanic enrollment, UHD faces competition in attracting quality students. UHD must continue to make prospective students from regional high schools aware of the academic opportunities that await them at its campuses.

UH System Limiting Program Growth
The University must work with the UH System to ensure that students receive high-demand academic programs that prepare them for the workforce. The institution must do so while not competing with existing UH System degree offerings yet providing its students with value-added programs that contribute to the region’s economic landscape.

Staying Competitive with New Degrees
UHD often can be limited in launching degree programs that compete with other UHS institutions. The University must remain proactive and innovative in establishing new programs while supporting students’ career goals.

Enhancing Connections Between Deans and Enrollment Planning
Those leading UHD’s colleges must balance and focus equal energies on academics and the strategic process of managing college enrollment and contributing to the recruitment process.

Bolstering Student Standards
UHD must continue to overcome its previous reputation as an open admissions institution and assert its role as a university of choice for students within the region.

Enhance Research Opportunities
Research is an essential element of UHD’s academic composition. Whether it’s sponsored faculty research or undergraduate research, the University must continue to make available opportunities for critical investigations and studies that support issues affecting the world at large.

There is much uncertainty with regards to how UHD will be affected by the upcoming I-45 expansion and North Canal projects. The University will continue to work with community partners and civic leaders to ensure its community is informed as this project develops.