Wow! The past ten days have been crazy. Lots of activity. Lots of meetings. Last week I met with former Texas Lt. Governor Bill Hobby, a truly impressive man who has left his mark on Texas, the University of Houston System and UHD.
This week classes began. We had lots of students unable to find parking spots, elevators that didn’t work, and new students and faculty wandering the halls trying to find their classrooms. It was a typical first week.
But, I have had amazing experiences the past seven days. I had an opportunity to meet with State Rep. Sylvester Turner, who strongly supports UHD. Later in the week, Laura Murrillo, president and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, interviewed me for an upcoming edition of her new television show, “Contacto.” The next day, I attended the Hispanic Chamber’s breakfast meeting.
I spent time with Texas Southern University President John Rudley who is transforming Texas Southern University. I am very impressed with his team and what he has accomplished in a short period of time. We discussed several possible joint projects such as joint research and faculty exchanges.
Friday, I visited with the Model UN team and addressed the Scholars Academy Orientation. Both groups are doing amazing things. The Model UN Team consists of some of the brightest students on campus. They take seriously their role as representatives of UHD. In fact, last year, their first year on campus, they sent teams and won awards in Mexico, New York, and Paris. They have formed a Houston Model UN competition, with teams coming from around the world, hosted by UHD.
The Scholars Academy brings together undergraduate students interested in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and engages them in research with faculty. This is a great opportunity and not one readily found at many four-year universities. These students go on to present their research projects at national conferences. They also attend sessions that prepares them for the GRE and graduate study. The program has great students and truly dedicated faculty.
In my presentation, I emphasized how the U.S. is losing its competitive edge to other countries and is being outpaced in the production of scientists and engineers by both China and India. I told them that we want them to succeed at UHD and, in fact, to go on to get a master’s or Ph.D. I congratulated them for being in the program and ended by saying, “You are the future who can help America maintain its innovation edge, so that it can continue as the strongest economy in the world.”
Later, I joined others from UHD and headed off to view the new Lone Star College site off Texas 249 that was part of the Hewlett-Packard complex (formerly the Compaq site). Lone Star College, UH, UHD, and several other universities will offer degrees there. It's an impressive property. A million square feet. Houston needs it to meet the demand for higher education there. Houston’s Northwest Corridor will see growth of 2 million new residents in the next decade. Demand is already growing for bachelor’s degrees and the demand will continue to grow through 2020.
We have a lot of work to do before we start programs there. We are still negotiating the lease terms. Renovations have to get under way and faculty must be hired. Nevertheless, we are on the ground floor ready to go!
This has been a fabulous first week of classes. Headaches, sure, but we are moving forward. Stay Tuned!