Today, I met with UHD’s staff of Student Services and Enrollment Management. I made the point that while recruitment is important, and clearly we need to enroll and admit more students, we also have to do a better job of retaining students and helping them to graduate.
Students (and their families) make a huge sacrifice to go to college. Many work full-time. Most work at least half-time. Many students must take on indebtedness to go to college: student loans, parent loans, bank loans, and credit cards. The debts stack up. So we want to do better in helping students to graduate.
I asked the SSEM staff, “If you were the president of UHD for one day, what would be the first thing you would do to improve UHD?” I made it clear that I am asking for input. Of course, we don't know how much money we will have so we can't do all of these things, but certainly we can identify some critical areas that we should address. Over the next few months, I will holding focus groups and initiate a campus-wide dialogue. This is part of that process.
Several ideas were raised that could help create community on campus and improve student retention. Here are some of them:
• Build a Student Union with space for parking, childcare, and office for student organizations
• Increase parking and improve the food options in the cafeteria
• Build a dormitory or negotiate special rates for UHD students for rooms in nearby apartments
• Bring in more international students and provide more opportunities for UHD students to study abroad
• Increase scholarships, particularly for transfer students and those close to graduating
• Offer more hybrid classes, full degree programs online, and more evening and weekend courses
• Initiate early intervention programs so that faculty inform advisers of failing students and those students who are not attending class
• Engage students with service learning courses and internships, where they both improve society and earn credit for it
• Expand support for student athletic teams, including a field where they can play softball, football, rugby, etc.
• Establish a unified freshmen experience: with a Fall event for all freshmen students, a common reading experience, and learning communities
I will be initiating a survey of students, faculty, staff, and community. Here are the questions and I welcome you to submit your response to me:
1. What things does UHD do exceptionally well? What makes UHD distinct from other institutions serving Houston or South Texas?
2. What could UHD do better? What would you recommend we improve?
3. What should we stop doing or do differently? Is there anything UHD is currently doing that is not productive or that is ineffective?
4. What opportunities exist for UHD that we are not currently tapping (resources, partnerships, unaddressed needs, niche markets, etc.)?
5. If you were president for a day what one thing would you do to make UHD a better place?
To complete the survey online, go to the survey or fax your comments to UHD President at (713) 221-8075.