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UHV interim president makes pitch to community (w/video)

By Carolina Astrain
June 12, 2014 at 1:12 a.m.

University of Houston-Victoria Interim President R. Vic Morgan, right, cheers to the crowd along with the Jaguars' mascot, Jax, after throwing the first pitch during the Victoria Generals game Tuesday.

University of Houston-Victoria Interim President R. Vic Morgan, right, cheers to the crowd along with the Jaguars' mascot, Jax, after throwing the first pitch during the Victoria Generals game Tuesday.

Clad in a red polo and cap, R. Vic Morgan, University of Houston-Victoria interim president, approached the pitcher's mound.

"As a community, we really appreciate Victoria," Morgan said at a Victoria Generals game at Riverside Stadium. "We want to be partners with you; we want to be partners with the city of Victoria."

Morgan, who began serving as interim leader in mid-April, said he hopes to be a calming influence on the campus.

Former UHV President Phil Castille resigned after receiving a vote of no confidence from the UHV Faculty Senate in March.

"I'm here to improve morale," Morgan said. "We'll be developing a long-range plan, which isn't something normally done while an interim is in charge, and yet some of that will happen while I'm here."

As the first in his family to attend a four-year university, Morgan said he's eager to work with the students of UHV - 60 percent of which are first-generation college students.

"It took me a long time to realize what college is all about," Morgan said. "I lived at home my first semester, but after I moved into the dorms is when my college life really began."

Morgan attended Howard Payne University, about 14 minutes away from his hometown, Bangs, 190 miles southwest of Dallas.

"I didn't start college until a week after classes had started," Morgan said. "Someone - a newspaper journalist - had to take me by the collar to get there."

As interim president, Morgan said he hopes to instill the same type of encouragement to prospective students by strengthening recruitment efforts.

"We've hired more staff to help with following up with students after they've applied or expressed interest," he said. "Students are just like anyone else; they'll come if they know they're wanted."

Starting Sept. 1, according to a UH System news release, the portion of the UHV School of Nursing located at the University of Houston Sugar Land location will be absorbed by the University of Houston.

To combat an anticipated loss in enrollment from its nursing program, Morgan said UHV will focus on building freshmen and sophomore enrollment and continuing the university's path toward downward expansion.

"UHV still needs to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up," Morgan said. "After that, then it can start looking for a president."

Morgan will earn an annual salary of $200,000 and a $2,000-per-month car and housing allowance during his time as UHV's interim leader.

In February, the UH System Board of Regents approved recommendations set forth by a UH Sugar Land task force aimed at dissolving the Fort Bend County campus' ties with UHV and extending its services to the University of Houston main campus, which was named a Tier One university by the Carnegie Foundation in 2011.

The news of the coming separation and loss of operations at the UH Sugar Land campus stunned and angered local leadership in Victoria County.

"We want to build back the trust between the system and the community," Morgan said. "UHV is going to come out of this stronger when it's all said and done."

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