Advocate editorial board opinion: UHV supporters know answer to question

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Dec. 18, 2010 at 6:18 a.m.

The time for questions is over. The time for action is now.

The Crossroads Commission on Education announced last week that it wanted to survey the community on what direction to take the future of higher education here. Of course, those following this issue closely know the real question is whether the UH System is the right one to grow the Victoria campus.

And that question already has been answered by the actions of UH, which has no history or interest in operating a system outside of the Houston metro area. Understandably, UH is focused on becoming a Tier 1 institution - a matter of prestige and federal funding - and not on growing higher education two hours down the road in Victoria.

Crossroads commission members should already have a laundry list of examples why UH is not the right fit for Victoria. What they need to do now is to show a powerful commitment to a new system such as Texas A&M or Texas Tech that has a track record and an interest in building a statewide system.

This unified front is critical to show the new system the community will do whatever is needed to help the Victoria campus succeed. With the right partner and vision, this campus can triple in size within the next decade and better meet the state's "Closing the Gap" initiative of expanding higher education opportunities across Texas. Victoria is nestled nicely between four large cities, offering an attractive option for students there and in the Rio Grande Valley.

Leaders must act quickly before the legislative session starts next month. That's why the time for asking questions is over. Instead, commission leaders need to be lining up legislative support.

Naysayers point to the bleak fiscal picture facing the Legislature, but they're missing the point. Although state funding is important, the key step is to realign the Victoria campus with a system that shares the community's vision for growth.

Most commissioners already know UH isn't that system. As member Jeff Lyons said at last week's meeting, "We're spitting in the wind with them."

Let's quit spitting and start stumping. While wishing UH well on its quest for Tier 1 status, let's politely part ways and look to the future.

No issue is more vital to the future of the Crossroads. A vibrant destination university would forever change the face of this community.

There's no question about that.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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