Advocate editorial board opinion: Question for UH regents: What is roadmap for success?

By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 28, 2010 at 12:28 a.m.
Updated May 29, 2010 at 12:29 a.m.

If you don't know where you're going, you probably won't like where you end up.

This axiom came to mind after the University of Houston regents offered almost no direction at their recent meeting in Victoria. The regents seemed to say, "We support your efforts to turn the University of Houston-Victoria into a destination university, but we will do nothing to help."

We hope we heard wrong.

The community has spoken loudly and repeatedly about its desire to do whatever it takes to grow UHV. Leaders turned out again at the regents' meeting to express their willingness to do everything necessary to expand the opportunity for higher education in South Texas and beyond.

UHV officials have mapped out an aggressive plan for growth that could max out its current 20-acre campus within five years. Student enrollment on the Victoria campus is projected to double during that time.

Because of how slowly the legislative process works for getting money for new land or buildings, UHV supporters must act now to even be ready for the campus to expand in five years. That's why it's not at all premature to plan for a need that does not yet exist.

The upcoming session is when the legislature typically considers requests for capital expenditures. Legislators generally do this every other session, meaning the next opportunity will be in four years.

If UHV supporters wait four years, the momentum of growth could be lost. Any new construction might not happen for another decade or more.

This explains the urgency for the UH regents to commit now to a plan for UHV. Throughout its 27-year history, UHV has struggled to succeed because it is the state's lowest-funded university.

The UH System signaled it is ready for greater things for UHV during the last legislative session.

With UH's support, the university added underclassmen and started down the path of becoming a destination university.

That path will lead nowhere if the UH regents offer no direction.

Ultimately, that direction carries a price tag, too.

If the UH System wants to spend all of its energy and resources on turning the University of Houston into a Tier 1 institution, that's understandable.

If UHV is not in its long-range plans, the community needs to hear that.

Community leaders feel strongly that this region needs to expand opportunities for higher education.

The state has said the same with its "Closing the Gaps" goal.

Victoria is ideally located between four metropolitan areas to serve that growing need. If the UH System doesn't see this opportunity, other university systems likely will.

Staunch UHV supporter Claud Jacobs told the regents, in his plainspoken way, our preference is to stick with who brung us to the dance. After the regents meeting, though, we're not sure whether we're even at the dance or outside in the cold.

The regents don't have to fill our dance card, but they can at least show us the way to the party.

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



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