UHV supporter details problems with UH

April 1, 2011 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated March 31, 2011 at 11:01 p.m.

With each passing month, it becomes clearer that the University of Houston System has no long-range plans for the University of Houston-Victoria.

In all of its mission statements, news releases and in the fall edition of The University of Houston Magazine, the UH System continues to say their priority is to be a tier-one university and to be the best metropolitan university in the country. These stated priorities do not include UHV.

Consider the following:

They never wanted downward expansion; they only agreed after our community took the project to the state Legislature.

Early in 2010, the UH System transferred millions of dollars from operational funds to the UH Endowment Fund. Those funds could have helped UHV expand and educate more young people. This was done to improve their outlook for tier-one status.

They rejected the gift of 100 acres of local land for a Victoria campus.

In a meeting with the Crossroads Commission on Education, Chairman Welcome Wilson said that students would not come to Victoria; therefore the system would not build any site until students arrived and the community raised $250,000 for scholarships money. The money was raised in two days. Yet Wilson refused to build. Instead, three weeks later, the UH system approved a $140 million project to expand the UH football stadium by 8,000 seats. And another $20 million was approved to improve the basketball facility.

When the UH System came to Victoria for one of their meetings, the Crossroads Commission on Education presented their year-long study and plan for UHV. Chairman Wilson said the plan was flawed, that the projection numbers were incorrect. However, the Texas Coordinating Board said the figures were correct and met state guidelines. In a closed meeting with the Commission after the open Board of Regents meeting, he again said that no money or plans were to go forward as the UH System did not believe that students would want to come to UHV. However, more than 1,200 freshmen applied; more than 400 accepted.

Their engineers approved the old Holiday Inn complex for a freshmen dorm -- failing to identify mold so bad in one building it had to be torn down. Chairman Wilson said it was just a mistake. This cost the system about $4 million.

After being pressed by the Crossroads Commission and local businesses, the UH System presented a plan to expand the University at its current site. This plan included constructing buildings on land owned by Victoria College, but a Victoria College spokesman said they are not selling any land or partnering to build any buildings. The UH System had failed to consult any local UHV, Victoria College, city or county officials or the Crossroads Education Committee. The plan called for a parking garage at the cost of about $11,000 per car. The buildings they proposed cost $490 per square foot, based on a project in California. The plan did not consider congestion near Citizens Hospital or Victoria College; they had no plans for a dorm or for growth.

At that time, the UH System said they would revise their plan for Victoria. To date, this has not been done.

Only three weeks before the first freshman class, the Chancellor removed UHV President Tim Hudson, who had championed UHV's downward expansion and freshman recruiting.

As an example of the UH system's ambivalence toward Victoria, UHV has been a four-year university for two years. The UH website only recently made the change.

We have supported UHV because of great leadership: Tim Hudson, quality education of students, the sports program and because of the potential economic benefit for Victoria. With more than 12 million people living within two hours of Victoria, we are positioned to be a destination university with a great future. Clearly, Victoria must find a new partner university - Texas A&M - which shares Victoria's vision of growth of a destination university in Victoria and who is willing to help secure the needed resources.

Claud Jacobs is a long-time supporter of the University of Houston-Victoria and a partner in Lodestone Financial Services.



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