Second potential UHV president speaks at candidate forum

April 26, 2011 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated April 25, 2011 at 11:26 p.m.

From working in Louisiana to Washington to Hawaii, Philip Castille said it seems he's been preparing to come to the University of Houston-Victoria his whole life.

"I am completely consistent with the mission of this university, which is to provide access to students to a quality higher education," the UHV presidential candidate said. "That's a core value worth having and worth defending and worth being an administrator for."

Castille, who's the special assistant to the chancellor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, was the second potential president to visit the UHV campus. He offered a glimpse into his professional experience and personal life to a roomful of spectators in the multipurpose room at the University on Tuesday afternoon.

Candidates were asked to identify opportunities and challenges they see at UHV. Castille first mentioned dwindling revenues combined with increased enrollment and said the issue is one he's become familiar with in his some 30 years in higher education.

"The public is still in favor of higher education, but it wants to see entrepreneurship," he said. "There's also a bigger need than ever for need-based scholarships, and that's going to call for more community support."

Castille mentioned his involvement in making universities more efficient and in generating external revenue through collaboration with local high schools and securing private scholarships and endowments.

"I'm very open to thinking outside the box, and if you have a good idea, I want to hear it," he said. "I know Victoria has stepped up in a lot of ways with the advent of downward expansion to develop endowments for scholarships. The public is going to have to do more of that to ensure we get the best students to come here."

Castille already has been involved in expansion within the University of Houston system. He worked for 13 years in the university's downtown campus. He said he grew to think very highly of the system, his colleagues and their shared mission to provide quality education.

"While I was there, UH downtown added degree program after degree program," he told the audience. "I will say this: The University of Houston main campus did not always approve of what we were doing. We didn't always have their blessings, sometimes, well, you know the story. But on the whole, the university grew and added students and added different kinds of students."

In response to a question from the audience, Castille briefly mentioned the possibility of the university changing its affiliation to the Texas A&M University system and talk of whether UHV could become a destination university.

"I don't know the answers to those questions, but I do know this - that more and more students in Texas, and many of them are minority students, are going to need access to higher education," Castille said. "We're going to have to work hard to decide what's the best way to provide them with a quality education to give Texas an educated citizenry and an educated workforce."

UHV Professor Sandy Venneman asked Castille how he would strengthen the relationship between the university and Victoria College? Castille highlighted his experience with a similar relationship at his current university, and Venneman seemed satisfied.

"I'm looking for someone who can practice shared faculty governing. Those synergetic relationships help build the university," she said. "The thing I most like about this candidate is that he has a good sense of humor ... It gets you through a lot in life."



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