Why should Victoria be home to destination university?

Gabe Semenza

March 14, 2011 at 7 p.m.
Updated March 13, 2011 at 10:14 p.m.

In the fifth part of an ongoing series, the Advocate answers questions related to HB 2556, legislation filed last week by Rep. Geanie Morrison.

If passed, the bill would change the University of Houston-Victoria's name to Texas A&M University-Victoria, and move everything and everyone under its umbrella into the A&M system.

Q: Is Victoria the right place for a destination university?

Supporters of switching systems say a so-called destination university is one filled with face-to-face students and the bustle of a more traditional college setting. They want UHV's campus to better reflect this vision, and to one day boast 5,000 to 10,000 students.

But why do they think Victoria is the proper place for such a school?

First, Victoria is located between four major metro areas - Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi. Houston and San Antonio are two of the nation's fastest-growing cities.

"Research done by UHV a few years ago showed students wanted to be two to four hours from home," said Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp. "The students wanted to be far enough from home so they felt like they were on their own, but close enough that they could visit home, too."

Victoria fits this attractive distance-from-home requirement for many students, including those in the Valley.

Secondly, a vibrant, expanded university would help to close the state's education gap, especially among minority students, Morrison says.

Recently released U.S. Census Bureau data show the Hispanic population is booming in Texas and the Crossroads.

"Where are those young people going to go to school?" Fowler asked. "Whether they're from the Rio Grande Valley or Houston, we're positioned well to serve those markets. First-generation college students won't feel intimidated to come to school in Victoria."

That's another reason supporters say Victoria is prime ground. Here, students from the metro areas could enjoy college in a less-hectic setting, and students from rural areas will feel right at home, too, they say.

"Major universities are crowded," Fowler said. "We're going to have to put those students somewhere. Why not in Victoria?"

Q: Will UHV's business school remain AACSB-accredited?

"AACSB" is an acronym for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The association accredits business schools that meet stringent requirements.

Only about 25 percent of the country's business schools - including the UHV School of Business - boast the accreditation, said Don Smith, the university's interim president.

"It's prestigious," Smith said. "It's a great value to students to have that."

Amy Ponzillo, an AACSB International spokeswoman, said, via e-mail, the association talked to a UHV dean regarding the possible system switch.

"We have no concerns about the change affecting the school's accreditation status," Ponzillo said. "The only conditions that could create concerns are those that affect the school's mission, resources to achieve their mission, faculty resources, students served and/or major program portfolio impacts."



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