UHV to lose nursing school; Victoria leaders question move

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Feb. 27, 2014 at 6:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 28, 2014 at 9:01 p.m.

The University of Houston System approved this week taking the University of Houston-Victoria's School of Nursing and placing it under a new university in Sugar Land.

The recommendation, which also will make the University of Houston the sole provider of programs at the UH Sugar Land campus, was approved Wednesday by the UH Board of Regents. UH officials said they made the move to give Sugar Land its own university and promised the change would not harm UHV's growth toward being a destination university.

The transition is expected to take place in the next two to five years, according to a Sugar Land task force final report.

UHV President Phil Castille said he was not a member of the UH-Sugar Land Task Force that proposed the change, but he asked to be on it.

"We at UHV are still studying the task force recommendations, which were approved yesterday by the UH Board of Regents," Castille said Thursday. "We have many unanswered questions, which we hope will be addressed by the UH System during the implementation stage of this transition."

Victoria resident Omar Rachid, a member of the UHV President's Regional Advisory Board, was a member of the task force.

"This will actually give the University of Houston-Victoria the opportunity to concentrate on growing the number of face-to-face students here on campus," said Rachid, a physician recruiter at Citizens Medical Center.

"The University of Houston-Sugar Land wants to be associated with a tier-one university, so this plan basically gives the people in Sugar Land an opportunity to fulfill their desires and at the same time gives the University of Houston-Victoria the opportunity to concentrate on downward expansion," Rachid said.

UHV expanded in 2010-11 from an upper-level and graduate university to offer classes for freshmen and sophomores.

Bill Blanchard, DeTar Healthcare System CEO, and other community leaders have questioned in the past UH's commitment to the Victoria campus. He also criticized this week's move.

"Relocation of the School of Nursing away from Victoria is a very large mistake," Blanchard said. "That program was developed by Victoria leadership to provide master's and bachelor's degrees in order to prepare nurses to serve as leaders and teachers in our local institutions."

Aylene Martinez, a University of Houston-Victoria student, said she was stunned to learn the UHV School of Nursing would be moved out of UHV.

"That's going to affect a lot of people," Martinez, 34, said. "I just spoke to a local physician in town (who said) that he prefers to hire nurse practitioners that have actually gone to school in the local area instead of taking courses online."

The UHV School of Nursing is housed in Sugar Land, which has been a teaching center rather than a stand-alone campus, as the task force recommends.

Martinez said she chose to attend UHV for its low cost and to keep her family in her hometown.

"I feel like the community is growing," Martinez said. "And with the growth, we're going to need a lot more health care professionals in our area."

Martinez, a senior graduating from the School of Nursing this spring, said she was planning to apply for her master's degree through UHV's School of Nursing.

"Now, that's going to change, obviously," Martinez said.



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