Students worry about losing programs, hope for stronger UHV

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

March 15, 2014 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated March 15, 2014 at 10:16 p.m.

Elisa Garcia takes the moves and cuts to the University of Houston-Victoria's programs personally.

A 2011 nursing graduate, Garcia is yearning for answers after a vote by the UH System Board of Regents to cut the university's program offerings at Sugar Land and to move UHV's nursing program into the UH System.

"Is the University of Houston trying to tell us they don't want us anymore?" asked Garcia, 34, of Louise. "It's kind of one-sided. It looks like it is more for Sugar Land than UHV."

In a statement, UH officials said the change would allow UHV to focus on becoming a destination university at the Victoria campus.

For Garcia, though, the change, particularly to the nursing program, is disheartening.

Her success in finding a job with the Midcoast Medical Clinic in Wharton is owed to the university's program, she said.

Seeing that same program cut three years after graduation and knowing others may not be afforded the same opportunities is difficult to wrap her head around, she said.

"I was actually in shock," she said. "They have so much potential. To have something that big, and they just cut it - to me, in the long run, it's going to hurt so much."

A UH System implementation team is being formed to continue the School of Nursing's mission, School of Nursing Dean Kathryn Tart wrote in an email.

"The School of Nursing will continue to enroll students in the summer, fall and beyond," she wrote.

"No losses" in enrollment numbers is expected, Tart wrote, adding that the school has 196 students enrolled this semester.

The UH System's goal to have UHV stand on its own but still be part of the system is something Tart supports.

"My reaction was to see the larger vision the UH System has as directed by the board of regents," she continued.

Other faculty, including the dean of the School of Business Administration and the dean of the School of Education and Human Development, did not return Advocate phone messages or emails. Other faculty deferred comment to the university's marketing department.

But the public, especially the school's current students, need clear answers, Garcia said.

"Where are people going to go to find a nursing program?" Garcia said. "All students are going to be seeing is that UHV does not have a program."

The future of the university really depends on how much the task force wants to fight for UHV, Garcia said.

"The community, the teachers and the programs have so much support," she said. "But how hard is the task force going to fight to keep UHV standing?"

For Brooke Brown, the School of Nursing is not UHV's only important program.

The university was the right choice for her because it was close to home and had a good online presence, said the 25-year-old Victoria student, who is in her first semester as an English major.

While she sees losing the nursing program as a step down for many students, she also sees this as an opportunity for the university to grow its other programs.

"I think we can have just as many students interested in other programs," she said. "Nursing is a popular major, but it's not for everyone."

Growing existing programs can prove just as successful, she said.

"I think there are ways to make it beneficial that would not make it such a tragedy," she said.

Like Garcia, she, too, is confused about what is in store for the university.

"I think it would be great if they provided more information about what's going on," Brown said. "Certainly, they should communicate every step of the way."

Garcia said she foresees a bumpy road.

"I would like to see UHV try to stand on its own," she said. "Losing that much ... it's going to be harder to come back from, but I think they can do it."



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