Advocate editorial board opinion: UH fails to answer basic questions about Victoria campus' future

By the Advocate Editorial Board
March 15, 2014 at 4:05 p.m.
Updated March 14, 2014 at 10:15 p.m.

When you have good news, you tell everyone.

You don't refuse to comment, issue prepared statements and tell your staff to forgo their First Amendment rights and speak only through the marketing department.

So, please excuse us for being skeptical that the University of Houston has delivered good news about the future of the Victoria campus. We want to believe, but the UH Sugar Land Task Force report raises many troubling questions that have yet to be answered.

The $9 million - or more - question is this: How does UHV continue to grow with so much of its revenue taken away?

We put the figure at $9 million because that's the annual budget for the two UHV programs based primarily in Sugar Land - business and nursing. We acknowledge that figure could be off because UH definitely hasn't defined the financial impact.

However, we think $9 million annually is a conservative estimate. After all, 53 percent of UHV's faculty work in Sugar Land. If UHV can no longer offer programs in Sugar Land, as the regents have decreed, then what happens to all of these programs? How can UHV continue to offer nursing programs after its school is taken over by UH? How can the business school continue to offer its nationally recognized programs when most of its faculty work in Sugar Land?

You would think these basic questions would be answered before UH took such a drastic move.

In prepared statements, Chancellor Renu Khator and other UH officials say UHV will "be furnished with adequate funds to carry out its important mission to become a destination university in the city of Victoria."

The catch is neither Khator nor anyone else at the university will define "adequate." They won't grant interviews at all.

"While we respect the Advocate's right to ask its questions, some we have received cannot be answered at this time," Richard Bonnin, UH executive director of media relations, wrote. "A UH Sugar Land Transition Committee will be appointed in the near future to gather information, hear from the public, study the issues and make recommendations. We cannot speculate on its eventual conclusions, nor should we."

The questions the Advocate is asking all relate to the financial impact of this move. We hope our in-depth report in this edition helps all understand how critical the answers are to the future of UHV and to Victoria.

It's a journalism axiom to follow the money. That's where you usually find the real news.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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