Leaders want to improve communication between UH System, community

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

March 26, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 25, 2014 at 10:26 p.m.

Don Pozzi

Don Pozzi

Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi wants the University of Houston System to improve the way it communicates with local leadership.

"If the UH System leadership had taken the time to communicate with individuals and groups in Victoria, then we wouldn't be in this situation," Pozzi said.

The judge made references to the recent changes approved by the UH System Board of Regents. The changes remove the University of Houston-Victoria from the University of Houston-Sugar Land campus and then transfer the UHV School of Nursing to the UH System.

UHV was the first higher education institution to offer degrees out of the Sugar Land campus 20 years ago.

Victoria College President Tom Butler said he hoped to quell any fears that the loss of the UHV School of Nursing would create a shortage of nurses in the Crossroads region.

At a Victoria Economic Development Corp. partnership meeting Tuesday, Butler explained the college's nursing program to attendees.

"We dominate the production of nurses in this area," Butler said. "It's wrong to say that Victoria will lose any nurses because of the changes coming to UHV."

Pozzi applauded Butler for his presentation but then urged the UH System leadership to follow in his footsteps.

Omar Rachid, UHV President's Advisory Board chairman, defended the UH System, saying it relied on UHV President Phil Castille, who resigned last week, to communicate with leadership.

"You can't blame the UH System for what the UHV President was supposed to do," Rachid said in response to Pozzi's statements.

Rachid was a member of the UH-Sugar Land Task Force, which drafted the approved changes for UHV.

In a previous interview, Castille wrote that he asked to be included on the task force but was denied membership.

"Omar Rachid is only a volunteer at UHV, and I appreciate his service," Castille wrote in an emailed response to Rachid's remarks Tuesday. "But he has no idea what communication has occurred between UH and the UHV president's office, nor would I expect him to."

Rep. Geanie Morrison recently questioned why no elected Victoria officials were asked to be on the task force when the Mayor of Sugar Land and the Fort Bend County Judge were allowed to participate.

Pozzi said, "I hope and encourage the system to make sure that Victoria leadership becomes included, so that we can focus on making UHV a destination university."

Both Morrison and Pozzi said they would be willing to serve on the UH-Sugar Land Transition Committee, which is aimed at easing the transition for the Sugar Land and Victoria campuses.

"The proper communication was not there regardless of who was supposed to provide it," Pozzi said. "If they looked at that as being his (Castille) job, then somebody should have followed up and seen that it was done."

Butler continued his presentation by saying, "We're not here to talk about UHV; we're here to talk about Victoria College. You guys pay for us, you need to know what your college is doing, and we want you to know just how good we are."

Castille described himself as being a strong advocate for UHV and the Crossroads.

"Any deal that transfers the UHV School of Nursing at Sugar Land to the UH main campus is one-sided at best," Castille wrote. "At the very least, UHV must be compensated for these losses and made whole again. But to my knowledge, so far, nothing concrete is being offered."

Charlie Alcorn, UHV director of corporate and foundation relations, thanked Butler for his remarks and said he would be relaying community concerns regarding UHV to the UH System.

After the meeting, Rachid was asked by phone whether he communicated the UH-Sugar Land Task Force work to Victoria leaders.

"Our job was to tackle the issue at hand," Rachid said. "We were not tasked with communicating the change."

Clarification: The University of Houston -Victoria School of Nursing at the University of Houston Sugar Land campus is being transferred to the University of Houston. These facts were unclear in the story.



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