HOUSTON – Residents in the greater Houston area soon will have additional access to higher education opportunities. To accommodate population growth in Fort Bend County and the workforce needs of the community, the University of Houston will increase its degree offerings in the city of Sugar Land.
The UH System Board of Regents approved a measure that will expand UH’s academic and administrative presence at the system’s Sugar Land teaching center starting in January 2012. Following approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the UH System at Sugar Land teaching center would be renamed the UH Sugar Land Campus. UH will ultimately serve as the primary provider of academic programs at the UH Sugar Land Campus and will oversee its operations.
The measure represents a change in administrative ownership of UH Sugar Land from the University of Houston System to the University of Houston. The University of Houston will manage the campus in Sugar Land, in close collaboration with its partners in the UH System, including UH Victoria (UHV). The array of programs currently offered in Sugar Land by UH Clear Lake (UHCL) and UHV will continue. The administrative change will facilitate a net increase in programs from UH, UHCL and UHV, UH System officials said.
“This is a ‘win-win,’ said UH Victoria President Philip Castille. “There will be no diminishment of our program offerings, and our programs will continue to meet the needs of Fort Bend County.”
Two UH System regents who live in Victoria and Sugar Land, respectively, agreed.
“This represents more UH – not less UHV,” said Regent Roger Welder, who is from Victoria. “It allows us to offer more services at UH Sugar Land, which is hungry for more of what we provide at UH. We’re thrilled to be able to meet that demand.”
Regent Jarvis Hollingsworth said, “As a UH System regent and a resident of Sugar Land, I am proud of the board’s decision. I think the Sugar Land community and UH will benefit from this partnership. This would not have been possible without support from the city of Sugar Land and the community. This is what it’s all about. Universities and communities working together to serve students.”
John Antel, UH provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said, “We have a plan in place with the people in Sugar Land to build a larger UH presence in that area. We’re working with the community to accommodate the needs of its workforce by offering a range of new programs focused on technology, business and education.”
Antel added that UH will start a minimum of nine programs at the UH Sugar Land Campus over the next three years. This will double the number of UH programs offered at this site. Among the UH degree programs recently added at the site are:
- Master of Science, Human Resource Development
- Master of Science, Project Management
- Doctor of Education, Professional Leadership
- Post Baccalaureate Certificate, Speech Pathology Assistant
“Our goal is to deliver programs that directly respond to this region’s workforce and economic development needs,” said Marshall Schott, UH associate vice president for university outreach. “There is a demand in this area for graduate degree programs. A large number of professionals have bachelor’s or post-baccalaureate degrees and want to enhance their careers. This campus will help deliver master’s programs to residents of Sugar Land and nearby areas.”
Fort Bend County is among the fastest-growing areas within greater Houston. According to recent census data, its population increased by 65 percent over the past decade. In the past five years, the number of Fort Bend County residents attending a Texas public university has increased by 35 percent. Approximately 18,000 students in Fort Bend County attend Texas public universities, and 26 percent of these students are enrolled at UH.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the city of Sugar Land and UH,” said Sugar Land Mayor James A. Thompson, who attended the meeting and addressed the board. “To have strengthened access to UH’s programs is a great thing. We have a very strong economic development group in Fort Bend County that was very involved in getting these programs here, and we look forward to these academic offerings complementing our local economy.”
Located in Sugar Land at the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 South and University Boulevard, the 200-acre campus hosts 15 UH degree programs and four certifications, as well as programs from UH Clear Lake, UH Victoria and Wharton County Junior College. Classes are delivered in the 57,000-square-foot Albert and Mamie George Building and the 145,000-square-foot Brazos Hall. Among the academic resources available to students is the University Branch Library, which is part of Fort Bend County Libraries.
“UH is invested in providing greater access to higher education within the greater Houston area,” Schott said. “To do this, we are building partnerships with community members. Collaborations with business leaders, the public sector and residents will help pave the path toward academic excellence for this campus.”