In stormy financial times, the University of Houston-Victoria remains a safe harbor for its employees and the Victoria economy.
While many major local employers are reporting massive layoffs to survive a difficult economic situation, UHV has no plans to cut back on its workforce, school leaders said. Instead, UHV is in the midst of a period of sustained growth.
“Hard economic times don’t hurt the education field like they do so many other industries,” UHV President Tim Hudson said.
In fact, many people who lose their jobs go back to school to update their skills and become more competitive in the job market. Such students often shop for the best educational value like that provided by UHV.
“Education is one of the best places to put your money when the markets are down,” Hudson said. “An investment in an education pays dividends for a lifetime.”
That’s good news for the approximately 480 full- and part-time employees who work at UHV. The university workforce is similar to that of a major manufacturer and includes accountants, recruiters, information technology specialists, groundskeepers and many other professions, in addition to educators. Many of those positions include fully paid medical and other benefits.
“UHV is a great employer that encourages its staff members to continually further both their professional knowledge and their academic achievements,” said Stanley Lester, network specialist and 2008 UHV Employee of the Year. “I’m glad to be a part of the future of this university.”
Employees enjoy industry-leading annual raises, scholarships to help them advance their education, and paid time off to pursue good physical health, Hudson noted.
UHV’s presence also brings stability to the local economy, since the middle-class income (averaging about $44,000 a year) those employees earn creates numerous other jobs in the local economy.
A 2006 study by economic forecaster Barton Smith found that UHV directly contributed $52 million to the greater Victoria economy, with an overall economic impact of $152 million.
At that time, UHV was responsible for 1,151 spinoff jobs.
Since 2006, UHV enrollment has increased almost 20 percent, from 2,652 in the fall 2006 semester to 3,173 in fall of 2008. The spring 2009 semester is trending to set a new enrollment record.
“During the last three years, we’ve proportionately increased the amount of money we spend on things like equipment, facilities and personnel to maintain the level of excellence at UHV,” Hudson said. “Our economic impact grows with our enrollment.”
UHV’s presence in the community also increases the overall education level of the area workforce, which makes Victoria a more attractive location for new investments, said Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp.
“UHV is a great asset to the local economy,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons why Victoria hasn’t been hit nearly as hard as some other parts of the country.”
Because of its economic impact, UHV touches the lives of almost everyone living in the Victoria area, said Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.
An expansion of the school to a four-year institution would have a “transformative” effect on the Victoria economy and the lives of many of its residents, he said.
“In addition to contributing to social progress and individual empowerment, higher education is a steady, green industry that constantly reinvests in its people and enhances the quality of life for an entire region,” Hudson said. “As a destination university, we will do more to help our community weather the current economic storm.”