The University of Houston-Victoria announced the first three-year bachelor’s degree offered by a Texas public university Monday. The news came only weeks after Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill allowing the institution to admit underclassmen.
“Adding freshmen and sophomores in the fall of 2010 is the first of many changes we are making to transform UHV into a truly unique destination university,” President Tim Hudson said. “Our three-year bachelor’s degree program will save students time and money, and allow them to reach their dreams sooner. It’s time for higher education to focus the curriculum and the calendar on the needs of the student.”
The UHV program, called Degree in Three, or Dn3 for short, will include innovative features like the incorporation of international study into degree plans, hands-on work experiences for underclassmen, group projects to examine the cultures and work of various professions, and an option for locked-in tuition for new freshmen until they graduate.
“As details become finalized, we will be unveiling more information about these other aspects of the program that will contribute to our goal of crafting a learning experience unlike that at other public universities,” Hudson said. “It’s the goal of our faculty and staff to create opportunities that will attract students from across Texas and the nation to this region to be part of a dynamic, relevant and affordable university like no other.”
Having the three-year program as its standard degree path, in addition to strong four-year options, will set UHV apart from other institutions and give students and parents an additional choice, he said.
The program will initially include degrees in communication, criminal justice, English, history, psychology and education, said Jeffrey Di Leo, coordinator of the three-year program and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences.
“These are some of our most popular degree programs that lend themselves best to the Dn3 learning environment,” Di Leo said. “That environment will be enhanced by close relationships with and strong support from faculty, staff and peer mentors.”
The new program will facilitate a faster degree through a combination of eight-week and 15-week sessions. Despite the accelerated program, students will not have to take summer courses after their first year and still will enjoy ample vacation time, two months during their freshman year, for example.
“While students at other universities can try to finish faster by taking a large and haphazard class load, our streamlined programs will present an established and coordinated fast track that students will find challenging but not overwhelming,” said Suzanne LaBrecque, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
A special Dn3 option will allow students to lock in their tuition at about 10 percent above the standard credit-hour rate at the time of entry if they continue to meet certain requirements with their grades and progress toward their degrees. An incoming freshman could earn a bachelor’s degree for about $24,000 in tuition, based on expected 2010 rates. UHV already is one of the most affordable public universities in Texas, according to Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board statistics.
“Students will be able to get a quality education for the price of a decent automobile,” Hudson said. “Education pays dividends for a lifetime. It improves the lives of students, their families and their communities long after a car would have rusted away.”
The tuition also will include selected study abroad options through a “Passport Program” that will help students gain a true international perspective, he said.
Dn3 admission will be limited to the first 150 freshmen who commit to the university for the fall 2010 semester.
“We’re looking for students who want to be pioneers in the world of education and who are in a hurry to make a difference in their lives and society,” Hudson said. “I am confident this new program will draw the attention of other universities as we strive to serve our state’s growing population and educational needs during such challenging economic times.”
Students welcomed the news of UHV’s new initiative.
“This is a great day for students everywhere,” Student Senate President Erik Garino said. “The new program is a wonderful addition to the excellent opportunities already here at UHV. We’re looking forward to welcoming the new Jaguars in 2010.”
UHV was founded in 1973 as one of several upper-level institutions created to allow community college students and residents better access to bachelor’s and master’s degrees. About 30 such schools were created across the country at the time, but that number has dwindled to three, with only one remaining in Texas.
The university has grown from a center borrowing space from The Victoria College to a rapidly growing institution of almost 3,300 students at face-to-face locations in Sugar Land, Katy and Victoria, and online. On June 19, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill granting UHV permission to add freshmen and sophomores.
“We have the faculty and staff in place to make UHV an innovative leader in the world of higher learning and to help Texas achieve its higher education goals,” Hudson said. “I look forward to meeting the visionary students who will help change the way people think about college education.”
The admission of underclassmen, and the offering of freshman- and sophomore-level classes, is pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities, the same organization that accredits most major universities in Texas.
Students can learn more about UHV and the Dn3 program by contacting Tracey Fox, senior recruitment coordinator in the School of Arts & Sciences, at 361-570-4233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.