The University of Houston–Victoria is a step closer to having a residence hall where the university’s first freshmen and sophomores will eat, sleep, study and socialize in the fall.
The University of Houston System Board of Regents gave UHV the go–ahead to proceed with purchasing and renovating the Inn Place Hotel into UHV’s new “Jaguar Hall” at a special called board meeting on Wednesday. The action is pending approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which next meets on Dec. 15.
“This is another important benchmark on our road to becoming a destination university,” UHV President Tim Hudson said. “We’ve already received more than 100 applications since we started taking them on Nov. 16. These students and new citizens will now have a fine place to live.”
After Coordinating Board approval, UHV administrators hope that the purchase of the former Holiday Inn, located at 2705 Houston Highway, will take place Dec. 18. It is expected to cost $9 million to purchase the building and make the needed repairs, furniture purchases and renovations to prepare it for students.
Jaguar Hall will feature double–occupancy rooms each with their own bathroom and Internet and cable access. UHV administrators are looking at the possibility of providing a television, microwave and small refrigerator in each room. The residential hall also will house a welcome and information center, academic tutoring and advising, a computer lab with technical support, group and individual study areas, and social and networking opportunities. A fitness facility, 400–seat ballroom, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and full dining services also may be available.
“This will be a topnotch facility that will give our new students a safe and secure environment where they can live and build a supportive campus community,” said Wayne Beran, UHV vice president for administration and finance.
Although UHV administrators considered housing students in apartments, renovation of the hotel was a better choice because studies have shown that students living in campus housing feel more involved with their university and graduate at a higher rate, Beran said. Jaguar Hall also is located less than a half–mile from the UHV campus and is only a 10–minute walk, making it convenient for underclassmen who may not have cars.
In addition, apartment occupancy rates are 90 percent in Victoria, making it difficult to find housing, Beran said. Apartment availability is expected to be further limited when construction workers start moving to Victoria in July to build a second unit at Coleto Creek Power Plant.
Jaguar Hall renovations and repairs are expected to start in February on Building A, the east building on the site, in order to be completed by August when the university’s FIRST 200 underclassmen start classes. Building A can house a maximum of 250 students living in 125 double–occupancy rooms. The extensive renovation process will put more than $5 million into the local economy, Beran said.
The second stage of renovation and repairs will be from March to December in Building B, the west building on the site. It will be ready in the spring semester of 2011 and can house 166 students in double–occupancy rooms.
“This renovation will help the local economy and will transform this struggling property into a bustling residence hall with young people who will spend money in Victoria and become our future leaders,” said Randy Vivian, president of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.
Renderings of what Jaguar Hall will look like, including individual dorm rooms, will be posted on the UHV Web site this spring so that potential students can get a better idea of what will be available to them in the fall.
Students also will have a choice of meal plans to purchase while living at Jaguar Hall, Beran said. The cost is being worked out because both dining and residential housing operations will be outsourced to companies with experience working on college campuses. The number of employees these companies will need has not been determined, but UHV also will be hiring additional staff, Hudson said.
The new students will have the benefit of living in the same location as part of UHV’s Student Success and Enrollment Management offices, which will transition to Jaguar Hall from the main campus. SSEM employees provide services such as financial aid and academic and career services to help students succeed in college.
“We want these students to be successful, and this will free up some space on our campus to make way for the new faculty members we’re hiring to teach these students,” Hudson said.
Incoming underclassmen will pay $4,000 to live in Jaguar Hall for the academic year or about $8,200 for residential housing plus 24 credit hours of tuition. Meals, books and incidentals will be an additional cost. This cost structure is one of the lowest at Texas public universities, according to UHV research.
“These students have the chance to make history as our first freshmen and sophomores at UHV,” Hudson said. “I can’t wait for them to come to campus, see all we have to offer and be part of this wonderful community.”
Interested students can apply online at www.uhv.edu. Applicants with questions can contact Denee Thomas, director of Letting Education Achieve Dreams (LEAD) and Student Recruitment at 361–570–4149, toll free at 877–970–4848, ext. 149, or by e–mail at email@example.com.
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The University of Houston–Victoria has achieved numerous milestones during the past several years. These include:
Adding underclassmen – On June 19, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 1056, paving the way for UHV to add its FIRST 200 freshmen and sophomores in the fall of 2010. UHV announced shortly after that it would be offering the first three–year bachelor’s degree at a Texas public university beginning in the fall. Gov. Perry visited UHV on Aug. 6 for a ceremonial signing of HB 1056. UHV received its first freshman application for admission on Nov. 17.
Starting the School of Nursing – After surveying area healthcare agencies and nurses and determining there was a need for an advanced nursing program, UHV started one in the fall of 2006 and began offering a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. In December of 2007, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a proposal to create an official School of Nursing, which allowed the university to begin offering other nursing programs. The school now offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Victoria, Sugar Land and Katy. In October, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education fully accredited the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs for the next five years.
Creating a haven for the humanities – The American Book Review literary publication moved its editorial operations to UHV in 2006 and its layout and production in 2007. The Society for Critical Exchange, a scholarly society devoted to theory, found a home at UHV in 2008, along with the independent, alternative press Fiction Collective Two. Cuneiform Press, a fine arts press, joined UHV’s growing number of literary organizations and publications in the fall of 2009. The first master’s degree in publishing offered in the South also was added in the fall.
Increasing enrollment – Student enrollment increased significantly during the last five years. In fact, UHV’s growth rate of 15 percent from fall of 2008 to fall of 2009 was the highest of any school in Texas, according to preliminary enrollment figures provided by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The university grew from 2,491 students in the fall of 2005 to 3,655 students in the fall of 2009. That’s an increase of 47 percent.
Becoming a nationally ranked business school – The Princeton Review, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fortune Small Business Magazine and GetEducated.com all have rated the School of Business Administration as outstanding. The school recently was named the No. 1 Greatest Opportunity for Minority Students in The Princeton Review’s 2010 edition of “The Best 301 Business Schools.” In 2009, The Princeton Review rated the school No. 10 on its Most Family Friendly list, and GetEducated.com rated the school’s Bachelor of Business Administration as the No. 7 Online Bachelor’s Degree in Business Best Buy. The Global MBA and the Strategic MBA were ranked in 2009 by GetEducated.com as the No. 2 and No. 11 Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business–accredited Distance MBA Best Buys, respectively. In addition, Fortune Small Business Magazine rated the school one of the top–five Best Online Entrepreneurial Schools in 2007.
Starting an athletics program – UHV started an athletics program in 2007 and fielded baseball and softball teams its first year. The Jaguars strongly compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Both teams won their respective Association of Independent Institutions championships in 2009 and produced All–American athletes. The athletics program will expand in the fall of 2010 with the addition of men’s and women’s golf and soccer.
Growing donations – Generous donors continued to give significantly to UHV each year. Faculty, staff, community members, organizations and alumni gave $769,252 to UHV in fiscal year 2009. This was up 38 percent, from the $558,109 given in fiscal year 2005.
Adding the first endowed professorships – The M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation established UHV’s first endowed professorship in 2005. The Johnson Foundation Endowed Professorship in Nursing is held by a faculty member in the School of Nursing. Award–winning journalist Macarena Hernández was announced on June 25 as the first Victoria Advocate Endowed Professor of the Humanities.
Increasing research – Research and sponsored program funding has more than doubled at UHV from $669,211 in fiscal year 2006 to $2.3 million in fiscal year 2009.
Working with China – The university established agreements with several Chinese universities in 2008 to allow their students to take business classes at UHV. Chinese graduate students and professors took classes last school year at the University of Houston System at Sugar Land and UHS at Cinco Ranch, where UHV offers programs. Six Chinese students are taking graduate computer science classes in Victoria this school year.