HOUSTON – University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) President Loren J. Blanchard recently
presented UHD’s accomplishments over the last year and his vision for the future to UHD
stakeholders, including University of Houston System Chancellor Renu Khator, during his second
Annual State of the University Address. The seventh president of UHD, Blanchard took the helm of
UHD in March of 2021, and through a rigorous strategic planning process, he has set the
University on a new course called “A New Paradigm.”
Since opening its doors at One Main Street in 1974, UHD has grown in size, scope, and service,
now offering 46 bachelor’s and 11 master’s degree programs and 17 fully online programs within
its four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities & Social Sciences,
College of Public Service, and College of Sciences & Technology. From the beginning, UHD
offered educational opportunities and access to students from a variety of backgrounds, including
students who are the first in their families to attend college, students who work full- or part-time,
students with additional family obligations, and students who transfer from community colleges and
other higher education institutions.
Now UHD is recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a
Military-Friendly School. While the student population is largely Hispanic at 53% and African-
American at 20%, more than 64 countries are represented.
A New Path Forward
Upon arriving at UHD, Blanchard initiated a Listening Tour of 21 focus group sessions with
feedback from more than 1,200 attendees. In turn, that feedback informed an Institutional
Compass, ushering in an era of transformation and growth for the nearly 50-year-old institution.
“Our Institutional Compass serves as our directional guide,” stated Blanchard during the State of
the University Address. “It encompasses our hopes and ambitions to strengthen justice, empower
student success and equity, and advance institutional excellence and infrastructure. These are the
values that have informed our Strategic Plan, a plan that sets forth a wide-ranging set of priorities
to move us ahead in the coming years.
“Today we are defining what it means to be a student-centered university as well as an anchor
institution that is serving its community, generating real-world learning, and helping students and
families move up the socioeconomic ladder by earning degrees in reasonable time and with as little
debt as possible,” continued Blanchard.
2022-27 Strategic Plan: A New Paradigm
The Strategic Planning Committee emerged from months of stakeholder surveys, forums, debate
and research, with new mission and vision statements for the University and a solid 2022-2027
Strategic Plan entitled A New Paradigm. The seven strategic goals are
Optimize lifelong Student Success;
Cultivate More Strategic Partnerships;
Create a Dynamic Academic Environment;
Engage Faculty and Staff;
Design Sustainable Operations;
Elevate UHD’s Visibility and Recognition;
Promote Impactful Knowledge Creation.
The president has rallied every division and College within the University to transform each goal
into an action plan with specific deliverables and progress reports. “These are bold and ambitious
goals, but so were the goals of those who gathered on One Main Street nearly 50 years ago and
saw a vision for a different kind of university,” stated Blanchard. “Writing the future of this university
will require every ounce of our talents and abilities – but if I have learned anything over the last
year and half it is this: Gators have Texas-sized talents and abilities.”
Enhancing Student Success is the University’s number one priority and based on his findings
within his first 12 months at UHD, the president has set into motion essential structural changes
such as reimagining the student affairs division into the new Student Success and Student Life
Division. This division now incorporates student activities and student health services along with
career services and the Academic Support Center.
Another key organizational change at UHD is a case management approach to academic advising.
Now every advisor will be charged with supporting a group of students for the full duration of their
programs. Advisement will also be embedded in the student’s particular area of study with career-
enhancing opportunities such as internships and service-learning front and center.
In addition, “we have presented to the State Legislature key areas for investments that increase
student success and reduce equity gaps such as expanding mental health services for our
students, strengthening our academic advising, and investing in programs such as financial
literacy, faculty mentorships, and peer-to-peer services that are hyper focused on supporting the
most underserved of our student population,” said Blanchard. “It is these very resources that our
students tell us, over and over again, that they would like access to sooner to make more informed
decisions about their future.”
The president also touched upon achievements over the last year, including the launch of the
President’s Lecture Series; a highly successful Alumni Business Conference; an enrollment Tele-
Recruiting event resulting in contacting 1,000 students; and a partnership with Amazon providing
qualifying employees access to a UHD degree for free.
Other accolades include the public policy organization Third Way ranking UHD among the nation’s
top 50 institutions in providing a pathway to economic mobility for low- and moderate-income
graduates. According to U.S. News 2022-2023 Best Colleges Rankings, UHD is #78 in the Top
Regional Universities (West), #40 in the Top Public Universities in the West, and #27 as a Top
Performer on Social Mobility for Regional Universities (West). Furthermore, UHD has the most
affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston, and its graduates have the lowest
student loan debt in the state.
For more information about UHD, visit uhd.edu.