University of Houston-Clear Lake President Ira K. Blake says that in order to keep pace with an ever-changing world, the institution will strive to teach present and future students not only how to self-adapt to change, but how to lead those changes.
“Society needs people who know how to be compassionate and honest,” Blake told students, faculty, alumni and honored guests at her State of the University address on Tuesday. “Society needs all kinds of skills that are not just cognitive. They’re emotional. They’re affectional. In other words, you can’t run society on data and computers alone.”
The president evoked futurist Alvin Toffler, “who cautioned that in order to keep up, we needed to not focus on what to learn but also to instruct students in ‘how to learn, unlearn and relearn’ as positive change demands it.”
Blake expressed her vision of the university’s future with a nod to its 45-year past: created at NASA’s request to support the U.S. space program. “UH-Clear Lake opened in 1974 with the purpose of delivering educational opportunities to NASA Johnson Space Center administrators, staff, engineers, scientists – and yes, astronauts,” she said.
“That purpose was inextricably linked to the evolving changes taking place in knowledge, skills, and workforce attributes needed to pursue space exploration to advance humanity and to protect the earth,” she added. “Our purpose from the beginning has been to help to discover, to innovate, to provide solutions to present-day problems – as well as to shape decisions about challenges to making our world a better place, and connecting to other worlds.”
Blake pointed out that NASA Johnson Space Center and UHCL recently signed a memorandum of understanding reiterating their relationship “to work together on behalf of students, scientists, faculty, our country and a world that will depend on future generations being better prepared to explore, learn from, develop and protect our universe.”
She also stressed the importance of “bi-directionally beneficial partnerships” with city mayors, community college chancellors, ISD superintendents, principals and teachers, chambers of commerce, city and regional economic development corporations, businesses and agency leaders, noting the close relationship the university has with Pearland Mayor Tom Reid and other Pearland leaders because of the creation of UHCL Pearland.
“UH-Clear Lake’s present-day faculty, staff, students and alumni, grounded in the legacy of our original purpose, have an ongoing commitment to determining what it means to prepare students for a world that is rapidly changing … a world – no, a universe – with emerging new understandings, shifting roles and relationships, and evolving career opportunities – all amidst never-ending new discoveries and new inventions,” she said.
JUMP IN RANKINGS
She highlighted the university’s jump in the U.S. News & World Report’s recently announced 2020 rankings where the university tied at number 43, jumping 20 places in the rankings since 2018. She also noted UHCL’s record enrollment in fall 2018 and again in fall 2019, and included an invitation to prospective students: “If you have the desire for meaningful opportunities on a diverse, inclusive campus, in order to learn to make better decisions, to solve problems more effectively, to become more competent, caring and confident in your future roles in the world, our faculty and staff say, ‘Access Granted.’”
Among alumni and community dignitaries in attendance were UH System Chancellor Renu Khator, UH System Regents Durga Agrawal and John Fields, Texas State Representatives Ed Thompson and Dennis Paul, Mayor Reid, and Jared Bargas, who attended in behalf of U.S. Rep. Randy Weber.
View a video of the president’s address at www.uhcl.edu/president/