Blake reiterates UHCL’s unique purpose in State of the University address

October 22nd, 2019

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,” Dr. 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.”

Dr. 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’s Johnson Space Center administrators, staff, engineers, scientists – and yes, astronauts,” she said.

LINKED TO CHANGES

“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.”

Dr. Blake pointed out that the 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.

ONGOING COMMITMENT

“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.

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 Reps. 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/presidential-communications/state-of-the-university-2019-20.

UHCL top public school in Texas in U.S. News regional rankings

October 1st, 2019

In U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 rankings of western regional four-year universities, University of Houston-Clear Lake is the No. 1 public university in Texas, according to the magazine’s Best Colleges report. For the entire 13-state region, UH-Clear Lake placed 18th on the Top Public Schools list.

Widening the field to include both public and private schools, UHCL is in a six-way tie for 43rd in 2020 rankings of Best Regional Universities – West, up from 61st in 2019.
The magazine ranked approximately 130 private and public colleges and universities in a region that includes Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Of the 26 Texas schools on the list, UHCL tied for 9th place among public and private institutions.

Each year, U.S. News sends an extensive questionnaire to all accredited four-year colleges and universities. Data collection for the 2020 edition of the report took place during spring 2019, comparing factors such as SAT and ACT scores, acceptance rates, six-year graduation and first-year student retention rates, student-faculty ratios, faculty counts and salaries, tuition, room and board, other student fees and financial resources.

UHCL debuted on the 2016 Best Regional Universities – West rankings in 81st place. It climbed to 74th in 2017, 63rd in 2018, 61st place in 2019 and 43rd for 2020. Factors in UHCL’s current rankings include:

  • 3.0 peer assessment score.
  • 74% avg. first-year retention rate.
  • 33% of classes under 20.
  • 5% of classes 50 or more.
  • 15-to-1 student/faculty ratio.
  • 1030-1200 SAT/ACT 25th-75th percentile.
  • 41% first-year students in top 25% of high school class.
  • 45% acceptance rate.
  • 6% average alumni giving rate.

“The continued improvement in our regional rankings demonstrates that UHCL is making significant strides in enhancing academic excellence through first-year retention, graduation rates and the strength of its faculty,” said Stephen J. Berberich, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

“I am particularly pleased that UHCL ranks at the top of public regional universities in the state of Texas. This, coupled with our commitment to educating a diverse student population, shows we are meeting the needs of the state.”

UHCL also improved its score for Best Value among western regional public and private institutions, moving up to 25th place from 58th last year.

The university also made the western regional list for Campus Ethnic Diversity, scoring 0.65 on a 1.0 Diversity Index scale, which puts UHCL in a six-way tie for 11th place across the 13 western states.

To find all of the listings in the report, visit www.usnews.com/best-colleges.

University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and three doctoral programs, from its College of Business, College of Education, College of Human Sciences and Humanities, and College of Science and Engineering. For more information about the university, visit www.uhcl.edu

2 UHCL alumni named among magazine’s Most Admired CEOs

September 11th, 2019

Two University of Houston-Clear Lake alumni were among 59 area leaders as Houston Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs of 2019. Both lead divisions of HCA Houston Healthcare.

Honorees were Megan Marietta, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare West, and Jeanna Bamburg, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Southeast. Bamburg received a bachelor’s in marketing in 1999 and an MBA in 2002. Marietta received a MBA with a concentration in health care in 2004.

Marietta is a member of Houston West Chamber of Commerce; Greater East Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce; Greater Lake Houston YMCA and Montgomery County United Way.

Bamburg belongs to the American College of Healthcare Executive’s Southeast Texas chapter; Pasadena Chamber of Commerce; San Jacinto Community College Foundation; Economic Alliance Houston Port Region; Texas Healthcare Trustees Board of Directors and Pasadena Rotary Club.

In profiling the honorees, the magazine asked each awardee the same set of questions. Asked about leadership philosophy, Marietta responded, “People and patients come first. The team is paramount and must be developed to execute successfully. Treat people with respect and listen to others when they share their feedback.”

To the same question, Bamburg replied, “I feel it’s my job to influence and inspire everyone in my organization to do better for our patients. Consistency and leading by example are two mantras I focus on.”

In selecting honorees, the magazine’s judges looked for characteristics such as contribution to company success, civic involvement, career achievement and other factors. Judges selected 17 nonprofit leaders and 42 for-profit leaders for awards.

Meet Hannan Khan, one of Hunter Hall’s new resident advisers

August 14th, 2019

As University of Houston-Clear Lake’s first traditional residence hall prepares to open on Aug. 22, resident advisers are already on campus, preparing and receiving additional training to ensure move-in day is efficient and Hunter Hall’s first residents get off to a positive start to the new academic  year.

Get to know Hannan Khan, a 21-year-old biology major who would like to become a medical doctor.  He is one of the seven Hunter Hall resident advisers ready to help new residents as they transition into life on campus.

Q. What made you decide to become an RA?

Khan: Till now, I have lived away from campus and I wanted to be closer to my professors as well as my fellow students. My first semester I wanted to transfer, but I decided to stay. Now I am active with Student Government Association and I have grown a family here at UH-Clear Lake. Taking care of others is a big responsibility, like what a doctor does. I feel like I’m in training for the role I want—helping people is my main goal.

Q. What are you most looking forward to about living in Hunter Hall?

Khan: I’m excited to meet people living on campus and see the new aspect of life on my own, away from my parents’ home.

Q. What is one thing you’d like residents to know about you?

Khan: I am a first generation American and first generation college student. I am very passionate and competitive, and that’s why I play a lot of sports. I like basketball, football, soccer and ping-pong, but basketball is my go-to. If you want to play ping-pong, I’m the guy! You might not win, but I promise you’ll learn something. There is no such thing as losing, only winning and learning.

Q. What are you doing when you aren’t studying?

Khan: Because I am a science major, there is no “off” because I am learning about the body all the time. When I’m not studying, I am still learning.

Q. What is a goal you have as a resident adviser for the students living on your floor?

Khan: I want everyone to have a good first year experience and a good life on campus. I want to engage with everyone and help people have a positive transition to life here. The best way I can do that is by being right next door to them. I want students to live, learn and engage.

Q. What advice do you have for freshmen or new students?

Khan: College is all about pushing through. Don’t stop, it’s worth it and you can relax later. But right now, you just have to keep pushing. Gaining knowledge is worth the investment.

For more information about Hunter Hall, visit www.uhcl.edu/student-affairs/campus-community/housing/hunter-hall/

UHCL alumni invited to preview new center

July 29th, 2019

Photo from www.uhcl.edu

Check out the weight machines and walk the indoor track during the Alumni Free Weekend Preview event at University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Recreation and Wellness Center, Aug. 2-4. Sponsored by UH-Clear Lake’s Alumni Association and the staff of the Campus Recreation and Wellness, the event will give university alumni and their family and friends a chance to “REConnect” with the university, explore the new facility and showcase fitness opportunities at the center.

Participants will be able to access the Recreation and Wellness Center for free all weekend: Friday, Aug. 2, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 3, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 4, noon – 6 p.m. An alumni rate to join the center will also be available.

“We want our alumni to remember that they can reach their fitness needs just by returning to their alma mater,” said UH-Clear Lake Director of Alumni Engagement Carri Hill. “The Recreation and Wellness Center is an outstanding facility and this preview weekend allows alumni and their friends and families a chance to experience it.”

During the preview, the center will showcase the opportunities that exist with fitness and recreational programming, fitness and wellness education, and partners in the Exercise and Nutritional Health Institute (ENHI), and the Office of Alumni Engagement. On Saturday, noon – 3 p.m., attendees can meet with representatives and experience the following:

  • Group fitness demos;
  • Personal training assessments;
  • Children’s activities;
  • Pick-up sports opportunities;
  • Guided tours;
  • Snacks and refreshments.

In addition, on Saturday night, Aug. 3, 8 p.m., families are invited to be a part of an outdoor movie experience with “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” The animated Disney movie is rated PG and all are invited to bring snacks, blankets and chairs to the area directly outside of the Recreation and Wellness Center. Lemonade, popcorn and other treats are available at the event. In the case of rain, the movie will be moved inside the center.

To find out more, visit http://www.uhcl.edu/rec.

Scholarship fund assists UHCL students still impacted by Harvey

April 10th, 2019

University of Houston System applied for and has received a $500,000 grant, called the Rebuild Texas Fund, to assist students still struggling financially with the aftereffects of the 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.

UH-Clear Lake has been designated to receive $200,000 of these funds, which can be applied to students’ financial aid package starting in the fall 2019 academic year.The UHCL scholarship is named the Qatar Harvey Fund Scholarship, in honor of the funds that Qatar has committed for this purpose.“These funds can be used for tuition, books, room and board, and anything related to completion of a student’s degree program,” said UHCL Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships Dwayne Busby.

In order to be eligible for funds, students must be currently enrolled or returning students who withdrew from a UH System campus in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. They must demonstrate an unmet financial need and material or financial hardship due to the hurricane. Undergraduate students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0, and graduate and doctoral students must have a 3.0. They must be able to demonstrate via data or anecdotally, the impact of the hurricane on their financial circumstances.

Priority will be given to students who have exhausted all other forms of aid and who are nearing graduation based on credit hours remaining toward their degree.For more information, or to apply for the Qatar Harvey Fund Scholarship, visit www.uhcl.edu/scholarships.

UHCL, Freeman Library partner to foster reading and writing skills in small children

January 15th, 2019

Educators are always looking for new, creative ways to help small children become comfortable with reading and writing. For Elaine Hendrix, Heather Pule and Roberta Raymond, all professors in University of Houston-Clear Lake’s College of Education, facilitating a partnership with Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library so that future educators can help parents of small children fall in love with books is a step toward making that happen.

“The Freeman Library is such an excellent resource, and after meeting with (Assistant Branch Librarian Youth Services) Elizabeth Hunt and (Branch Manager) Christina Thompson, we decided to find a way to work together,” Hendrix said.

“Parents have already been bringing their children to the library to introduce them to reading,” she said. “We teach future educators reading methods classes. Students need the hands-on practice in the field, doing community-based, experiential learning. Setting up workshops for parents and our students to work together seemed like a perfect fit.”

There is so much information about how best to help a child learn, it can become overwhelming. “We often get questions from parents and caregivers who want to help their child along as they grow and learn, and they’re not exactly sure how to do that,” Thompson said. “As a library, our goal is to connect our community with the resources and information they need. We also believe that parents and caregivers are a child’s first and best teacher.”

Thompson said the library jumped at the opportunity to share Freeman Library’s resources with UH-Clear Lake’s expert faculty and rising educators. “We have already heard feedback that our families are finding the information they learned about child development to be very empowering,” she said.

“We have done three parent trainings, including a writing workshop for children ages 3 to 5,” Raymond said. “We explained to parents what emergent writing looks like, and gave them information packets. We suggested ways to encourage writing and let them know that those scribbles they’re seeing really mean something.”

Assistant Professor of Reading and Language Arts Heather Pule presented a workshop to parents about oral language development. “We discussed how oral language starts developing at birth and how it continues through everyday talk, through a baby’s environment, and through reading from birth,” Pule said. “It was wonderful to be able to talk with parents about something so important for their child’s development.”

Hendrix added, “We have done a reading workshop for 18 month to 3-year-olds, sharing a book and doing hand games to go along. We demonstrated how to be dramatic when reading aloud, and how much it benefits children to have something read over and over again.”

She said that they’d also discussed how much can be taught from a simple picture book, and how to go deeper than the story to encourage verbal interaction.

“It’s the goal of the Children’s Department to support families, child care providers and communities to help every child enter school ready to learn to read,” Hunt said. “Our partnership with UHCL connects local families to experts in early literacy that they might not otherwise have access to. Any community connection the library can make that supports families as they raise their children is a useful one.”

Raymond said creating the connection between future educators and the librarians at Freeman helps tap into each other’s resources. “We are certifying our students to become early childhood-6th grade teachers, and they have to be prepared to work at all levels since they’ll be certifying at all levels,” she said. “Both sides can benefit greatly from this experience.”

 

For more information about UHCL’s Interdisciplinary Studies B.S. with Core Subjects EC-6, visit www.uhcl.edu/academics/degrees/interdisciplinary-studies-bs-ec-6-early-childhood-concentration. For more information about UHCL’s Reading M.S. with Reading Specialist Certificate, visit www.uhcl.edu/academics/degrees/reading-ms-reading-specialist-certificate

UHCL student knows special ed is her true calling in life

December 11th, 2018

Sarah Robicheaux has known her professional calling for most of her life. As the older sister of a sibling with Down’s Syndrome, the University of Houston-Clear Lake senior knows that teaching children with special needs is where she’s meant to be.

Robicheaux, 27, lives in Alvin and will receive her bachelor’s degree in education with a dual certification in early childhood-6th and early childhood-12th special education Dec18. “I’ve done my internship at Dan Kubacak Elementary in Santa Fe Independent School District, and I have substitute taught in Santa Fe for four years,” she said.

She won Substitute Teacher of the Year in 2017-18 for Roy J. Wollam Elementary School in Santa Fe ISD. Her close ties to the students and teachers in Santa Fe made the shooting that occurred on May 18 at Santa Fe High School even more painful. “It’s a small district, and everyone knows everyone,” she said. “The experience definitely changed everyone, including me. I never asked myself if I was willing to die for my chosen profession, but I had to wonder if I would die for my kids.”

She said she examined herself and her desire to be a teacher. “I still want to be a teacher, no matter what,” she said. “I’ve been living special education with my little brother since I was five. I could see how mistreated he was when he was little. There was no inclusion at that time, and he was stuck in a classroom with kids who were more disabled than he was, and he wasn’t learning.”

Her mother battled to get him into a mainstream classroom, Robicheaux said, and to get him a special education teacher who was willing to teach him at his level. “No matter how big the tragedy, nothing will change my mind,” she said. “My little brother inspired my calling in life.”

Now that she’s graduating, Robicheaux said that she has interviewed in Alvin ISD for a math resource position, and would like to reside and someday raise her own children in Santa Fe. “My ultimate goal is to have a self-contained life skills classroom,” she said. “I know this is what I am meant to be doing. If the unimaginable events on May 18th couldn’t shake it, I don’t think anything can.”

UHCL president investiture formalizes her appointment

November 1st, 2018

University of Houston System Chancellor Renu Khator presents the presidential medallion to University of Houston-Clear Lake President Ira K. Blake during the university’s investiture ceremony – an event that marks the official moment when the torch is symbolically passed to a new leader. UH-Clear Lake faculty, staff and students joined other UH System administrators, regents and city leaders on stage. The medallion was worn by UH-Clear Lake’s first chancellor, Alfred R. Neumann, 44 years ago.

University of Houston-Clear Lake President Ira K. Blake celebrated her formal investiture Sept. 20 as the university’s fifth president. As the first woman and African-American president at the university, she said she is living proof of the American Dream.

“I am the daughter of cotton sharecroppers with elementary school educations, who believed that, despite their own lived hardships, this nation could provide opportunity for better outcomes for their children,” she told students, faculty, staff, UH System regents and other honored guests – including her mother and eponym, Ira Kincade.

She said her parents valued “the promise of education, and encouraged all of us children to go as far as our potential and interests would take us – believing simply that education is the key to a better future.”

For the trust and encouragement from all those who invested in her, she is impelled to do the same for others, she said. She shared advice she often heard from her late husband, Vaughn Richard Downey Blake, Sr., “who reminded me that I had a responsibility to help change the lives of regular, everyday people in order to make the world a better place for everyone. In essence, I also had a responsibility – to – the American Dream.”

A university investiture traditionally takes place within the first year of a new president’s appointment. It formally marks the transference of authority and symbols of the office to the new president.  The investiture capped a week of UHCL events surrounding the ceremony. The cities of Houston and Pearland declared Sept. 20 “Ira K. Blake Day,” commemorated in mayoral proclamations. U.S. Rep. Pete Olson and State Reps. Greg Bonnen and Dennis Paul sent their congratulatory greetings. Olson’s greeting included a congressional resolution. Kemah Mayor Carl Joiner was among the guests.

Pearland Mayor Tom Reid spoke in behalf of invited government representatives, and cited his city’s partnership with the university in opening UHCL Pearland Campus and its past president. But, as Reid said referencing President Blake after the past president’s retirement, “we were so, so fortunate to gain a rock star. She is something very special.”

“I knew she would fly high and fast as your new president,” said Bloomsburg University President Emeritus David L. Soltz. “She has studied and learned so much about the university and community, and the many challenges and opportunities that face UH-Clear Lake and all of public higher education.”

UH System Chancellor Renu Khator congratulated President Blake on the accomplishments of her first year, “made possible because of her leadership, but most definitely because of your support. Yours. Yes. Faculty, students, staff, alumni and community partners. It takes a village.”

UHCL to usher in a new era with investiture of Dr. Ira Blake

September 1st, 2018

University of Houston-Clear Lake will host the investiture of President Ira K. Blake  Thursday, Sept. 20, at 2 p.m., as the culminating event in a week of activities commemorating President Blake’s 2017 appointment to the post.

She is UHCL’s fifth president, its first woman and the first African-American to be appointed to the university’s highest office. The theme for the event is “Transcending Expectations,” a focal point for President Blake since her arrival.

Investiture events at universities are traditional ceremonies that formally mark the transference of the authority and symbols of the office to the new president, usually within his or her first year. President Blake’s formal installation as UHCL’s new president will take place in the university’s Bayou Theater and will include a procession of delegates from other colleges and universities as well as from within UHCL.

The event is open to the public and is an opportunity for the community and the university to usher in a new era in UHCL’s history. Her investiture ceremony will conclude with a meet-and-greet reception following the ceremony at 4 p.m. in Atrium I of the Bayou Building.

UHCL’s Investiture Week begins Monday, Sept. 17 with an historical exhibit, a panel discussion with UHCL charter faculty, and an alumni panel event in which graduates share their stories of their professional paths and callings. Other events throughout the week include UHCL Constitution Day Celebration and a Health and Wellness Fair in UHCL’s newly opened Recreation and Wellness Center on Sept. 18.

On Sept. 19, the arts at UHCL will be showcased from 5:30 to 8 p.m., in the Bayou Theater and followed by a reception in the newly expanded UHCL Art Gallery. Investiture Week will culminate on Sept. 21 with the Bayou Theater’s 2018-19 season opening concert, “Mercury: Vivaldi vs. Paganini.”

President Blake holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Washington University, a master’s degree in educational psychology from San Francisco State University, and a second master’s degree and doctorate in developmental psychology from Columbia University. She has spoken and published extensively on the topics of language, literacy, culture, ethnicity, socialization and child development.