UH System selects Dr. Ira Blake as sole finalist for UHCL president

Dr. Ira Blake

Ira Kincade Blake has been named the sole finalist to become the fifth president and first woman to lead the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Blake is currently serving as senior vice president and provost for academic affairs at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

“Ira Blake is an inspiring leader and accomplished educator, so we are fortunate to have an administrator of her caliber to lead the University of Houston-Clear Lake,” said University of Houston System Chancellor Renu Khator. “UHCL is a university on the rise and Dr. Blake has the necessary vision to build on our success.”

A thorough and exhaustive national search was conducted to fill the UHCL presidency, chaired by Richard Walker, UH System vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment services.  Aided by search firm Greenwood/Asher & Associates Inc., the presidential search committee — comprised of students, faculty, deans, alumni and other supporters — delivered a strong and diverse pool of experienced candidates with four finalists emerging.

“I am humbled to be selected as the next president of the University of Houston-Clear Lake. I look forward to working with the UHCL community to continue progress in its public mission,” said Blake, who is scheduled to take office Aug. 1.

Blake has served as senior vice president and provost at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania since 2009 focusing on the university’s academic mission. Previously, she was an associate vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at Dixon University Center as well as an interim dean of the college of education at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.

She holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in developmental psychology from Columbia University and secondary master’s degree in educational psychology from San Francisco State University.

Speaking to students and faculty at an open forum on campus in April, Blake cited UHCL’s standard of excellence in graduate programs and real world, hands-on instruction by faculty as factors for her interest in the position. In addition, she expressed a belief in shared governance where administrators and professors work together to better connect with students. Engaging with more alumni to create networks for students to get new opportunities would be the biggest challenge, she said, while acknowledging that building the university’s brand would also be very important.

President William A. Staples, who has served as UHCL president for the last 22 years, announced in 2016 that he would step down. Staples will stay on in his current role until Blake takes office. Texas law requires that 21 days must pass before the UH System Board of Regents can formalize the appointment.

Since welcoming students in 1974, University of Houston-Clear Lake has evolved into a four-year university offering more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and three doctoral programs. To help meet the growing needs of area communities and the future workforce, the new STEM and Classroom Building and Recreation and Wellness Center at UHCL are expected to open fall 2018. Construction on a new 300-bed student housing project will begin later this year. The Health Sciences and Classroom Building at UHCL Pearland Campus is expected to open spring 2019.

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