Last August, at the beginning of my tenure, we identified four priorities that will drive our system and our decision-making. If we are successful in implementing these priorities, then I believe that our communities will be well-served.
They are: academic excellence, effective and efficient administration, community relevance, and leadership in education. If they sound familiar, it is because they are - in one form or another - the primary responsibilities of every great university, including UH-Clear Lake.
Academic excellence begins with the students' experience with the university as a center of learning. Therefore, we must concentrate on teaching and achieving excellence in the classroom. A primary goal is to become the provider of choice for employer recruitment of our graduates. The university's job begins with recruitment and enrollment, and it doesn't end until we have successfully retained, graduated, and then helped our students enter the work force.
UHCL is already achieving this priority. The majority of respondents to the recent stakeholder survey conducted by Gelb Consulting Group Inc. rated UHCL's faculty as "world-class," and local and regional employers rated UHCL's Career and Counseling Services very high on the same survey.
Academic excellence also means a commitment to increasing knowledge through research, and linking that research where possible to the needs of our communities. In the case of the UH System, that means supporting focused research in energy, health, space, the environment, and other issues affecting our metropolitan region. UHCL is distinguishing itself with projects such as the Environmental Institute of Houston, which links the university to the community through its outreach component, and to UH through its research component.
We can only achieve academic excellence if we have an effective and efficient administration that operates in a student- and client-friendly way to deliver education and research. Our students should experience a minimum of hassles and red tape in achieving their educational goals. The fact that many of them are working, commuting students means that they should have fewer bureaucratic impediments to overcome, not more.
To be successful in this goal we must create an environment fostering communication, coordination and collaboration among our students, faculty, staff, administration and communities. UHCL leads the way with its successes in shared governance and its commitment to quality management principles.
The linkages with our communities in the neighborhoods surrounding our universities - through research partnerships and through educational and service outreach - are part of what makes our universities so important to our region. We call this community relevance, and we must become even more proactive in blending higher education with community service.
We will foster programs that increase our universities' relevance to multiple constituencies, from the barrio to the boardroom. UHCL has been extremely successful in meeting this priority through the university's Development and Advisory Council and collaboration with Clear Lake Area Economic Development Foundation.
As we move forward with our organizational changes under the leadership of Chancellor/President Arthur K. Smith, and as we continue to focus on our top priorities, we will establish quality benchmarks, compatible with national and international standards of excellence, for a public research university system.
We are at the forefront of these changes nationally and will play a leadership role in developing the model for higher education in the world of the 21st century. UHCL continues to lead the way through intensive and effective outreach efforts to recruit transfer students from neighboring community colleges.
My congratulations to UHCL students, faculty, staff and administration. With the aid of alumni and your many friends in the community, you are already well under way in meeting the board of regents' priorities for the next century. We will be the educational pacesetter in the new millennium - the preeminent urban university system.
There is, however, no finish to this exercise. That is why we must be mindful that only through steady, continued and focused attention to excellence can we maintain the leading edge - at UHCL and its three sister institutions - that we have attained. Let's all keep working together to improve and expand our gains.
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