The official beginning, of the University of Houston System, stems from a May 29, 1968, meeting of the Coordinating Board in San Antonio at which the staff recommended two branch campuses for the University. The first was to be located to the south of Houston, and the second campus was to be located to the north.1
Today, the University of Houston System is a group of six public institutions of higher learning in the Houston area that share common goals and are governed by a Board of Regents. The System comprises four universities and two multi-institution teaching centers that offer degrees in partnership with the universities. The University of Houston is the largest and most comprehensive institution of the System.
Relationships among System institutions are collegial and collaborative. Credits transfer easily from one to another, and students move freely from one campus' library to another. Each institution within the System has a distinct mission; together, the institutions' missions and programs complement and support one another.
Together with UH, the universities that make up the System are UH-Clear Lake, UH-Downtown, and UH-Victoria. The two established teaching centers are the UH System at Sugar Land and the UH System at Cinco Ranch. In addition, UH offers several program components through facilities at the Texas Medical Center.
UH- Clear Lake
The establishment of the university was authorized by the 62nd Texas Legislature in 1971. In 1973, the Texas Senate authorized construction of a permanent campus at Clear Lake.
Construction began early in 1974 with the first phase of the Bayou Building, the largest of the university’s five principal buildings. September 1974 marked the beginning of regularly scheduled classes on the UHCL campus under the leadership of UHCL’s founding chancellor, Alfred R. Neumann. Opening day enrollment totaled 1,069 students and 60 professors comprised the charter faculty.
Today, nestled on a 524-acre wildlife and nature preserve, UHCL has become a cornerstone of higher education in the state. Since opening its doors in 1974, the university has awarded more than 47,000 degrees.
The Schools of Business, Education, Human Sciences and Humanities, and Science and Computer Engineering offer courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in more than 30 fields of study and master’s degrees in over 40 fields of study. With the addition of a doctoral program in educational leadership in 2007, UHCL continues to expand its offerings to meet the needs of its students and the community.
With an average age of 32, nearly half of UHCL’s students are enrolled in graduate courses. The university serves a diverse population of more than 7,500 students from the state, the nation and abroad.
In the decade of the 60's, it became obvious to the citizens of the Victoria area that greater opportunities were needed in higher education: no institution within a 100-mile radius offered baccalaureate and master's degrees. There were many junior college students and graduates in the region who wanted to continue study beyond the associate degree, and a growing number of people who had bachelor's degrees were anxious to pursue master's degrees. Most of these potential university students had families and jobs in the area and would find leaving home difficult if not impossible. By April of 1969, an organized group began working to bring an upper level institution to Victoria.
After many meetings between Texas legislators and community leaders, approval was granted by the Coordinating Board of the Texas College and University System to establish an off-campus center of the University of Houston in Victoria. In 1973 about 100 students entered the newly opened University of Houston Victoria Center. Ten years later, in April 1983, Senate Bill 235 was passed by the Texas Legislature and the center became the University of Houston-Victoria, with permanent status as a degree-granting university.
The student population has now grown to approximately 1,600 students, and some 4,200 bachelor's and master's degrees have been conferred.
The primary role of the university is to provide upper-level and graduate instruction to students within the Coastal Bend region, including collaborative programs in Fort Bend County. The university shares facilities and some services with The Victoria College and also works with Bee County College, Wharton County Junior College and Houston Community College.
In 1974, the University of Houston acquired the assets of South Texas Junior College and then opened the University of Houston-Downtown College at One Main Street as a four-year institution. By the end of the 1970s, the Texas Legislature had approved UHDC as a freestanding university in the UH System.
The early university focused on meeting needs of Houston's diverse and dynamic work force. The college's first four-year degree was a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and resident students attended for $4 per credit hour. During the first five years, degree programs expanded quickly to include accounting, office management, real estate, business services and engineering technology. Soon the college received full accreditation, and enrollment reached 5,000.
Today, while degrees, buildings and even the institution's name continue to evolve, students remain at the heart of UHD's traditions.
UH- System at Sugar Land
UHSSL is a teaching center located on the southwest side of Houston, TX. Three UH System universities offer junior, senior, and graduate level classes at the Sugar Land location.
UH- System at Cinco Ranch
Since 1980, the University of Houston System has been serving west Houston and northern Fort Bend County as the West Houston Institute. In 2001, the site was expanded to become a system center offering degree programs delivered by all four UH system universities: University of Houston, UH-Clear Lake, UH-Downtown, and UH-Victoria.
The UH System at Cinco Ranch facility, a gift from Cinco Ranch Ventures, is a 36,000-square-foot building with twenty classrooms, computer labs, a virtual library, a student lounge, and videoconferencing rooms. The building, located on South Mason Road at University Park (just south of Westheimer Parkway), recently underwent enhancements for electronic delivery of courses, a mobile computer lab, library access, and a wireless network.
More than thirty degree and certificate programs are offered at the UH System at Cinco Ranch, with more programs to be added in the near future. The teaching center provides significant access to higher education for the entire west Houston/Katy area. The UH System at Cinco Ranch partners with the Houston Community College-Northwest to provide community college graduates the opportunity to complete bachelor's degrees.