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Next B-Cycle expansion announced

From the inbox:

Houston’s bike share system, Houston B-cycle, will more than triple in size over the next two years, adding 71 stations with 568 bikes. The expansion will be paid for with federal grant dollars.

“The expansion of the B-cycle system will bring bike sharing into new neighborhoods and to new users,” said Mayor Turner. “As I’ve said, we need a paradigm shift in transportation away from single-occupancy motor vehicles. Making cycling more accessible by building a strong bike sharing system is a critical component of that change.”

The City’s Planning and Development Department sponsored an application for a grant from the Federal Highway Administration. The grant will reimburse the City for $3.5 million of the cost of expanding the system. Houston Bike Share, a local nonprofit that administers Houston B-cycle, will provide the remaining $880,000.

Currently, the system has 31 stations with 225 bikes. The expansion will bring the total to 102 stations and 793 bikes. The grant will also pay for two new transportation vehicles.

Houston B-cycle is a membership-driven bike share system. Memberships are available by day, week or year. All members have unlimited access to the bikes for up to 60 minutes per trip. There is a charge of $2 for every additional half hour.

The expansion brings bike sharing into the Texas Medical Center with 14 stations and 107 bikes. The new stations will also serve Houston’s students, with 21 new stations and 248 bikes at the University of Houston Main Campus, Texas Southern University, UH-Downtown and Rice University.

Since January 1, cyclists have made 73,577 trips and traveled 508,044 miles. Houston Bike Share CEO Carter Stern estimates Houstonians are on track to exceed 100,000 trips by the end of 2016.

“We could not be more grateful for the Mayor and City Council’s unflagging support of the Houston B-Cycle program and our efforts to expand the program,” Stern said. “The expansion approved today will allow us to build on the immense success that B-Cycle has had in just 4 short years and bring this affordable, healthy, sustainable mobility option to more Houstonians than ever before.”

Sounds good to me. There isn’t an updated system map yet, but this does a lot to expand B-Cycle outside the borders of downtown/Midtown, in areas that are dense and proximate to light rail lines. You know how I feel about using the bike network to extend transit reach, and B-Cycle is a great fit for the rail stations because trains are often too crowded to bring a bike onto them. I can’t wait to see what the new map looks like. The Press has more.

Mayoral debate #1

Who watched?

In the first televised debate in the Houston mayor’s race, three of the candidates jockeying to replace Mayor Annise Parker took aim at former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and the agency’s allegedly low crime clearance rates.

The pointed effort marked a swift and telling segue from the candidates’ summer circuit of mostly small forums, featuring intermittent fireworks, to their biggest stage yet.

At the end of the debate, former Congressman Chris Bell, businessman Marty McVey and former mayor of Kemah Bill King all honed in on Garcia, a Democrat who many view as a frontrunner in the Nov. 3 balloting.


Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said the first televised debate typically previews some of the battle lines and messaging beginning to emerge as the campaigns heat up.

Still, with the race crowded and the time limited to one hour Thursday, it was difficult for any one candidate to stand out. There was little new policy territory covered, but the candidates did find themselves on the hot seat, both with one another and the moderators, more than in previous settings.

“This (debate) rises above the clouds in terms of its prominence and its significance in that its audience is all of Houston, not just a specific interest group, and its medium is television instead of the best-case scenario a somewhat unreliable Web stream from a forum,” Jones said.

With State Rep. Sylvester Turner seemingly “close to invulnerable getting into the runoff,” Jones said, “pretty much everyone has an interest in taking a hit on Garcia.”

PDiddie was impressed by what he saw, Campos not so much. I confess I didn’t watch. I’m not a big fan of general interest candidate forums, which are especially hard to do with multiple candidates. You need to limit response times to give everyone a chance to speak, but that generally invites sound bite answers. I think forums that are focused on narrower and more specific topics can be more illuminating, partly because they often cover ground that gets very little attention overall, and partly because it gives you a chance to see who has actually thought about some of this stuff, and who is faking it.

And along those lines, there are a couple of upcoming specific-interest Mayoral forums coming up. On Thursday, September 10, Shape Up Houston and the Kinder Institute are hosting a forum on urban health and wellness. The forum goes from 8 to 9 AM with preliminaries beginning at 7 – see here for details and a list of sample questions. The event will be livestreamed here if you want to check it out. That evening at 7 PM, the Houston area Sierra Club, Citizens’ Transportation Coalition, and Citizens’ Climate Lobby with support of OilPatch Democrats will be hosting a forum on growth and climate change. That will be at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center, see here for more information and to RSVP. Finally, there’s an event this morning at Rice hosted by Emerging Latino Leaders Fellowship, Mi Familia Vota, the Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice (HACER), the Student Government Association at University of Houston-Downtown, and Young Invincibles on the subject of young adult and Latino community issues. It’s too late to attend if you wanted to – the venue is full – but this is one I wish I would have been able to see. I’m hoping it will be recorded, and if so I’ll post a link to the video. All of this is my longwinded way of saying that if you have an opportunity to go to an event like one of these, I recommend you take it. I think you’d learn more than you would watching a general purpose event. Just my opinion, of course, and your mileage may vary.

UH Downtown drops open admissions

UH-Downtown took up the issue of adopting admissions standards last week.

“It’s time and it’s the right thing to do,” said President William Flores, who began advocating for admissions standards shortly after taking over as president in 2009. “We’re building the quality of our academic programs and the reputation of the university and student success is part of that.”

UH-Downtown became the only Texas university with open admissions this past fall, when the University of Texas at Brownsville introduced admissions standards. Texas Southern University ended its open admissions policy in 2008.

Under the UH-Downtown standards, which would take effect in fall 2013, students graduating in the top 25 percent of their class would automatically be admitted; those in the 26 to 50 percent group would need a combined SAT score of 850, a 2.5 GPA or an ACT admissions test score of 18.

A committee would review applications from students in the bottom half of their class and consider personal interviews, references, unusual circumstances, effort and potential as part of the criteria.


The new standards are designed to weed out students who are not ready for the rigor of a four-year college, and who often end up dropping out of school without a diploma and with a significant amount of debt.

Those students would be offered “joint admissions” to Lone Star College, Houston Community College or San Jacinto College, where they could transfer to UH-Downtown after successfully completing remedial courses and core credit classes.

On Wednesday, they made it official for the fall of 2013. I hadn’t realized that there were no other four-year institutions doing open admissions any more. I think this is a sensible move. As the story notes, UH-D’s current six-year graduation rate is 15%. Diverting some students into community college should benefit them by reducing their financial burden and benefit UH-D by boosting its graduation rate, which may wind up being tied to the amount of money the Lege appropriates to it.

On a side note, I haven’t heard anything further about the proposed name change for UH-D in over a year. I wonder if that subject will come up again after this change is made.

New bike trail into downtown nearing completion

From Swamplot:

Heritage Corridor West bike trail

It looks like large portions of the 2.8-mile-long Heritage West Bikeway connecting Stude Park to UH-Downtown are close to completion, but the path along portions of the former UP railway won’t open until summer, according to the city. One important still-missing link: a pedestrian bridge over Little White Oak Bayou. Past the University, the 10-ft. wide trail will connect to the Heritage East Bikeway, which continues along White Oak Bayou to Lockwood.

The new western portion will hook up with the MKT hike-and-bike trail both at Stude Park and at Spring St., providing an alternate along-the-bayou path for bicyclists headed downtown from the Heights.

Go visit that Swamplot post for some pictures from the construction. Here’s a map of the MKT Trail for comparison. Both of them will get you from the Heights to downtown, specifically to UH Downtown, with the main difference being that Heritage West is entirely along the bayou and thus off the streets, while MKT goes alongside Spring Street and requires crossing intersections such as at Sawyer and Houston Avenue. MKT is the way to go if you have a destination before UH-D, Heritage is if you want the scenic route. There’s still some construction east of where the two meet up – see the note on the Houston Bikeways Facebook page – so watch out and stay off the trail where there’s still active construction. I know a lot of people who are excited about this, and I’m looking forward to taking Olivia on a ride out that way when it’s done. And when they finally connect MKT to West White Oak, you’ll be able to ride a hell of a long way without having to share space with an automobile. Michael Skelly has more.

UPDATE: Bill Shirley sent me the following picture of the bike trail construction this afternoon:

Making the trail

Way cool.

Whatever happened to renaming UH-Downtown?

It’s been more than two years since regents at UH-Downtown first proposed changing the school’s name to something that didn’t include “UH” in it. An attempt to get a bill through the Lege in 2009 failed, in part to there not being an accepted alternative. Earlier this year, a consulting firm proposed a couple of possible new names, “City University” and “Houston City University”, but nobody liked them. With another legislative session about to begin, it’s looking like nothing will change again.

State Sen. Mario Gallegos, who graduated from UH-Downtown and represents the campus, said he will sponsor a bill if his colleagues in the Legislature think it’s a good idea.

“If they say no, then no,” said Gallegos, a Houston Democrat who said he has heard mixed opinions from other alumni. “There’s no use in filing a bill if my colleagues aren’t going to be for it.”

Garnet Coleman and Jessica Farrar, Democrats who represent the campus in the House, say they have yet to be sold on the idea.

“I haven’t been convinced that taking the name University of Houston off is advantageous to the University of Houston-Downtown,” Coleman said. “The rationale that has been given for a name change just doesn’t compute, in my book.”

Farrar said she understands the reasons the university is seeking the change.

“But my concern was to make sure it’s what the university community wanted to do,” she said. “I don’t think it would be successful without that support.”

UH-Downtown President William Flores and Carroll Ray, chairwoman of the UH board of regents, insisted the issue isn’t dead.

“We’re trying to develop a next step,” said Flores, who inherited the idea when he was hired last year.

It may not be dead, but it sure sounds moribund. I think it’s pretty clear that in the absence of a true consensus for one specific alternative, UH-Downtown will continue to be UH-Downtown. Which is fine by me – I kind of liked “Houston Metropolitan University”, but there’s nothing really wrong with “UH-Downtown”. There’s an old saying in baseball that sometimes the best trade is the one you don’t make. Perhaps that applies here as well.

Story on Texas’ “dropout factories”

Last month I blogged about this Washington Monthly story about colleges with extremely low graduation rates. Here’s a Star-Telegram article about that, which contains some reaction from a couple of the Texas schools named in the original piece.

One factor holding down graduation rates is the changing makeup of college students. Once, most lived at four-year schools. But a growing trend is first-generation college students from working-class families who help support relatives while taking classes.

That’s a factor at Sul Ross, President Ricardo Maestas said.

Many Sul Ross students take longer than six years to graduate because they have to balance school with work, he said. The Alpine-based university of 2,124 students offers rural communities in 19 counties near Big Bend programs in education, agriculture and animal science. Sul Ross is the only viable higher education option for many students between El Paso and San Antonio, Maestas said.

“You can’t judge a book by its cover or by one data point,” he said. “Yes, we have some problems we have to solve.”


Maestas said officials at Sul Ross are trying to find out why more students don’t finish. They are also taking a new look at recruiting efforts; students from large cities may not be the right fit for a rural school, he said. Every year, the university loses about half of the entering class, in part because some 84 percent are working students and 53 percent are low income.

It’s at least possible that if the study conducted by the Washington Monthly had used an eight year deadline for graduation, Sul Ross might have fared better, though I doubt it would make that much of a difference. If they really are trying to figure out where their problems are and to take concrete steps to address them, that’s the main thing. Remember, though, that the schools Sul Ross was compared to for this story were schools with a similar profile; in other words, other schools with a high percentage of low income, working students. There’s plenty they can learn from the schools that have better graduation rates.

Michael Dressman, interim provost at UT-Downtown, said that while the ranking shows that improvement is needed, it doesn’t present a complete story. The school is open-admission and serves largely students who also work.

“It’s a kick in our morale,” Dressman said. “We know that we are doing a good job. We are trying to do a better job every year.”

He said his school is being judged on the staying power of a sliver of students — there are 1,000 first-time freshmen in a total enrollment of 12,900.

“I say, judge us by our graduates,” he said. “We rank 33rd in the country in the number of Hispanics graduating with bachelor’s degrees. Many of them took 10 or 12 years to get it, but they graduated.” Dressman said one successful alum is state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston.

That’s a pretty non-responsive answer. Again, UH-Downtown, like Sul Ross, was judged in comparison to peer institutions, not to the UTs and A&Ms of the world. That includes a lot of open admission, majority minority, schools that serve working students. If those schools can graduate 50% or more of their students, so can UH-D. What’s their plan to do better? Their current and future students have a right to know that.

Adolfo Santos

Last week, HISD Trustee Diana Davila resigned her position. It’s not clear yet whether the Board will appoint a replacement or there will be a special election, but Marc Campos is floating the name of a possible successor.

UH-Downtown Political Science Professor Adolfo Santos is expressing an interest in replacing Davila. Santos’ resume is being passed around by respected H-Town Latino business and professional leaders. In recent years, Santos has regularly submitted Op-Eds for publication to the Chron.

Here’s his UH-D page, and here’s his curriculum vita. I couldn’t find any of the op-eds that Campos mentions in the Chron’s archives, though I did find a letter to the editor in response to one of them. I also found a couple of mentions of him in various stories. Here’s one about school uniforms, from 2007:

Reactions like this don’t surprise Adolfo Santos, political science professor at the University of Houston-Downtown who studied uniform polices at HISD middle schools in the late 1990s. Poorer communities can benefit from standard dress requirements, he said, because the clothes are often cheaper than trendy ones. And minority communities, especially Hispanics, he noted, are often more open to the idea of a strict dress code. All of the majority-Hispanic high schools in the district have standardized dress.

“When you look at predominantly Hispanic schools, there is often a large immigrant population, and these are students coming from Mexico and other countries where kids are accustomed to wearing uniforms in school,” Santos said.

He was also quoted in this story about the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and this profile of UH-D. Finally, possibly the most interesting thing I found in Googling around was this think piece about the future of education, from 2005. I don’t know if Dr. Santos will actually be a candidate to replace Davila, and if so if he’ll have to run a campaign or not, but at least now we know a little something about him.

UPDATE: Via email from Marc Campos, here’s a fuller version of Dr. Santos’ CV.

UH-Downtown renaming update

As we know, UH-Downtown has been looking to change its name since 2008. After an unsuccessful first attempt to get consensus, it’s trying again and seems to have settled on City University or Houston City University as its preferred replacement moniker. The consensus part, they’re still working on that.

[N]ot everyone is convinced the 36-year-old school needs a new name.

“I think it’s detrimental,” said Victoria Chadwick, who is completing her first semester at UH-Downtown. “It’s an absolute waste of money.”

Other students worry future employers won’t recognize the new name, and that their achievements as students under the current name will be forgotten once a new name is adopted.


Student concerns ranged from the specific — what name will be on my diploma? — to more general issues about the word “city,” which some students felt suggested a community college. UH-Downtown offers bachelors and master’s degrees.

Students enrolled before the name is changed could choose the name printed on their diplomas, said Sue Davis, executive director for public affairs at the school. Diplomas for those enrolling after change, tentatively planned for fall 2011, would bear the new name.

Alumni could request a duplicate diploma with the new name.

Maybe someone should ask alumni of the university formerly known as Southwest Texas State what their experience was when it changed its name in 2003. My suspicion is that the confusion effect is short-lived, but there’s no reason to guess when you can ask about it. The question of whether or not the proposed alternatives are worth changing the current name to, that’s another matter.

Renaming UH-Downtown, take 2

As we know, UH-Downtown has been trying to rename itself for over a year and a half now. Its first attempt at picking a new moniker, which would have been Houston Metropolitan University, didn’t go well as nobody really liked the choices or thought there had been enough stakeholder involvement. They’re now trying again, with a new and limited set of options.

Two choices were unveiled today in the first of a series of campus meetings: City University and Houston City University.

Students, faculty, staff and alumni will have a chance to discuss the names over the next few months.


Campus officials started the process again after [University President William] Flores took office last summer, hiring a consulting firm and culminating in [Wednesday’s] meetings.

Chuck Reed, senior vice president at Stamats, the consulting firm, flashed the two prospective names on a screen, noting that “City University” would be his top recommendation.

“City is powerful and short,” he said.

It’s also kind of generic. I mean, which city? The City? Some other city? If these are my choices, I’ll take Houston City University, which at least makes it sound like it belongs here. (And I’ll give a shoutout to Mean Green Cougar Red, whose preference was Houston City University at the time the previous renaming process ground to a halt.) The decision will be made in the coming months, so we’ll see who agrees with me and MGCR and who agrees with the consultant dude. What do you think?

UH-Downtown may drop open admissions

This could have some broad implications.

After less than four months on the job, the new president of the University of Houston-Downtown has launched an agenda to reshape the school’s future.

First up: creating admission standards for a school that historically has accepted anyone with a high school diploma or GED.

William Flores, who arrived on campus last summer, said he is committed to non-traditional students and those who need a helping hand.

“But we also want our students to be more successful,” he said, and attending a four-year school may not be good for students who require more than a few remedial courses. Instead, he said, those students would do better at a community college, where they can prepare for college-level work at a fraction of the cost.

You may recall that the University of Houston is seeking to raise its admission standards. If UH-D follows suit, even with the modest standards they are proposing – top 50% of graduating class, 2.0 or higher GPA, 860 SAT or 18 ACT score – that will put a lot of pressure on the community colleges to pick up the slack. The justification for this is pretty straightforward:

Just 13.4 percent of students who entered UH-Downtown as freshmen in 2002 had earned a degree six years later. The state average is 56 percent.

Doesn’t really seem like it’s in anyone’s best interests for that high a percentage of students to not graduate. Of course, at the end of the day, what’s really needed is for high school graduates who want to attend college to be better prepared for it. That can’t be done by decree, and with the neverending school finance battle about to be joined again, I don’t see much hope for that happening soon. But it’s what needs to be done, and the choice is ours as to when we get around to doing it. I say the sooner the better, but good luck with the Governor and the Legislature.

UH to raise admissions standards

That was the idea, or at least one of them, behind the push for more Tier 1 schools – to take some pressure off of UT and A&M by providing more places for kids in the top ten percent of their graduating classes to go.

The new standards would limit automatic admission to students graduating in the top 10 percent of their high school class — that’s required by Texas law, but UH now automatically admits those in the top 20 percent — and set higher minimum scores on the SAT and ACT admissions tests for everyone else. They must be approved by regents next week and would take effect in the fall of 2011.

Students who don’t meet the standards will be referred to UH-Downtown, an option [Provost John] Antel said would fulfill the university’s traditional mission of educating the city’s working class. UH-Downtown is open admission, meaning anyone with a high school diploma or GED can enroll.


Students were concerned that higher standards will hurt diversity, said Kenneth Fomunung, president of the student government association.

Antel said ethnicity and race will be considered during individual admission reviews of students who don’t otherwise qualify, which helped sway Fomunung.

“Without that, I would have been very, very reserved,” he said.

That is a big concern, as it has been at UT and A&M. I think as long as UH can continue to maintain its diversity, everyone will be happy with the transition it’s about to embark on. Stace has more.

Post-mortem on UH-Downtown name change

It’s safe to say that UH-Downtown will remain UH-Downtown for at least two more years, since there’s no time to get a name change bill through the Lege at this point. The Chron takes a look at how the attempt to change it this year went down the tubes.

One possibility, Houston Metropolitan University, was rejected by faculty as too cheesy. Another, University of South Texas, prompted a letter warning of possible trademark infringement from South Texas College of Law President James Alfini.

Now, it’s back to the drawing board. The school is soliciting proposals from companies to suggest new names.

Maybe that will have a better outcome. It seems clear to me that a lack of trust about the process, as well as a belief that UH-D doesn’t get the respect it deserves from the rest of the UH system were the main factors. If this is going to be pursued further, a process that involves students, faculty, and alumni will be essential to getting any kind of buy-in. I don’t know if they need to do this or not, but they do need to get everyone on the same page.

Video report from UH-Downtown renaming meeting

Con Frijoles has a video clip of his testimony last Friday before the UH-Downtown Board of Regents concerning the name change saga. I just want to add that while I think Houston Metropolitan University is a perfectly decent name despite the understandable concerns some folks have, I also think there’s nothing wrong with “UH-Downtown”. Given all the pushback the Board has gotten, it seems to me the best option at this point is to regroup, get consensus and buy-in from the community, and try again (if necessary) in 2011. I think the odds of a successful outcome for this session are rapidly dwindling.

The ongoing UH-Downtown renaming saga

Still going nowhere fast.

University of Houston System regents Friday decided to wait for more suggestions before choosing a new moniker for UH-Downtown, concerned that “South Texas” made no reference to the city and overlaps with South Texas College of Law. They said the process, which came up with the suggested name in about a month, had been rushed.

“UH-Downtown has great programs, deans, professors and graduates,” said Welcome W. Wilson Sr., chairman of the board. “It doesn’t have an identity. It is an invisible university. However, maybe the time frame is a bit short. It could be that four weeks (was) not enough.”

Regents voted in December to change the name of UH-Downtown to increase recognition and distinguish it from the University of Houston’s largest campus. But coming up with a new name is a ticklish matter, guaranteed to offend some, including those who believe no change is needed.

“We can vet some more names, but we are never going to get a consensus,” UH-Downtown President Max Castillo said after the meeting. “Any change is going to get dialogue, contention and debate. I think we’ve done our due diligence in bringing this (name) forth.”

Well, that’s one way of putting it. The good news for those who don’t like any of the names they’ve contemplated, or who think they shouldn’t have bothered in the first place – there’s a Facebook group for you if that’s the case – is that it seems unlikely they’ll be able to get their act together in time to get a bill written, sponsored, and passed by the Lege; certainly, not having a strong consensus won’t help those efforts, either. So if you like things as they are, or at least prefer them to what they could be, you’re probably in good shape till 2011.

A special university committee solicited faculty, student and public input before recommending University of South Texas. It sent out surveys, conducted focus groups and considered scores of names, including some that sounded like a bank (Fidelity State University), a charter school (Challenger State University), a Soviet institution (People’s State University) and a very distant outpost (Houston Lunar University).

Some regents said the name simply did not appeal to them . Others thought the similarity to South Texas College of Law — or even Texas Southern University — could present problems.

I’m telling you – Houston Metropolitan University is where it’s at. The Chron is with me. Your move, Regents.

UPDATE: Sandra was at the meeting on Friday, and provides a report. She does not like “Houston Metropolitan University”. Mean Green Cougar Red, who thinks HMU isn’t so bad, and Stace, who prefers “University of South Texas”, have more.

UH-Downtown to move ahead with name change

They still don’t know what they want to be called, however.

School leaders are going ahead with plans to rename the University of Houston-Downtown, despite opposition from students, alumni and some faculty members.

“If it has its own distinctive name, it can move forward (and) be known,” said Welcome Wilson Sr., chairman of the board that governs UH-Downtown and other schools in the UH system.

He and university president Max Castillo said Tuesday they believe the benefits of a new name would outweigh the disapproval of those who don’t want it to change.

Any new name would have to be approved by the Legislature, and Castillo said a new name could be in place by fall. He and Wilson met with the Chronicle editorial board Tuesday to explain their reasoning.

Regents voted last month to support the change but stopped short of recommending the name Castillo proposed: Houston Metropolitan University.

That’s still under consideration, however, along with University of South Texas, University of Southeast Texas, Gulf Coast State University and other options. Faculty, staff and students will vote on their top five choices; the vote ends Tuesday.

Regents will select a new name in February.

Michelle Moosally, an associate professor of English and president of the faculty Senate, said it’s been hard to gauge reaction, partially because classes just resumed after the holiday break.

Some people don’t want the name changed, she said. Others support a change, but don’t like any of the proposed names. And some feel rushed into making a decision.

Castillo acknowledged that the idea is not universally popular. “Right now, I’m the kiss of death on campus,” he said.

Hey, I liked Houston Metropolitan University, even if the regents didn’t. While it would probably be better to build a stronger consensus for whatever new name they choose, the fact is that the Lege is only in session for so long, and the more time you have to shepherd a bill through the process, the better your odds of success are. Frankly, I won’t be surprised if they don’t get a bill through and have to wait till 2011 to get this done. There’s also now some organized opposition to this – I got notice of a Facebook group called UH-D Community Standing Together, with the description “As students, graduates, faculty, staff & friends, we say NO to the name change.” I don’t really have a preference as to whether they go forward with this or not, I just wish them all luck in figuring it out, whatever happens.

The University of Something Else

UH-Downtown has officially voted to change its name, but its regents haven’t decided what that new name ought to be just yet.

UH regents today voted to pursue a new name for the 34-year-old school, with a majority agreeing that too many people confuse the downtown campus with the flagship University of Houston campus less than five miles away.

They considered Houston Metropolitan University, but dropped that at the last minute after many people — including faculty members from UH-Downtown — opposed it.

Regents said they will choose a proposed name by Jan. 30.

“We need a name that faithfully and appropriately reflects who we are,” Akif Uzman, chairman of the department of natural sciences at UH-Downtown, told regents. “Houston Metropolitan University does neither.”

In the academic world, “metropolitan” often is used for vocational or technical schools, he said. And it also risks the school being confused with the local transit system, he said.

“It does not carry the gravitas that UH-D deserves,” Uzman said.

Houston Metropolitan University was the name I liked. So much for that. Y’all are on your own from here on out. Stace has more.

Another UH-Downtown renaming update

UH-Downtown, which has been pursuing a new name and a more distinctive identity, is getting closer to making a decision.

Leaders have proposed changing the name to give the 34-year-old university a stronger identity, saying too many people think it is a satellite of the University of Houston, rather than a stand-alone campus with its own ambitions.

Longtime president Max Castillo will step down next year, leaving whoever is named to succeed him with all the promise and problems of a school designed to help educate the state’s growing population of lower-income, minority students.


A new name could better reflect what the university offers and the students it serves, Castillo said.

The main campus is downtown, but it also offers classes through Lone Star College in Kingwood and Cy-Fair.

The UH governing board last summer authorized the school to explore a new name. A board committee will consider the options Friday, with a full vote possible the following week.

Among the suggestions: City University of Houston, Houston Metropolitan University, Southeast Texas State University and Hobby State University, a nod to the Hobby family’s contributions to education.

A new name would help people to distinguish between UH-Downtown and the main campus, especially as UH pushes to improve its national ranking, said Madeline Johnson, a marketing professor at UH-Downtown.

Given that the Directional State convention seems to be falling out of favor these days, if those are my choices I’d probably pick Houston Metropolitan University. What do you think?