From the Office of State Senator Glenn Hegar, District 18

For Immediate Release
February 2, 2009
Contact: Lisa Craven
(512) 463-0118

Senator Hegar Seeks Four-Year University Status for University of Houston at Victoria

(AUSTIN, TEXAS) — Senator Glenn Hegar is extremely pleased to announce that he has filed legislation to grant the University of Houston at Victoria (UHV) four-year university status. "Today marks a significant step forward in turning a vision, that so many have worked towards over the past several years, into a reality by making UHV a four-year university," said Senator Hegar. "As we proceed, I look forward to working with my dear friend and colleague, Representative Geanie Morrison, who has been a strong champion of higher education for both the State of Texas and her home county of Victoria."

UHV is one of only four upper division universities remaining in the country. Upper division universities are restricted by law to serve only third and fourth year university students, a limitation that impedes their growth. Senate Bill 567 (SB 567) would lift that limitation by giving UHV the authority to offer freshman and sophomore course instruction.

Established in 1973 as an upper division university, the University of Houston at Victoria provided students from the Coastal Bend region of Texas accessibility to complete a degree. Over time, however, it has become apparent that its upper level status has prevented the university from achieving its full potential in terms of enrollment, efficient use of faculty, and providing its students with a diverse learning environment.

Today, over 2,000 students graduate from local high schools in The Victoria College (VC) service area, 400 of which are enrolled at VC and are likely transfers into UHV. In the San Antonio, Austin, and Houston Metropolitan areas, nearly 90,000 students graduate from high schools annually. As a four-year destination university, UHV could potentially recruit from these fast growing areas and attract freshman students to engage in coursework at both UHV and VC.

Expanding UHV to a four-year university will provide greater access and choice in higher education for residents of the Coastal Bend and South Texas regions. Moreover, the expansion of UHV will provide an economic boost to the City of Victoria and the surrounding communities by attracting students, professionals, and corporations to the area. All principal stakeholder groups, including the University of Houston System Board of Regents, The Victoria College Board of Directors, the Victoria Economic Development Corporation, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, the Victoria County Commissioners, as well as the UHV Faculty Senate, Student Government Association and Staff Council, favor lifting the restrictions that prohibit the admission of freshman and sophomore students to allow UHV to transition to a four-year university.

Upon filing SB 567, Senator Hegar immediately began working with Senate Leadership, including Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Florence Shapiro, to ensure broad support of this important piece of legislation as it moves through the legislative process.

“As our state's population grows, we must focus on expanding the educational opportunities available to our students. The Victoria community deserves to have a growing and flourishing four-year university and I look forward to showcasing both UHV's proven track record of student success and the tremendous community support for this downward expansion to my fellow legislators this session. I am truly humbled and very proud to be a part of making this dream a reality for the Victoria community, which is perfectly situated for a four-year university,” concluded Senator Hegar.

Senator Hegar served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives and now represents Senate District 18 in the Texas Senate. Senator Hegar is a sixth generation Texan, and earns a living farming rice and corn on land that has been in his family since the mid 1800's. He currently resides in Katy, Texas with his wife Dara, and their three children, Claire, Julia, and Jonah.