I just ran across this on another site where someone had posted an inquiry “what is the University of Houston like?”
If this is the wrong forum our moderators will move this but since it involves the the image of our university which directly (at least IMO) ties into athletics and since this forum gets the most traffic I thought this would be the best spot for this discussion. I do not know the person who authored this and I might disagree at the margins but I do believe he has captured the essence of some criticisms of our university and a considered answer to those. I look forward to any comments.
"The University of Houston isn’t very good at giving great first impressions. When I first walked on campus, the climate was humid, the students seemed spiritless, and the architecture looked as if a developer randomly selected designers to do whatever they want within a small, frugal budget.
Having attended the university for four years now, I can confidently assert that all of the above can seem true.
The climate on campus is the way it is because we live in what feels like the nations most humid, bipolar city for weather. You could literally be walking from around campus (2.3-ish miles) and experience four different seasons. I am now convinced that experiencing drastic changes in Houston’s weather the most adaptable college students in the continental United States.
Students on campus seem spiritless because they are exhausted. Having taken classes in almost every college, I can assure you that students at the University of Houston have a strong work-ethic. Most work a part-time or full-time job. Many older students have kids and many younger students are taking care of their parents and/or siblings.
Just yesterday I remember spending dinner talking with a friend about our life plans. Xavier (name changed for privacy) lost his mother when he was a child. His father hasn’t been able to work for almost eight years now. Xavier worked for several retail company’s for a low wage and when the time was opportune, he enrolled in college. He’s maintained a 3.9 GPA in MIS and is graduating in a few semesters. We discussed his internships at two Big 4 companies and while I was talking about my life goals by the age of 30, he stopped me. He said, “I’ve never really planned a decade out”. You see, he takes care of his father and has always concerned himself about tomorrow and the day after. Not years out.
And you might think, “Well, he’s just an anomaly”. Surprisingly, no. Xavier is among thousands of other students at the university with similar stories. Students that juggle school while managing a job, a kid, and being involved in school. And this isn’t something that is unique to our recent past. My mom took care of her brother with Muscular Dystrophy while attending college (he passed away half way through her sophomore year). My grandfather attended for his Master’s degree in Civil Engineering as a ticket to a better, more prosperous life in the United States. He left everything he knew to immigrate to a country that had just passed the Civil Rights Act. Thousands of students at the University of Houston manage to persevere every day. How could we ever expect students, with these weights on their shoulders, to walk with bubbly and happy spirits?
Of course, we’re also home to students that don’t have these burdens or responsibilities. In fact, we’re home to thousands of them. The University of Houston is where classes, races, religions, genders, sexualities, nationalities, and personalities come together for a common cause: to pursue prosperity.
And because UH has and always will serve the working class, it’s budget is constrained. It takes time for the university to create a class of alumni that have the ability to donate millions and millions of dollars. We definitely have our fare share of millionaires and billionaires, but we don’t have the masses of “$100,000” donors that private and other state-universities have in the state.
When the university was founded, it had this impeccable masterplan. The university was to grow in a nicely cut-cutter university. Trees and all. But something important happened. World War II ended. And we opened our doors to thousands of WWII veterans that wanted to redeem the promises of the GI Bill. This doubled the capacity of the university in a matter of months! The university quickly became a public state institution and had to grow faster than the budget could afford. Because of this, the university had to let go architecture. It had to build fast in order to serve its mission. In the 70s, the institution opened its doors to all ethnicities. In the 80s, immigrants began to call UH home. And recently, the institution hit a population of 42,000! And honestly, I have found the art and architecture on campus to reflect a journey of hard work and persistence, rather than an inherited sense of prestige.
How can we expect a university that serves its mission so well to be perfect? Graduating does take longer. More than half of our students are commuters. We don’t have the best buildings. We don’t have thousands of billionaire alumni. Because we’re busy opening doors to those that need an opportunity. An opportunity for prosperity.
With that being said, we are a tier-one, nationally ranked university that is home to excellent business, law, engineering, art, creative writing, physics, architecture, and restaurant management schools. We welcome 30-or so national merits every year, enroll 700-or so honors students, and our undergraduates have recently been extremely successful in winning competitions against some top-notch schools in the North East (MIT, Harvard, etc…). We’re also host the second highest population of on-campus residents (8,000+). Our students go on to become successful like Elizabeth Warren, Jim Parsons, and Tilman Fertitta (to name a few). They defy the odds and apply their consistency, work-ethic, and open-minded attitude to live the American dream.
So to answer your question concisely, my review of the University of Houston is: It is an excellent institution that serves as a bridge for all that aspire to realize the American dream and expand our perception of what is possible."