The University of Houston–Downtown (UHD) is a four-year state university, and is a separate and distinct component institution of the University of Houston System. Its campus spans 20 acres (8.1 ha) in Downtown Houston, with a satellite location in northwestern Harris County. Founded in 1974, UHD is the second-largest university in the Houston area with nearly 13,000 students. The U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 26 in its Regional Colleges (West) Rankings.
The university serves students in four academic colleges. UHD offers nearly 50 degree programs: 45 bachelors and five masters. Awarding more than 2,400 degrees annually, the university's alumni base is nearly 30,000.
Recognizing the need for a university presence in Downtown Houston, the Board of Regents of the University of Houston acquired the assets of South Texas Junior College on August 6, 1974 and then opened the University of Houston–Downtown College (UH/DC) as a four-year institution under the organization and control of the University of Houston. By August 1979, it became a stand-alone university when the 66th Texas Legislature established UH/DC as a separate and distinct institution in the University of Houston System.
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. The school purchased its first and only dormitory in 1981. The dormitory, formerly the Harley Hotel located at 101 Main Street and known as the University Center, remained in the university's possession until 1991 when it was demolished in favor of renovation.
On April 26, 1983, the word "College" was dropped from the institution's name to become University of Houston–Downtown (UHD). During this decade when Houston was booming, UHD succeeded in having the Merchants and Manufacturers Building named to the National Register of Historic Places, degree programs continued to grow, and UHD's first Red Rose Ball became a signature fundraiser. Tuition increased in 1984 to $12 per credit hour. By fall 1988, more than 8,300 students were enrolled on campus.
In 1992, Max Castillo came from San Antonio College to lead the university. During the 1990s, UHD focused on becoming a metropolitan university—appealing to traditional students as well as working professionals. During the early 1990s, UHD also began key partnerships with community colleges and it moved to meet greater Houston's demand for qualified teachers when it added a teacher certification program in urban education. During this time, the Weekend College Program began and a new Academic Building and the Jesse H. Jones Student Life Center opened.
As the 1990s ended, UHD moved ahead again, earning full approval from the Texas Legislature and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer graduate programs; the University's first master's degree in criminal justice was approved. UHD also began offering degree programs at Lone Star College–University Center and eventually at the UH System teaching center in Cinco Ranch. UHD's expansion and growth continued as a new millennium arrived. Master's degree programs in criminal justice and teaching were added. Physical growth also continued and the Willow Street Pump Station was renovated while a new, bricked-face Commerce Street Building opened at the corner of Commerce Street and Main Street—providing a new home for the College of Public Service. As UHD grew so did the number of students participating in commencement. In 2002, UHD became the first university to award degrees in Minute Maid Park. UHD won national recognition for its wireless campus and the Bachelor of Business Administration degree program in general business became the university's first on-line degree. In November 2007, the Shea Street Building opened as the new home of the UHD's College of Business.
The University of Houston–Downtown (UHD) is one of four separate and distinct institutions in the University of Houston System. The institution is separately accredited, offers its own academic programs and confers its own degrees, and has its own administration. UHD is a stand-alone university; it is not a branch campus of the University of Houston (UH). Although UHD and UH are both component institutions of the University of Houston System, they are separate degree-granting universities.
The organization and control of the University of Houston–Downtown is vested in the Board of Regents of the University of Houston System. The Board has all the rights, powers, and duties that it has with respect to the organization and control of other institutions in the System; however, UHD is maintained as a separate and distinct institution.
The president is the chief executive officer of the University of Houston–Downtown, and the position reports to the chancellor of the University of Houston System. The president is appointed by the chancellor and confirmed by the Board of Regents of the University of Houston System. As of August 2009, the president of the university is William V. Flores. The UHD administration is located on the ninth floor in the One Main Building.
The University of Houston–Downtown (UHD) is separately accredited, offers its own academic programs, and confers its own degrees. UHD is a stand-alone university; it is not a branch campus of the University of Houston (UH). Although UHD and UH are both component institutions of the University of Houston System, they are separate degree-granting universities. Students who graduate from UHD will have diplomas under the name University of Houston–Downtown.
The University of Houston–Downtown is primarily an undergraduate institution. It offers 45 undergraduate and five graduate degree programs in four academic colleges: the College of Business, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Public Service, and the College of Sciences and Technology.
As of 2012, UHD has a six-year graduation rate of 15%.
The University of Houston–Downtown was the final state university in Texas which had not yet abolished open admissions. In August 2011 the University of Texas System Board of Regents approved new admission standards for University of Texas at Brownsville, the second to last such school, and awaited the approval of the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. The University of Houston System Board of Regents unanimously approved new admissions standards in February 2012, with closed admissions for that university beginning in the northern hemisphere fall of 2013. The UT Brownsville closed admissions also are scheduled to begin in the northern hemisphere fall of 2013.
Under the new standards, students graduating in the top 25 percent of their class would automatically be admitted; those in the 26–50 percent group would need a combined SAT score of 850, a 2.5 GPA, or an ACT admissions test score of 18.
The University of Houston–Downtown (UHD) is a stand-alone university; it is not a branch campus of the University of Houston (UH). Although UHD and UH are both component institutions of the University of Houston System, they are separate degree-granting universities.
The campus of UHD is located in five buildings at the north end of Downtown Houston and the south end of Northside, next to the crossing of Interstate 10 and Main Street. The university is located near the site that Houston was founded Allen's Landing. Two of the university's buildings—One Main Building (formerly the Merchants and Manufacturers Building) and the Willow Street Pump Station—are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
UHD's student demographics consist of 39% Hispanic, 29% African American, 20% white, 9% Asian American, and 2% foreign nationals (regardless of race and/or ethnic origins). The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities has designated UHD as a Hispanic-serving institution, in recognition of the large number of Hispanic students enrolled at UHD. It is also a federally designated minority-serving institution.
Although UHD does not have an intercollegiate varsity athletics program, it does offer its students a number of club sports and intramural sports in addition to numerous fitness programs. The Department of Sports & Fitness coordinates these activities out of the Student Life Center located on the UHD campus. UHD's club sports teams are known as the Gators. The UHD mascot is known as Ed-U-Gator. The university and its community offer additional activities for students such as clubs, organizations, fraternities, and sororities.
The campus of UHD is served by METRORail's UH–Downtown station—the northern terminus of the Red Line.
In 2011, of the incoming students, excluding transfers, 62% required remedial courses. As of 2012, about 80% of UHD students work full-time or part-time. About one third of UHD students attend classes during the nighttime.