August 12, 2008
In two weeks, the University will open for the new academic year and we will be welcoming our students back on campus. More than five thousand new freshmen and transfer students will also be here for the very first time, reminding us once again that a university is called a university because it engages in student learning. If it were not for our students, we would be called by anything but university.
In order for us to be a nationally competitive, top-tier university that thousands of you ask for through the 100-day Plan, we must first commit to providing a nationally competitive, top-tier learning environment. Each and every one of us, irrespective of what we do in our job description, contributes toward creating that learning environment. Therefore, I am requesting you to take some time, reflect upon our mission and take pride in being a part of this significant endeavor. While doing so, consider my following requests:
- There is no place for rudeness in the Cougar Nation. We must be extremely courteous in our dealings with students. Being courteous does not mean bending rules or giving in to demands that are against our policies; it simply means going the extra mile to be helpful to students in navigating this complex university environment. Please see that you and all your colleagues treat students the way you would like to be treated if you were a student here.
- There is no place for “shuffle” in the Cougar Nation. We must be fully responsive and efficient in our processes. The less time students spend in navigating university processes, the more time they will have to devote to learning. Please have your unit review your processes by asking these simple questions: Is this the most efficient way for us to do our job? Are we using all the tools and technology at our disposal? Can we streamline any steps in the process? If I were at the receiving end of this process, how would I like this process?
- There is no place for cynicism in the Cougar Nation. We must be fully committed to our mission of providing student access and success. Once we admit a student, we have an obligation to provide her/him as much support as possible to ensure that he/she succeeds. Please review the mission of your unit and its impact on student learning.
A top-tier university manifests excellence and excellence comes with quality and rigor. Our faculty demand, and will demand even more, excellence and quality from students. As they make the requirements for learning more rigorous to meet the standards of a top-tier institution, it will become essential for us (a) to admit only those students who are academically prepared to succeed, and (b) to give them the supportive environment that will ensure their success. It would be my hope that all of our students leave from the University with diploma in hand, sparkle in their eyes, questions in their mind, and unforgettable UH memories in their hearts.
I thank you for considering my request. What you do is very important to the University’s future. If all of us do our part, I know that UH will rise to become a top-tier learning center that we all wish for it to be.
Wishing you a productive semester,