May 26, 2023
The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for the University of Houston System (UHS) hosted the 7th University of Houston System’s Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Leadership Conference on May 24, 2023, on the campus of the University of Houston-Clear Lake. The UHS Leadership Conference brought together 350 staff members from all four institutions within the University of Houston (UH) System to provide a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and networking.
The conference is an invaluable opportunity for professionals in student affairs and enrollment services to exchange best practices, gain insights, and foster a supportive community within the UH System. The conference was created in 2016 when student affairs and enrollment services were under the leadership of the then Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services. Although Enrollment Services was realigned with the Office of the Provost at UH and in the UHS, the staff elected to continue our partnership in providing this annual professional development investment. The conference will continue to be coordinated through the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Notably, the event did not take place in 2020 due to the pandemic and was conducted online in 2021. However, the conference returned to an in-person format for both 2022 and 2023.
The conference is traditionally held in May following the respective commencement activities and before the summer orientation programs kick-off. This year’s conference theme was “4-ORGING INTO THE FUTURE” and had over 350+ staff members across four institutions in attendance, 36 educational workshops, and a keynote address from University of Houston-Downtown President Dr. Loren Blanchard.
The educational workshops featured at the conference covered four main categories: Best Practices, Collaboration and Building Bridges, New Horizon, and Professional Development, ensuring a comprehensive exploration of key topics and trends in the field. With 36 workshops in total, attendees had the opportunity to engage in in-depth discussions, learn from experts, and gain practical skills that can be applied to their respective roles. The workshops aimed to equip professionals with the tools necessary to support student success and enhance the overall student experience within the UH System.
One of the highlights of the conference was the keynote address delivered by Dr. Loren Blanchard, President of the University of Houston-Downtown. President Blanchard shared his expertise on the topic “Elements of a Student Success Model.” In this thought-provoking presentation, he discussed how in the aftermath of Covid-19, an increasing number of students entered the University without optimal readiness. He further discussed that their lack of readiness ranges from lagging academic skills to underdeveloped executive functioning to insufficient financial means.
Dr. Blanchard walked through six evidenced-based principles of student success using the University of Houston-Downtown's current strategic plan as a model. He identified both Student Affairs and Enrollment Management as key partners in the effort to maximize student success, challenges to administrative practices that hinder student progress, and offered strategies for a holistic approach to improve retention and graduation while ensuring students are prepared for the rigorous demands of our complex workforces.
The UHS Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Tri-Chairs, including Katina McGhee, assistant provost for campus solutions, Dr. Monica Thompson, interim associate vice chancellor/associate vice president of student affairs & executive director for university career services, and Don Yackley, assistant vice president for student affairs expressed “great pride in the diverse program sessions offered by our colleagues in Enrollment Services and Student Affairs from all four institutions. We are excited that this year’s conference had the highest attendance ever and featured the largest number of educational sessions.”
The conference served as a platform for professionals to connect, collaborate, and exchange ideas, strengthening the UH System's commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for students. By leveraging the collective knowledge and experiences of the staff, the UH System continues to enhance the student experience of its diverse student population through the programs and services provided by staff in student affairs and enrollment services.
Reflecting on the conference’s success, Dr. Daniel Maxwell, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, UH System, expressed his appreciation for the dedication and enthusiasm displayed by colleagues across the UH system. “I am always humbled by the commitment of our student affairs and enrollment services colleagues from across the UH System in not only their participation in this annual event but their willingness to present and share their insight on successful, better practice programs, services, and activities that support student success,” stated Dr. Maxwell.
As the conference came to a close, attendees left with renewed inspiration, a wealth of new knowledge, and a strengthened network of colleagues from across the UH System. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs looks forward to continuing this annual tradition, empowering professionals to drive positive change and elevate student success within the UH System.