Victoria College is the latest institution to join the Houston Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) alliance, a regional collaboration of colleges and universities established in 2015 to increase college completion rates and streamline student transfer between two- and four-year institutions.
“Adding Victoria College to the Houston GPS alliance was a natural next step,” said Paula Myrick Short, University of Houston System senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and UH senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “As we continue to work collaboratively across institutions, all eyes are on us as an example of what the future of higher education might look like.”
Victoria College was established as part of the Victoria school system in 1925, but the post-war years saw an expansion of the college, with land purchased in 1948 and relocation in 1949. More than 4,000 students enrolled in fall 2016 in 31 associate degree and certificate programs.
“Being part of the Houston GPS alliance makes perfect sense for Victoria College,” said David Hinds, Victoria College president. “As the top community college transfer institution to the University of Houston-Victoria’s main campus, we have been working to more closely align our programs. UHV is a great partner for us; we are actually located on neighboring properties. We see the GPS work fits very nicely with the Pathways Framework that we have adopted here at VC. Things are changing in higher education in Texas – changing as a result of collaboration and innovation among and between institutions.”
Representatives from each institution are working collaboratively on the strategic components outlined in the memorandum of understanding (MOU). Some strategic components currently under focus include academic maps that provide students with a guideline to complete their major courses within four years, as well as math course requirements appropriate to intended majors.
“We have ensured that non-STEM majors, which traditionally required college algebra with no clear need, have options that are more closely aligned with their majors,” said Jeff Morgan, associate provost of education and technology at the University of Houston. “Through this effort, we’ve laid the groundwork to allow institutions flexibility in their course offerings, while making it easy for students to complete math requirements toward their degrees.”
Institutions will also be able to manage students’ progress in their degrees through intrusive advising technology. The Houston GPS alliance has identified a vendor to provide this technology solution, which can track degree planning and progress, provide proactive advising to students in danger of sliding “off-track,” and promote cross-institutional data sharing. Several Houston GPS institutions have purchased the technology solution, with implementation expected by fall 2018.
“We are excited to hold a spring convening that will include our newest institutional partner, Victoria College. This will be an opportunity for us to celebrate our progress to date and to build on our momentum toward full implementation,” said Teri Elkins Longacre, UH vice provost and dean of undergraduate student success and Houston GPS four-year implementation lead.
With the addition of Victoria College, 10 institutions encompassing more than 300,000 students make up the Houston GPS alliance: Houston Community College System, Lone Star College System, San Jacinto College District, Texas Southern University, University of Houston, University of Houston-Clear Lake, University of Houston-Downtown, University of Houston-Victoria, Victoria College, and Wharton County Junior College.