The University of Houston is merging two colleges as part of its previously stated goal to become one of the country's top public universities.
The College of Technology will reside within the Cullen College of Engineering as the Technology Division. According to a tweet from UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator, this makes the engineering college the third-largest in Texas.
The merger aligns with UH’s goal of being ranked as a top-50 public university by U.S. News & World Report, according to a FAQ sheet about the merger published on Feb. 24. In the Best Colleges 2022-23 rankings U.S. News published in September, UH ranked No. 182 on the National Universities list, tied with 11 other schools, and at No. 91 on the Top Public Schools list.
According to the FAQ sheet, most of the top 100 universities ranked by U.S. News & World Report house their engineering and technology programs under a single academic entity.
The merger will help students and faculty by reducing duplication, leveraging joint resources and helping the school better align with the needs of the region, according to the FAQ sheet.
Under the merged college, newly developed programs will incorporate theoretical and practical views of their respective disciplines. Meanwhile, faculty will have better access to interdisciplinary grants that require theoretical and applied approaches. UH expects this to lead to more patents, technology transfer and new products.
The merged college is also expected to enhance retention and graduation rates for students, who will have access to combined career resources, the FAQ sheet said.
During the 2022 President’s Fall Address, Khator said the university needs to double down on student success. UH aims to increase the six-year graduation rate to 70%. Currently, UH’s rate is 63%, which is an increase from the 2013 rate of 48%.
"Graduation is important, but equally important is the skillset that students are graduating with," Khator said, adding that UH needs to find ways to give students “a competitive advantage that is uniquely Houston, that takes advantage of the vibrant economy around us.”
The merger is also expected to help industries such as manufacturing, energy transition, aerospace and health care in the city, region and state. UH hopes to position Houston as a leader in these areas, the FAQ sheet said.
Initially, UH created a 10-member faculty task force from the two colleges to analyze a potential merger focusing on three principles: "the university’s commitment toward student success and national competitiveness must be maintained; the change has to make programs in both colleges stronger; and the process should be transparent and inclusive," per the FAQ sheet. Ultimately, the University of Houston System Board of Regents approved the merger Feb. 23.
The effective date is March 1, but the transition phase, which will be guided by the system’s new provost, Diane Chase, will last for a year. In addition to the Transition Committee, which includes the deans of the Cullen College of Engineering and College of Technology, UH also formed the Governance, Student Success, Faculty and Staff Advancement, and Branding subcommittees to ensure a smooth implementation of the merger.
“The newly merged Cullen College of Engineering will have access to, and responsibility for, serving three locations: UH, UH at Sugar Land, and UH at Katy,” Khator said. “The transition of technology programs to UH at Sugar Land, which started before the merger, will continue except in situations where a program’s home needs to be on the main campus. The leadership of the newly merged Cullen College of Engineering will determine how to maximize the use of the three locations to serve students and the region in the most effective way possible.”
UH opened a College of Technology building in Sugar Land in 2019, and all of the college's programs and departments are expected to move there by 2025, according to the university's website. The Computer Information System program is expected to be fully transitioned to this campus by fall 2023. Human Development and Consumer Science transitioned its executive Master’s in Human Resource Development to UHSL, too.
UH is No. 2 on the Houston Business Journal’s 2022 Largest Houston-Area Colleges and Universities List, based on its 46,702 students enrolled in the spring 2022 semester, second only to Lone Star College. The university also has 3,204 faculty and 3,461 full-time employees.