UH Looking To Build New Campus in Katy, Because That’s Where the Energy Is

UH LOOKING TO BUILD NEW CAMPUS IN KATY, BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THE ENERGY IS University of Houston System at Cinco Ranch, 4242 S. Mason Rd., Cinco Ranch, Katy, TexasThe University of Houston has asked state lawmakers to begin work on a $60 million tuition revenue bond that would fund a new campus in Katy, including a 60,000-sq.-ft. facility on a not-yet-identified site. The new campus would be separate from the system’s existing facility at 4242 S. Mason Rd. in Cinco Ranch (pictured above). The move closer to oil and gas firms in the Energy Corridor is part of what UH vice president for government and community affairs Jason Smith tells Community Impact news is the institution’s goal “to become the energy university for the United States.” The Katy campus “would serve the oil and gas interests there, the companies and their campuses there,” he says. Separately, university president Renu Khator last week called the award of a multi-million-dollar grant for the establishment of a UH-led Subsea Systems Institute “the culmination of years of work to establish the University of Houston as the Energy University.” (Grant monies for that institute will come from payments made by oil company BP to the state of Texas after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.) [Community Impact News; UH] Photo of University of Houston System at Cinco Ranch: Directron

29 Comment

  • This is fantastic news if they actually get plugged into what jobs are needed. I wish it didn’t have to be as far out as Katy, though. That’s a bummer.

  • I fail to see why they call it University of Houston? Isnt that city obsolete now? It should be renamed University of Katy, and placed next to the Katy-Mills Outlet mall to give it that unique college town atmosphere those hipsters tend to like.

  • This just in: People who work and live in the Energy Corridor already have degrees. In some case two or three degrees…
    Nobody can do so little with so much as UH.

  • @Pogg
    This just in, people in clear lake and downtown already have degrees. Why do they get a UH campus?

  • Really, what they should do is ask the people of katy for 60 million dollars. Just say its a high school football stadium, and instead build a university. Thats just commonsense.

  • it’s physically impossible for UH to ever be the energy university of the US. they could never have the funding to compete with the engineering curriculums in the state schools, which I certainly don’t remember as being high demand anyhow. I could imagine a high quality trade school, but lord knows why you’d put it all the way out in a terrible location like Katy with little access to Houstonians unless there were a lot of O&G companies blowing hot air their way that would never provide funding now that oils back down.

  • This seems desperate and kinda pathetic. What different does it make that oil companies are located in the Energy Corridor? You don’t see UT building satellite campuses in Round Rock because Dell is up there. UH has the worst administrators, all they want to do is spend money instead of actually focusing on making the school reputable. UH has some quality programs, like Law, Creative Writing etc, but over all it’s reputation nationally is still very poor.

  • @Houstonian
    Putting a new campus in an area that is already exceedingly affluent and educated seems silly doesn’t it? The large majority who work out there do so because they are already educated and for those who live in that area….. well let’s just say they wouldn’t be caught dead attending a UH satellite anyway.

  • What’s wrong with the existing Cinco Ranch campus? Or are they trying to say they want to create a fifth university within the UH system?

    Oh wait, I see. “[T]he current facilities and location at the University of Houston System Cinco Ranch Teaching Center were insufficient to meet future needs”. Translation: the buildings are 25-30 years old and we want new ones.

    @Houstonian: UHD and UHCL are not “campuses” of UH. They and UH Victoria are separate universities within the UH system, much like Texas A&M Corpus Christi is a separate university within the A&M system. UHS CR and UHS SL are only satellite campuses where students can take courses from UH, UHV, or UHCL (but they can access the library from UHD as well, go figure).

  • Considering that many of the big energy firms are still headquartered downtown, and the possibility of an “Energy Corridor II” in the Woodlands with the Exxon Mobil campus, it seems kinda silly to have such a site-specific campus. It’s not like all of their students will be living in or near Katy. Those who don’t might be put off by the hellish I-10 commute.

  • What is the UH Energy Research Center where the old Tellepsen HQ was doing then?
    UH has made big strides over the last 20 years and increased their quality dramatically. However, the administration there needs to realize that colleges and universities have a “brand” these days that they are selling to potential students. UH muddies their brand by having too many satellites. UH-Downtown, UH Sugar Land, UH Clear Lake, UH Victoria–they all fight for funding and recognition and pull both out of UH Central. You don’t see UT Austin having a UT Round Rock Campus, or what have you. Like Progg noted, most people in the Energy Corridor already have a degree in their field. Put the professors and the resources into the main campus and build your brand as a center of excellence that outsiders will want to be a part of.

  • UH should simply buy the upstream research campus ExxonMobil is selling. Fabulous labs already in place. Probably cheaper than building a whole nuther campus.

  • I remember taking an obscure upper-level class out there at the Cinco Ranch satellite facility. It was really inconvenient. I’m not completely against the idea of satellite facilities if they drive enrollment or especially in this case if they’re able to profitably serve the specific needs of the business community, but seriously, they should’ve paid the money back then to site it somewhere nearer to I-10.

    I’m very curious about their strategic direction in the Houston suburbs and Victoria — which UH institutions are doing what and why? That never seems to be very well explained.

  • @ShadyHeightster. As someone already mentioned. UH-Downtown, UH-Clear Lake, UH-Victoria are NOT satellite campuses of UH but rather independent campuses along with UH within the UH System.

    Cinco Ranch, Pearland, Sugarland and one other one up north are satellite campuses of the 4 universities, however. But since UH system mostly is a commuter school, all 4 of them, it make sense to bring classes to the students.

  • Don’t understand the negativity here. I’m guessing this campus would focus on programs like the Subsea Engineering masters program and executive MBA programs, both of which are popular w/ people who work in the energy corridor.
    This is not unlike UT and A&M offering MBA programs at satellite campuses in Houston, or medical schools located in the Medical Center.

  • This item is not in the list of the University’s legislative agenda, which is: 1. Full funding for new students; 2. Performance-based funding; 3. Equity funding for Pharmacy Program; 4. TRB Funding to build a Health and Biomedical Sciences II building. Perhaps the Katy thing is meant to be a sacrifice during horse trading. At any rate, the State has not funded any new university building anywhere since 2006, and with the recent events in the oil markets, chances of TRB funding are slight.

  • Yes, of course the residents who live near the Energy Corridor already have degrees. This new campus won’t be seeking them . . . it’s after their children. (Won’t someone think of the children!?)

  • I just don’t understand the continued investment in college facilities. How about a world class on-line program??

  • The argument that people in the Katy area “already have degrees” is irrelevant, for several reason. One has already been made–Katy has plenty of children that don’t yet have degrees. Another is about how a modern university serves its community. It’s not all about degree programs. I can assure you that many energy companies in Houston expect their employees to continue to take classes after graduation. Often these are specific classes dealing with aspects of the energy industry that an employee might not already know (not everyone who works for an oil company took geology or petroleum engineering on college–oil companies employ plenty of accountants and lawyers and other people who don’t have technical backgrounds). Often these are classes dealing with some aspect of business (leadership, supply chain, IT, accounting, etc.) that your average geologist never studied. It makes sense for UH to have classroom space close to its corporate non-degree customers.

  • Ok, so according to the article, “the new campus would be separate from the system’s existing facility” at Cinco Ranch. Since the UHCR is just a satellite teaching center facility, having a new actual *campus* makes me think they are creating an entirely new school a la UHCL.
    Sometimes this site is like playing SimCity, and thinking about the possibilities for a new college is like playing SimUniversity. At the very least, I would say this new campus should be grad-school-only, the way UHCL was up until last year when they decided to admit undergraduates. Unlike UHCL, this new campus should have at least one Ph.D. program, even if it’s something like Energy Policy Management or Health Informatics. The emphasis should be on R+D labs which also makes me think the idea to buy Exxon’s upstream research campus is overall the better plan for a university aspiring to be the “Energy University.”
    But if they must build it, they should also be prescient in siting it – maybe somewhere north along 99 or further out along I-10 or out along 1093 in Fulshear, or maybe along the middle-of-nowhere 529 where the land might be cheaper.
    It’s also worth noting that at least one UH-Cinco Ranch street sign was changed to say UH-West Houston, so it would seem that not everyone is on the same page. I say UH-Cinco Ranch should keep its name instead of calling it University of Houston – West Houston, and the new campus should possibly avoid having “University of Houston” in it altogether if they’re going to have the phrase “West Houston” in it.

  • No one seems to be upset about where the money is coming from yet. BP (rightly) had to pay the state after the spill, but then that money gets used to fund more research into energy (a most useful euphemism for a dirty industry) to ensure that those kinds of horrendous events can continue to happen. Basically, it seems like BP got to turn a punishment into an investment.

  • Putting a branch of the UH system focused on energy industry education close to the energy corridor is a great idea. The university could attract high quality adjunct professors who are still working in the industry and would just have to drive down the street to teach a class. Students could do internships with energy companies down the street. People in the energy industry looking for advanced degrees would not have to haul it all the way though downtown to get to classes. Once the grand parkway finishes tearing up the Katy Prairie, access to the Exxonmobil campus will be easier from Katy than from UH main campus. The main campus is very overcrowded and does not have much room to grow without spending big bucks on parking towers. Housing inside the loop for students is way too expensive now. Many end up living in apartments out in the burbs. Why not bring the University to them?

  • @Oldschool has it right. There is a lot of value added for putting Adjunct professors nearby students interested in night school. A large amount of my grad school is like this. That said, UH does still need to sort out its image. I don’t know what’s holding it back, I think that there are a lot of old guard professors that just need to go.

  • Chris, oil & gas companies can’t and don’t determine what types of energy extraction are profitable and which aren’t, american taxpayers do. These aren’t just fossil fuel companies, they’re also on the forefront of all other types of energy extraction.

  • There is PLENTY of affordable housing in proximity to UH-University Park and UH-Downtown. I accept that there are quite a few students that live in the suburbs with their families or close to a suburban workplace and that they commute long distances; I also accept that there are a number of students that are delicate little bigots (or that have parents that are overprotective bigots) . The UH System can and should respond to those issues that influence demand for suburban campuses — treading very lightly, though.

    However, what the UH System most wants is that UH-University Park should be molded into a prestigious top-tier research university. UH-Downtown, such a short distance away, was meant to serve the ‘Cougar High’ crowd for the sake of social equitability, providing a low-cost undergraduate degree that caters effectively to civic and basic business needs, a small step up from a community college; and providing that should have allowed UH-University Park to become more discerning about admissions and to develop a distinct institutional culture that is conducive to its strategic research goals. It strikes me that the UH-Downtown mission is more aligned with most of the suburban campuses, although not UH-Clear Lake. I don’t really understand where UH-CL fits in with their strategy. If anything, it bleeds off some of the heady intellectual momentum that UH-University Park really needs to consolidate for itself in order to build up its prestige and culture.

    The way that the UH System is structured right now, then, is confusing and seems conflicted. There might not be enough campuses, but there is at least one more separate university than seems appropriate. At least, that’s how it seems to me. I’m sure that there exists a rich political legacy and some legislative barriers. It’d make a great feature story for Texas Monthly to delve into.

  • UHCL, as I understand it, basically exists/existed for NASA. The campus is minimal and has maybe 2 or so classroom buildings.

  • Although they are both parts of the University of Houston system, UH downtown is a separate university from UH. It’s mascot is a gator (the ed u gator) not the cougar. So it can’t be “cougar high”. CHOMP! (that is a gator chomp, not a cougar chomp).

  • UH main campus has lots of affordable housing. But very little of that affordable housing is where parents would be willing to have their kids live. When I came to Houston to attend UH for grad school, I did not even look at living in the area around UH. Most everyone in my program was living inside the loop back then, but would not be able to afford it now (absent finding the rare garage apartment or little apartment complex with rent frozen in time).

    UH CL does have two classroom buildings, but they are pretty big. The campus is huge with lots of room for expansion.

  • This new campus should be forward looking – the idea of online offerings sounds like a good one. Coursera, not any pre-existing university, should be the model to emulate here. No one would likely be too interested in the prestige or name of such a new place, and so the true emphasis should be on presenting as much material as possible with minimal bureaucracy and maximal scalability.
    A large certificate program would be ideal, as would a non-online incubator/accelerator program (on equal terms with the labs) to capture or cultivate the “intrapreneurship” wave which may possibly go on inside the energy industry. A non-online “maker lab” (possibly with an entrepreneurial bent) similarly on equal terms with the labs would work as well.
    So for $60 million, an initial building could include the following: a dedicated digital recording and studio space for lecturers to record their lectures in a professional setting, a HPC cluster for users to use for Ph. D. work (unless this can be outsourced), some type of career and networking space for people to meet their classmates in person if they are in the area as well as for talks and lectures to be given (I was going to suggest conferences, but Katy recently decided to build their own conference center, so who knows), a “modern” library – meaning one that doesn’t have any books but provides lots of open space to study, and finally of course the office space required for faculty offices/labs, IT, co-workspace, intrapreneurship incubation, and maker labs.
    The bureaucracy itself will consist only of keycards or biometrics to get in and out of the offices in the building. I think the library and the networking/career space would take the lowest priority if $60 million can’t cover all of these things.