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A Jaguar Journey: My Freshman Year
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Robert K. “Bob” Glenn has spent more than three decades in higher education, serving students throughout. He became the 10th president of the University of Houston-Victoria on Aug. 1, 2018. Prior to moving to Victoria with his wife, Laurie, he served as the 36th president of Athens State University for 10 years. Glenn also was vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services at Middle Tennessee State University (1999-2008) and dean of students at Missouri State University (1993-1999). His “A Jaguar Journey: My Freshman Year” blog is intended to provide members of the UHV faculty, staff and student body, as well as alumni and members of the community, a direct connection to what he is doing as the new UHV president. Readers are encouraged to share their views and ideas by posting to the comments section.  

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Top tags: UHV  destination campus  Victoria  James and Deborah Fallows  academic leader  Alfred Adler  Alvaro De La Cruz  annual report  Bennett-Wood Family  Bingxin Wu  Birmingham-Southern College  China  David Cockrum  destination town  destination university  Dr. Bob Glenn  freshman year  impact  jaguar journey  Jinluban  make a difference  national politics  provost  Rebuild Texas Fund  Roger Welder  San Francisco 49ers  School of Business Administration  solutions  Thought Exchange  thoughts 

Successful cities focus on practical problems, not national politics

Posted By Dr. Bob Glenn, Monday, February 11, 2019

 

In my last blog post, I talked about maintaining part of my focus as UHV president on helping Victoria become a “destination” in its own right as we work to make UHV a destination campus. I mentioned a book that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to join the work to make our city more livable and more attractive for newcomers. The book is “Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America” by Deborah and James Fallows.

 

This journalistic duo traveled around the country looking at cities that were thriving and undergoing a resurgence. They developed a list of 10 1/2 signs of civic success. Here is what they listed as the first sign:

 

People work together on practical local possibilities rather than allowing bitter disagreements about national politics to keep them apart. “We were traveling during the run-up to the bitter midterm elections of 2014, and then while the Supreme Court was ruling on same-sex marriage and Obamacare, and then as the 2016 presidential campaign, including the Trump insurgency, was gathering steam. People knew we were visiting from Washington, and some learned, by asking, that I had once worked for a Democratic president. Given the places we were traveling, I imagine that many of the people we interviewed were Trump supporters. But it just didn’t come up. Cable TV shows often were playing in the background – most frequently Fox News – and if people had stopped to talk about the TV fare, they might have disagreed with each other and with us. Yet overwhelmingly, the focus in successful towns was not on insoluble national divisions but on practical problems a community could address. The more often national politics came into local discussions, the worse shape the town likely was to be in.”

 

There is no question that we live in contentious times. Every day our newspapers and TV news programs are crammed with examples of division. And yet, the Fallows found people across the country who could work with other people at opposite ends of the political divide to achieve success on local issues. We may not be able to agree on who should be president, but we can agree that we need a greenway along the Guadalupe River. Barbs may fly when we talk about who should be in Congress, but we all can agree that we need more and better restaurants.

 

So here is my question for this week: What needs to be done in Victoria to make it a destination? What local projects can we can agree on and focus our resources and energies toward? Again, I would invite you to contact me at glennrk@uhv.edu, and tell me the one or two projects that are important to you and that you would be ready to work on with others to solve. Next week, I will talk about what I hear, or in the absence of responses, I will talk about the projects I hope will generate some excitement. So don’t be bashful. Let me hear from you.

Tags:  destination campus  James and Deborah Fallows  national politics  UHV  Victoria 

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Creating destination campus requires destination community

Posted By Bob Glenn, Friday, February 1, 2019

 

One of the most important responsibilities of a university president is to be a leader. But it is important to remember that the duty to lead is not confined to just campus. A university and the community in which it is located are inextricably intertwined. Whatever is good for the university is good for the community. And whatever is good for the community is also good for the university.

 

Consequently, as I have contemplated my work here, I have been spending part of my time thinking about what needs to be done in Victoria in addition to what needs to be done on campus.

 

My charge from the chancellor is to make UHV a “destination campus.” While I still am trying to get a clear vision of exactly what that means, one thing is crystal clear. For UHV to be a destination, we have to have a place where potential students will be excited about spending three to four years of their lives. And that means that Victoria itself has to become more of a destination.

 

In talking with area industry leaders, I found that they face a similar struggle. They are not trying to attract college students, but they are trying to recruit young professionals to this area. Many have expressed frustration that they can get a young professional to come to this area, but more often than not, they don’t stay. Quality of life is almost always the reason they leave.

 

I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that Victoria does not have the quality of life amenities to attract and retain residents. My wife and I, as new residents, have been delighted with what we have found here. But we are not young professionals or students. In my view, there is work to be done to make Victoria more vibrant. The university has a role to play in making that happen.

 

Toward that end, I have begun meeting with a small group of community leaders. We have talked about past efforts that have come and gone. And we have talked about the best way we can move forward, here and now. Naturally, this group will need to expand over time, and we need to bring more voices into the conversation. And that is the point of this post. If you care about Victoria and are willing to be a part of the discussion, please let me know. There is enough work that will need to be done on campus and in the community to keep a large cadre of committed volunteers busy for a very long time.

 

A saying that always has meant a great deal to me over the years is one by Reinhold Niebuhr. He said, “There is no greater sinner than the man who does nothing because he cannot do it all.” I fully realize that making UHV and Victoria a “destination” is an accomplishment that will not be achieved during my tenure. Work such as this takes many years to finish. But I – we – can make a good start. We can do the work that is in front of us knowing that it will lead to the desired result. I am committed to dedicating my time, efforts and resources to this work, and I will commit the university to help in the effort in every way that is prudent and appropriate. I hope that some of you who are reading this now will be willing to make the same commitment. If you are, please drop me a line at glennrk@uhv.edu. I would be delighted to bring you into the conversation.

 

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing with you more thoughts about this topic, and in particular, I want to share a book I am reading that I believe is on-point. It is called “Our Towns” by James and Deborah Fallows. You might want to check it out. More to come. 

Tags:  destination campus  destination town  James and Deborah Fallows  UHV  Victoria 

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Trip to China expands opportunities for UHV

Posted By Dr. Bob Glenn, Thursday, December 13, 2018

 

Just after Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to travel to China along with David Cockrum, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Jifu Wang, associate dean of the School of Business Administration, on behalf of the university. It was my first visit to both China and Asia, and it was a wonderful experience. We were there to visit with Chairman Bingxin Wu, founder of Sanzhu Hi-tech Enterprise, the Shandong Institute of Commerce and Technology and the Shandong Jinluban Group. I found the country to be beautiful and the people to be warm and hospitable. It was a great week for me and for the university.

 

Chairman Wu is an old friend of UHV and received an honorary degree from the university in 2016. He owns and operates a successful set of companies that produce health products and cosmetics, all of which are completely natural. He also is a well-known economist, known for his theory of Consumption Economics. In addition to signing a Memorandum of Understanding for our institutions to continue to engage in an international exchange program where our students have an opportunity to study at his institute, Chairman Wu is committed to helping support the cost of attendance for our students and support for our School of Business Administration faculty.

 

Next came a visit to Shandong Institute of Commerce and Technology. The institute is interested in establishing a program for the exchange of students between the two institutions, as well as for UHV to recruit students from their ranks to come here to finish their degree programs. SICT also has a strong interest in the possibility of our faculty teaching on its campus for short terms. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed to explore the opportunities.

 

And finally, we met with the officers of the Shandong Jinluban Group. This group is a multibillion-dollar corporation that has experienced steady growth during recent years and has a strong interest in working with us to recruit Chinese students to study at UHV. Interestingly, one of the principal vice presidents, James Ma, is an alumnus and is both excited and enthusiastic about our prospects of creating a pipeline of Chinese students from that province of his country. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed, and I look forward to working with the Jinluban group in the coming year.

 

I am convinced since arriving at UHV that there are many opportunities for us to expand this institution. I am even more convinced now that I see the opportunities that exist for us to grow in ways that I had not anticipated. We already have about 180 international students, and I am optimistic about our prospect of extending our impact and increasing our influence around the world. This is a dynamic time in the history of the institution, and I am very proud to play a part. I hope you are as well.

Tags:  Bingxin Wu  China  Jinluban  School of Business Administration  UHV 

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Participation needed in UHV Katy Thought Exchange

Posted By Dr. Bob Glenn, Monday, November 26, 2018

 

Ever since I arrived at UHV in August, I have been “drinking from the firehose” and trying not to drown in the process. There has been a lot to learn. You have been very patient with me as I endeavored to identify the challenges and also the solutions that go with them.

 

One consistent theme has been that there are a number of challenges associated with the UHV Katy operation. But while there has been agreement about the existence of a challenge, there has been no clear sense of what the best solution is. Further, it is clear that there are some strong feelings about some of these challenges. My biggest concern from the beginning was how to gather viewpoints in a way that would be both accurate and collegial. I was concerned about conducting focus groups because sometimes people are reticent to share their true thoughts for fear of being labeled. I also was concerned that we might get sidetracked with accusations and attributions. Sometimes when feelings run high, we can’t see the forest because we are angry with the tree we are standing next to at the time.

 

Fortunately, I do think there is a way to gather information that will allow folks to share their thoughts candidly and safely. And there is a way to do so that will allow you to see what others are saying and even evaluate those other views, again in a secure and confidential manner. It is a program called Thought Exchange.

 

Thought Exchange is a web-based portal where you can go into a chat room of sorts, see what others are saying, express your views and then evaluate both your views and the views of others. At the conclusion of the process, we will be able to determine what the common threads are within the discussion that will allow us to weave an appropriate strategy.

 

You can learn more about Thought Exchange and the process at www.thoughtexchange.com, and I will share more information soon about how you can participate in the initiative. We will open our “chat room” on Monday, Dec. 3. It will remain available to you until Monday, Dec. 17. During that time, you can visit the site as often as you would like to see others’ thoughts, as well as to see how your thoughts are eliciting responses from your colleagues.

 

During the holidays, the staff of Thought Exchange will evaluate the total set of responses and prepare a report for me to review. I will not be given access to the original posting. I will not have access to the identity of who made what response. I will only be given aggregate data. I then will arrange for a series of meetings in Katy for me to share what we have learned and begin our conversation about how to deal with our opportunities.

 

Again, I have been appreciative of your patience with me to this point, but I also recognize that the time has come to begin to take concrete action. I can’t do it alone. I need your help. Here is your opportunity to shape the solutions we will use. Great things lie ahead for this university, especially if we can link arms and go forward together. I thank you in advance for your participation. I look forward to seeing your thoughts. Have a great week.

Tags:  solutions  Thought Exchange  thoughts  UHV  UHV Katy 

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UHV annual report event recognized outstanding individuals

Posted By Dr. Bob Glenn, Friday, November 16, 2018

 

On Tuesday, we hosted the UHV President’s Annual Report & Excellence Awards event during which we celebrated accomplishments of the past year and awarded a number of important recognitions. I would encourage you to visit the website for this program at uhvannualreport.com. You can view the videos presented that night, including video recordings of the program itself. It was a great event and an inspiring night for me as I listened to all the great things that have happened at UHV during the last year, in spite of a rocky start because of Hurricane Harvey. This is a great university, and we are doing great things for our students and our region.

 

During the event, we gave out four important awards. The first award was the Student Leadership Award, which is intended to recognize an exceptional student for his or her accomplishments at UHV. This year, the award went to Alvaro De La Cruz. Alvaro is a senior biology major from Converse who plans to attend medical school after graduation. He was president of the Student Government Association last year in addition to being active in several student organizations. Additionally, he continues in his role as a senior resident assistant by training new staff while he takes care of his residents. 

 

The next award was the Community Partnership Award, which was presented to the Rebuild Texas Fund. The Rebuild Texas Fund provided UHV with a $100,000 grant to aid students after Hurricane Harvey. More than 200 UHV students have received funds so far through the UHV Relief Fund and probably could not have persisted without that support. The award recognizes not only the grant to UHV, but also the more than $50 million the Rebuild Texas Fund has invested across the Coastal Bend region.

 

The third award, the People Who Make a Difference Award, was given to the Bennett-Wood Family in recognition of its 65-acre gift of land near the Victoria Regional Airport that eventually will house the university’s athletic facilities. At the time, the gift, valued at more than $800,000, was the second-largest single gift in the history of the institution. The Bennett-Wood Family has a long history of supporting education in Victoria, and this gift was made 100 years after William Wood made a gift of land to the city, on which an elementary school bearing his name now stands. This gift will be a game changer for our student-athletes and the athletics program.

 

The final award of the evening was the Presidential Medal. This award is the highest recognition awarded by the university to an individual for exceptional service to the university and the community. The recipient has defined service to the community and to higher education, having served as a regent for the University of Houston System, in addition to a wide variety of boards in the community. Victoria resident Roger Welder clearly epitomizes the definition of public service and spirit.

 

In each and every case, the recipients of these awards were humbled by the honor and did not think of themselves as having done anything exceptional but rather were simply doing what they should as a member of the community. Each one of these recipients demonstrates that greatness always resides in a humble heart and always is there when we seek first to serve others. UHV truly is fortunate to have these men and women as a part of our community. I feel fortunate to be a part of the UHV community, and I hope you do as well.

Tags:  Alvaro De La Cruz  annual report  Bennett-Wood Family  Rebuild Texas Fund  Roger Welder  UHV 

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Make a difference in someone's life today

Posted By Dr. Bob Glenn, Friday, November 9, 2018

 

I received a truly wonderful surprise this past week when the following message arrived in my Facebook Messenger:

 

Hi Bob, This a private message of thanks from me to you. I attended a house staff retreat you administered at BSC on “assertiveness” back in 1980. It really hit home with me, and many of the concepts I went on to share with my kids. Nick used some of those concepts in his experience along his path, so I thought of you during this interview. Best wishes always. Mark

 

Mark, a cardiovascular surgeon, was a member of my housing staff at Birmingham-Southern College, where I was director of student services. The interview he mentions was conducted after his son’s start as quarterback for the San Francisco 49s, where he described his first professional victory over the Oakland Raiders.

 

I always enjoy hearing from students I worked with through the years. One of my former orientation counselors sent me flowers shortly after I arrived here. That is the kind of experience that warms my heart. And when you find out that you had a real impact on a person – so much so that they want to pass it along to their children – well, that just makes you feel especially good.

 

It is also a reminder that we are in a business where if we do our job well, we can change a life forever. Every member of our faculty and staff has the opportunity to touch the lives of our students every day. Sometimes we forget about that when answering questions that have been asked many times before or when a student is being difficult, which students sometimes can be.

 

Every encounter we have gives us a chance to make a difference that we may not know about until 30 years later. But I would argue that we should start every day knowing that we have a chance today to impact another person. Not every person in every job has that opportunity or that responsibility. I would argue that making a difference in the life of another person is a responsibility. It is not to be taken lightly, and it is not to be ignored.

 

I know there are others here who could tell a similar story. I would love to hear those stories if you would be willing to share. I would say to each faculty and staff member here: Do good work today because it makes a difference. You make a difference. Have a great week!

Tags:  Birmingham-Southern College  impact  make a difference  San Francisco 49ers  UHV 

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Give me your thoughts about skills needed for new provost

Posted By Dr. Bob Glenn, Friday, November 2, 2018

One of the things I learned in my graduate studies was a maxim often used by Alfred Adler: You cannot control what happens to you, but you are in control of how you will react. This maxim came to mind as I looked at my grandmother’s dining room table in pieces in the hands of the movers. The good news is that a competent furniture repair person will be able to put it all back together and all will, eventually, be fine. But the point remains that we all have to respond to what happens to us, and we always have a choice when it comes to that response. Now I just have to keep reminding myself of that as I stand in the middle of a living room filled with boxes!

 

At the same time, we have a few boxes to unpack here at UHV, and I will need your help with them. The first one is the selection of new provost to replace David Cockrum, who has capably been serving as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at UHV. We are moving forward to assemble a screening committee. The deans have notified me of their choices. The UHV Faculty Senate will be meeting this week to make its recommendations, and the Staff Council and Student Government Association will be doing so soon. The first job of the committee will be to review the current job description and the last job announcement used to bring both up to date and make a recommendation to the UHV Executive Committee so we can have the job posted in early January.

 

So, this is where you come in. What are your thoughts about what skills, abilities and attributes we should be seeking in a new academic leader? Regardless of whether you are faculty or staff, or spend your time on the main campus in Victoria or at UHV Katy, I know you have views, and I would like to hear them. Please take a moment now or in the next few weeks to share your thoughts. You can leave a comment here, or send it to me directly at glennrk@uhv.edu. Thank you in advance to your willingness to help. I will keep you posted as we move forward.  Have a great week.

Tags:  academic leader  Alfred Adler  David Cockrum  provost  UHV 

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Group works to shape Victoria's future

Posted By Dr. Bob Glenn, Friday, October 26, 2018

 

This past week has been exceptionally busy. Our transition to a new home has become more firmly established. Laurie and I closed on the new home and will be moving in next week. The good news is that we will be able to unpack our boxes and settle into our new house. The bad news is that we have a lot of boxes. We also traveled to New York City for our son’s wedding. The Big Apple can be daunting enough on its own, but when you throw in all the activities with a wedding, new in-laws, etc. Well, let’s just say it’s good to be back home.

 

But the activity I am most excited about from the past week is a conversation we started with the community about the future of Victoria. On Monday, we had the first meeting with a group of community leaders about working together to shape our future. The primary task assigned to me was to make our main campus in Victoria a “destination campus.” This does not mean that the Katy teaching center won’t also be a “destination,” but here we want to establish a residential campus. That means we want students to come and live with us here in this place. As I see it, that means making our campus a place where students want to live, and that also means Victoria has to become a destination for students. Victoria, a place I am personally pleased to call home, has to evolve into a place that college students will want to call home.

 

The conversation we started last Monday was about how UHV can work with the community to affect change and what kind of change we want to pursue. We will have to have many, many conversations. The composition of our discussion groups will likely change repeatedly, and we will need to engage a large number of community members. In addition, we will need to have focus groups with faculty, staff and students. I am hopeful that many of the leaders within our campus community also will assume leadership within the movement to transform Victoria. I will keep you posted on our progress, but in the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts. What would you change/improve/add/delete about Victoria? Would you be willing to be an agent of change? What is your vision for making UHV/Victoria a “destination?” I hope you will join the conversation.

Tags:  destination campus  UHV  University of Houston-Victoria  Victoria  wedding 

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I'm looking for your feedback

Posted By Dr. Bob Glenn, Friday, October 19, 2018
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2018

 

Dr. Bob GlennWelcome to what I hope will be a regular weekly blog to detail my “freshman year” at the University of Houston-Victoria. Just like members of our UHV freshman class, I packed all my worldly belongings into cardboard boxes and moved them into a rental here in Victoria. I’ve now begun the process of getting to know the university and the community. (I have enjoyed rediscovering Texas barbecue, which I have had to live without for many years, at places like Mumford’s and the Fire Pit. I know there are many other good places I have yet to visit. Perhaps you would like to suggest your favorite.) As I start this blog, I plan to focus on what I am learning about my new home. As we get to know one another, I will focus on what I think is the vision for the university’s future and, I hope, also a vision for Victoria’s future.

 

I can start by saying that Laurie and I think that we have come to a great place to make our new home. UHV is at a dynamic point in its history, and there are great things in store for our future. The university community could not have been more gracious and warm in welcoming us here and expressing confidence in our abilities. And the larger community also has been open, cordial and welcoming. We have been impressed with not only the way folks have welcomed us to town, but also the enthusiasm natives and newcomers alike have for living here. We are excited about our future in our new hometown.

 

And there is good work to be done at the university. I am encouraged by the caliber of professionals I have encountered across campus. It is clear that people feel strong loyalty to this institution and are ready to do their part in working to make UHV the best university it can be. The goal of making UHV a Destination University is doable. The goal of having 6,000 students on the Victoria campus can be accomplished. At the same time, Katy and its immediate area will be experiencing significant growth. I believe this also will result in a substantial increase in enrollment at UHV Katy. It will require a great deal of hard work, and there will be difficult decisions and hard choices to make. I believe this is a faculty and staff who are willing to do both. I cannot do it alone. But we can do it together. I look forward to the adventure. Here, We Go! 

Tags:  destination university  Dr. Bob Glenn  freshman year  jaguar journey  UHV 

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