Q&A: Hear from leaders of 3 Katy-area higher education institutions

Despite pandemic-related obstacles, three Katy-area higher education institutions have managed to continue campus and curriculum improvements. (Courtesy Creative Commons)
Despite pandemic-related obstacles, three Katy-area higher education institutions have managed to continue campus and curriculum improvements. (Courtesy Creative Commons)

Despite pandemic-related obstacles, three Katy-area higher education institutions have managed to continue campus and curriculum improvements. (Courtesy Creative Commons)

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Karla DeCuir, senior director of enrollment management and external affairs at the University of Houston-Victoria at Katy
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Jay Neal, associate vice president and chief operating officer, University of Houston at Katy
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Susan Stangl Thompson, program director of engineering and STEM initiatives at Houston Community College
Leaders from three local Katy-area higher learning institutions put the spotlight on some new programs, initiatives and accomplishments. Despite pandemic-related obstacles, all three institutions have managed to continue campus and curriculum improvements.

The higher education leaders were asked to speak about a recent policy, program or initiative that they are excited about. Their answers are below.

Karla DeCuir, University of Houston-Victoria at Katy senior director of enrollment management and external affairs

The University of Houston-Victoria at Katy is excited to share the launch of a new adult completion program. This program has been designed to help working professionals who have significant work experience but are in need of a bachelor’s degree to continue advancing in their careers. The program will focus on easier admission for students who have been out of college for a number of years, friendly degree plans that allow students to maximize the number of credits transferred to get them closer to their end goal andflexible class schedules that cater to working adults. The Greater Katy area continues to grow, which also means more job opportunities. UHV Katy wants to help prepare its residents to be ready for career advancement as their community continues to grow.

Jay Neal, University of Houston at Katy associate vice president and chief operating officer


UH at Katy opened in 2019, welcoming students who aspire to professions in nursing and engineering. One of our greatest projects has been creating the blueprint for higher education opportunities in our region. Our new strategic plan will span through 2025 and has been created with the support and input of [the] state and local community, industry and education leaders, all focused on crafting a strategy that not only looked like Katy, but impacted Katy and beyond. The programs offered at our Katy Instructional Site reflect the workforce needs of the region. Our UH College of Engineering and HCC came together to help more students become engineers. Industry and academics also is a critical partnership. HCA Houston Healthcare invested in our College of Nursing’s Simulation Center for students to receive real-world clinical training. These relationships matter to our current students and our future workforce.

Susan Stangl Thompson, Houston Community College Northwest program director of engineering and STEM initiatives

The University of Houston (UH- Main Campus) and Houston Community College (HCC) have created a unique engineering partnership: The UH/HCC Engineering Academy at Katy. Students are co-enrolled at both institutions and are official UH Engineering Cougars from the very first day. The academy offers students an opportunity to earn thefirst two years of a four-year degree in civil, electrical, computer, industrial and mechanical engineering, which will be completed at UH Main campus. In addition, three new engineering degrees have been created, which can be completed at UH at Katy: construction engineering, computer engineering, and analytics and systems engineering. Benefits of the program include access to student services, activities and organizations at both institutions; smaller class sizes; and lower tuition and fees. Cohort classes are taught at the HCC Katy campus and the UH Katy campus at predetermined times. Start in Katy,finish in Katy.

Note: This story is part of Community Impact Newspaper's 2021 Higher Education Guide, which ran in the April print edition. Find related stories online or read the entire guide in the e-edition here.
By Morgan Theophil
Morgan joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2021 as the reporter for the Katy edition. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism in 2018.
By Laura Aebi

Editor, Katy and Sugar Land/Missouri City

Laura joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2020 after a few years in the public relations industry. Laura graduated from Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Originally from North Texas, Laura relocated to Houston after spending three years in Pacific Northwest. Previously, she interned with two radio stations in Central Texas and held the role of features editor at the San Marcos Daily Record. Laura writes about local government, development, transportation, education, real estate and small businesses in these communities.