President of University of Houston Downtown has big plans for the 1st 18 months

Loren J. Blanchard fights to keep students in school by offering emergency grants, mental health services, and more.
President of University of Houston Downtown has big plans for the 1st 18 months
Photo courtesy of Brittany Mackins.

Loren J. Blanchard is a Louisiana native who frequented Houston, TX with his family as a child. His father looked forward to celebrating the Astros games while Blanchard enjoyed trips to Astroworld. After many years and a 6-year stint in California, Blanchard is now the President of the University of Houston Downtown.

Blanchard opened his office for a very intimate chat entitled “Coffee with the President” to discuss his goals for his students and the University as a whole in the first 18 months.

In what ways do you plan to provide support to the students while enrolled?

They look to us to ensure that we’re able to really help them to reach their goals. More importantly, understanding as well, they look to us to really understand some of the basic needs that they have. Oftentimes, other factors are serving as a barrier to the completion of their degrees. The most common is the food insecurity piece. We’ve got so many students who need groceries. So, we’re very proud and happy about the work that we’ve got going with our food pantry, a market here where students can come once a week and get 40 pounds of food.

We offer emergency grants of $1200 or less for certain unexpected expenses. We also know that another one of the big challenges has been mental health. We’re trying to make absolutely sure that we’ve got the mental health services available to students.

How can students feel supported after obtaining their degree?

They’re understanding us to be a place where we truly understand what their needs are. We are making it a point to ensure that we are providing them all the support that they need in order for them to remain persistent, connected, and engaged. We’ve got so many of our students that are concentrated in the area of business. We’re just so proud after looking at how many of those students go directly into really high paying jobs once they complete their degrees here.

We are really looking at it in terms of the whole self, social, and economic mobility index as well. We are within the top 10% nationally here at UHD in terms of the number of students who do become socioeconomically mobile after they get their degrees from us.

We know that their quality of life is going to be different. They’re going to be healthier. They’re more likely to be leaders in their communities. And most importantly, we know that when they have children, their children will also be more likely to take advantage of higher education. That is a total generation of peace. That really matters a lot.

Join our Newsletter

Sign up for Rolling Out news straight to your inbox.

Read more about:
Also read
Watch this video
What's new