It’s been more than two years since regents at UH-Downtown first proposed changing the school’s name to something that didn’t include “UH” in it. An attempt to get a bill through the Lege in 2009 failed, in part to there not being an accepted alternative. Earlier this year, a consulting firm proposed a couple of possible new names, “City University” and “Houston City University”, but nobody liked them. With another legislative session about to begin, it’s looking like nothing will change again.
State Sen. Mario Gallegos, who graduated from UH-Downtown and represents the campus, said he will sponsor a bill if his colleagues in the Legislature think it’s a good idea.
“If they say no, then no,” said Gallegos, a Houston Democrat who said he has heard mixed opinions from other alumni. “There’s no use in filing a bill if my colleagues aren’t going to be for it.”
Garnet Coleman and Jessica Farrar, Democrats who represent the campus in the House, say they have yet to be sold on the idea.
“I haven’t been convinced that taking the name University of Houston off is advantageous to the University of Houston-Downtown,” Coleman said. “The rationale that has been given for a name change just doesn’t compute, in my book.”
Farrar said she understands the reasons the university is seeking the change.
“But my concern was to make sure it’s what the university community wanted to do,” she said. “I don’t think it would be successful without that support.”
UH-Downtown President William Flores and Carroll Ray, chairwoman of the UH board of regents, insisted the issue isn’t dead.
“We’re trying to develop a next step,” said Flores, who inherited the idea when he was hired last year.
It may not be dead, but it sure sounds moribund. I think it’s pretty clear that in the absence of a true consensus for one specific alternative, UH-Downtown will continue to be UH-Downtown. Which is fine by me – I kind of liked “Houston Metropolitan University”, but there’s nothing really wrong with “UH-Downtown”. There’s an old saying in baseball that sometimes the best trade is the one you don’t make. Perhaps that applies here as well.