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This page contains information about the current gallery exbition in the O'Kane Gallery located on the 3rd floor of the main building of the University of Houston - Downtown.

O'Kane Gallery - Current Exhibitions

UHD in Retrospect

An Exhibition Celebrating the first 40 years of the University of Houston-Downtown,
its origins as South Texas Junior College and campus evolution from the One Main Building

January 22 – February 5, 2015

This year marks the University of Houston-Downtown’s fortieth year of service and achievement. The resultant artifacts of that milestone are arranged on the walls of the O’Kane Gallery this month. The exhibition represents a celebration of the evolution of UHD as a school and a campus, and honors the individuals whose contributions give the institution distinction.

Included in the exhibition are photographs documenting the school’s origins in what was the Merchants and Manufacturer’s or M&M Building, constructed in 1929, to its current manifestation. On August 6, 1974, the University of Houston acquired South Texas Junior College, which had been operating in the M&M building since 1967. By the time UH acquired the college, it had 2,737 students and 120 faculty members. The school’s name became the University of Houston Downtown College, and was quickly reorganized as a four year institution. By 1983, the word “college” was dropped from the school’s name as an indication of its growing importance as an educational resource for the city of Houston. UHD became one of the three fastest growing institutions in the state.

To accommodate that growth, the university constructed a new academic building, housing state of the art classrooms equipped with multi-media stations with internet access. In the late 1990s, the State of Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board granted approval for UHD to offer graduate programs, including Masters degrees in Criminal Justice and in Urban Education. The Commerce Building was added to the UHD campus in 2004 to house these disciplines within the College of Public Service. The Shea Building was added in 2009 to house the College of Business which, in 2012, enrolled its first MBA candidates.

By the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, UHD’s student population was increasing along with the university’s reputation. The school could boast of enrollments approaching 12,000, with nearly 30,000 UHD graduates already working for businesses in Texas and elsewhere. The school has a reputation as a Hispanic-serving institution, and has been awarded the Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement classification. The Willow Street Pump Station was renovated to be a sight of community interaction with the institution. The school’s theatre and gallery have also been recognized for their contributions to the downtown arts district. Furthermore, the university houses several significant artworks that draw viewers, including a mural by the late John Biggers, sculpture by George Smith, and installations by Jacob Hashimoto and UHD professor Floyd Newsum.

The University of Houston-Downtown’s growing reputation as a noteworthy center for education and research is only possible because of the quality and perseverance of its faculty. Throughout the gallery are posted various achievements kindly submitted by faculty after an open call, to celebrate important or memorable career milestones. While the university itself is constructed of bricks and mortar, its foundation rests on the integrity, passion, ability and successes of the faculty, staff, and students who have ridden up and down her elevators, and walked in and amidst her walls.

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Last updated or reviewed on 1/23/15

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