Small university making big changes

By Lauren Freeman - Anchor

HOUSTON - It's a small university nestled off the Southwest Freeway, for now. Houston Baptist University's president is bringing football to the school for the first time and making other big changes. Dr. Robert Sloan gave KPRC Local 2 anchor Lauren Freeman a tour of the changing campus.

Dr Robert Sloan is a man on a mission. During his six years as president, he's put together a plan to put Houston Baptist University on the map. Sloan said, "That's something the city will notice. It will be a great spark for renewal in economic renewal and social renewal in Sharpstown and West Gulfton."

His philosophy for growing a university? Build on campus, increase enrollment and sports. If you drive along the Southwest Freeway near Fondren, you'll soon notice the building part. In less than 12 months, there will be an entrance from the feeder road to HBU connecting the school to their fitness center with a walking trail, Sloan says the it will be beautiful and landscaped.

HBU actually owns most of the land from the Bradshaw Fitness Center north to Fondren. He said, "It will be a public private partnership."

The plan is to tear down most of the current buildings there and expand HBU to right along the freeway. The buildings would still be retail on the bottom and HBU facilities on the top -- adding major visibility to the university since hundreds of thousands of cars go pass that point every day.

HBU currently has 2,500 students. Sloan hopes to double that in the next seven years. "Our long-term goal is to double the size and then double it again," he said.

As of 2013, HBU will begin playing football. Sloan has already hired a football coach and soon they'll start recruiting players.

"It will add more visibility. Football will add a huge impact. We will gain students from it. For every football player you bring, you bring an additional 2 students," Sloan said.

So what do students think? Corina Vladescu, a grad student said, "I really think that changes are for the better."

Carlos Garjales, also a student, said, "Houston and the rest of the nation needs to keep an eye out for this small, liberal arts college. We'll be on the map soon."

Houston Baptist University is currently considering a name change. Sloan said no decision has been made but he says the word Baptist means different things to different people and it's a word they can't control. So there's a chance with all these changes HBU could eventually see a name change too.

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