University of Houston-Downtown

By: Diana J. Kleiner

Type: General Entry

Published: April 15, 2002

Updated: March 24, 2021

The University of Houston–Downtown is an open-admissions undergraduate university serving greater Houston and its downtown business community, particularly career-entry students, those interested in preprofessional education, and those who have undergraduate goals not limited to specific disciplines. The university began in 1942 as a downtown business school tied to the business community. Housed in the Merchants and Manufacturers Building at One Main Plaza near Allen's Landing, which is listed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places, the university was founded in 1974 after receiving the assets of South Texas Junior College. The Continuing Education Center and Conrad N. Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management were also dedicated that year. The university was approved as a separate four-year unit of the University of Houston System in 1975. In the early 1990s the institution was divided into four colleges: University College; Humanities and Social Sciences; Business; and Math, Science, and Technology (now Sciences and Technology). The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. In 1991 enrollment was 8,092, with 363 faculty members. The student population was 38 percent White, 24 percent Hispanic, 23 percent Black, 12 percent Asian, and 3 percent international and other. The school's W. I. Dykes Library had a collection of more than 190,000 books and periodicals. In the late 1990s the university opened a Science Learning Center and began offering undergraduate courses at the University Center at Montgomery College in the Woodlands. In addition, the state legislature and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board gave permission for the university to begin adding graduate programs; the first was the M.S. in criminal justice, which the university began offering in 2000. In the fall of that year enrollment was 8,951, the vast majority of which were undergraduates, with a faculty of 471. Max Castillo became president in 1992.

Garna L. Christian, 40,000 Window Panes: The Story of the Merchants and Manufacturers Building (University of Houston–Downtown, 1986). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Education
  • Public Four-Year Colleges and Universities
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Diana J. Kleiner, “University of Houston-Downtown,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

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April 15, 2002
March 24, 2021

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