UST Opens New Micro-Campus in Conroe, Meet the Team
University of St. Thomas will expand its geographic reach with the opening of a micro-campus in the heart of downtown Conroe, TX, to support the educational needs of the residents of Montgomery County.
The storefront micro-campus – the UST MAX Center – is located at 336 N. Main Street on the corner of North Main and West Davis. The state-of-the-art facility is slated to open in September. A formal ribbon-cutting is planned for later in the fall.
“We named it UST MAX Center after Saint Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish Catholic priest who died for another at Auschwitz and is known for his innovative spirit,” Vice President of Marketing and University Relations, Jeff Olsen, said. “Kolbe, who built a successful print and radio broadcast business, is known for having used the latest technology to spread his message.”
Bolstering Conroe’s Workforce, Degrees Offered
“We are grateful to the City of Conroe for warmly welcoming UST into their community,” Dr. Richard Ludwick, UST President, said. “Last spring, at the behest of the city council and particularly Jody Czajkoski, we held a press conference and a meet and greet in Conroe to get to know the residents. At that time, we asked guests to tell us what educational degree programs would benefit them in Conroe.
“In addition, we have already joined the Chamber of Commerce and look forward to becoming active members of the business community,” Ludwick said. “We are also interested in learning from them. For instance, what degree and/or certificate programs might we offer that would help their employees and businesses thrive and grow?”
Initially, the University will offer a variety of online master’s degrees as well as online associate and certificate programs for those trying to 'MAXimize" their careers in Business, Education, Technology, Nursing and more. UST also has three online programs for people interested in theology and learning more about their faith.
Meet the Team in Conroe
Dr. Carla E. Alsandor
Leading the team in Conroe is Dr. Carla E. Alsandor, who serves as the interim director. Alsandor is also the senior director of Alumni Relations at University of St. Thomas. She lives in The Woodlands and is a parishioner at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. Before joining the team at UST, Alsandor helped the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia establish Frassati Catholic High School in Spring, TX.
“I see the creation of the UST MAX Center as serving a similar need in the north Houston region as Frassati Catholic but for those seeking higher education,” Alsandor said. “We are a resource for anyone interested in pursuing a degree or certificate from Houston’s Catholic university without having to commute to the main campus.”
Joining Alsandor is Conroe native and resident, Brenda Banegas, who lives five minutes from the new downtown micro-campus. Banegas is a parishioner at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
“I have been a parishioner at Sacred Heart in Conroe all of my life,” Banegas said. “I grew up being an altar server, then joined the Hispanic young adult group. I was a member of the choir for a few years and am currently a member of the Parish Pastoral Council.
Banegas serves as a recruitment counselor at the UST MAX Center, engaging with the community and creating more awareness about UST.
“UST is the only Catholic university in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and in a county that is growing so fast, it’s important for us as a university to be present,” Banegas said. “Being in Conroe will give us a chance to better serve the community in the north and create stronger relationships. It will also give us an opportunity to bring programs closer to home that are sometimes not accessible or convenient because of the commute.”
A Place for Conroe Alumni, Current and Prospective Students
“UST MAX will offer information sessions for the community,” Banegas said. “We plan to host lectures and in the future we will also offer some classes on site. Our Center will be a space for current students to come study, and a place where all will feel welcome.”
UST MAX Center is a place where alumni can gather in the future. “It is a beautiful space and we look forward to sharing it with them,” Alsandor said.
UST wants Montgomery County area alumni to know that exciting things are happening at their alma mater “For instance,” Alsandor said, “this fall’s incoming class is the largest in UST history and we have record numbers of transfer students as well – that is so exciting, considering the challenges we have all faced due to the pandemic.”
Banegas sums up UST’s sentiment about its innovative, new micro-campus.
“We want the community to know that we’re here to serve them,” she said. “UST is a diverse family that has something for everyone. We hope to see you at UST MAX, so stop by once we’re open, be sure to visit our website and follow us on social media @USTMAXcenter!”
The University of St. Thomas is Houston’s Catholic University. For more than 70 years, UST has graduated students into successful careers in medicine, education, business, public administration and more. As Houston grows, UST will continue to provide the strong leaders and skilled workers needed to meet those demands.