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New Leadership at Two Houston Universities Means Different Challenges

New presidents have been chosen at two universities within walking distance from each other. In the first of a two-part series, Houston Public Radio’s Pat Hernandez profiles the new leaders, beginning with the University of Houston.


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University of Houston’s board of regents unanimously appointed Renu Khator president and system chancellor. She left a legacy as provost of the Tampa-Bay area University of South Florida where she expanded the school’s funded research. Her first order of business here was to seek input from the community and asked for her charge. That’s what lead to the one hundred days campaign.

 “I have some big rock ideas that are in those submissions and included in them are making the University of Houston a nationally competitive, top tier, public research university that’s a flagship university of the state of Texas. Also, it’s important to bring the students to the university, it’s equally important to make sure they have all the support and environment necessary to be successful, and then have the skills to be successful in their lives.”

Over the next five years, Dr. Khator hopes to accomplish two goals: to turn the main campus into a nationally competitive public research university and for the system to focus on the student’s success, which means having a top tier research environment.

“We should do whatever necessary to make sure that University of Texas and Texas A&M continue to carry the state’s flag. It helps raise all boats but at the same time, I believe very strongly that the state of Texas needs another flagship university and I strongly believe that the city of Houston which is the fourth largest city and the energy capital of the world absolutely needs a top-tier, public research university. Otherwise, I think the dreams for the city of Houston would get limited at some point in time.”

Dr Khator is passionate about the cause of metropolitan universities and the mission they serve. She says the University of Houston has all the assets beginning with location.

“It has a top quality, first class faculty here. We have students who are coming with very high credentials. So many National Merit scholars are here. We have a community that understands the value of diversity. I think if you can think of any asset, any raw ingredient that a university needs in order to go to its next level of excellence, University of Houston has it.”

Reaction to the arrival of the new president and chancellor from students is encouraging.

“I think it’s a great deal. It’s a new change and I think she’s gonna try to move the University into a new direction, which will be exciting for eveybody. She’s a wonderful woman. I was thinking if she can do something about tuition, it keeps increasing which is not a good thing. I think she’s extraordinary, she gives off a very powereful aura.”

Dr Khator says she’s very fortunate to be a part of  what she calls this wonderful journey that lies ahead of us.

Tomorrow, the vision of John Rudley, the new president of Texas Southern UIniversity.

Pat Hernandez, Houston Public Radio News

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