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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

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Khator looks toward flagship status


Partnerships and student success are the main themes the University needs to focus on to achieve flagship status, UH President Renu Khator told the Faculty Senate on Wednesday.

"It is going to take an entire community to help the University," she said. "It takes partners, and that’s what we need here."

In her first address to Faculty Senate, Khator said she visited Austin and Washington D.C. to meet with legislators and community leaders to gather attention and support for UH for becoming a Texas flagship university, alongside the University of Texas and Texas A’M.

Khator said faculty should do its part to help retain students by providing them with guidance and helping them stay on course with degree requirements.

"Are we providing them the best environment?" she said. "There is no reason if a student comes to an institution, the institution is not doing everything possible to help students succeed."

Fred Schiff, a senator from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, said one of the reasons student retention has been a challenge is because working students have difficulty continuing their education.

Khator said students arriving should be academically prepared and that assistance, such as loans or scholarships, should be available to them.

"We have to see how we can best help them," she said.

Khator said the University should not solely rely on student enrollment to receive state funding, but that ties with alumni, community and private enterprises are other means of gaining funding and support needed for UH to become a flagship university.

"People don’t invest in whining, they invest in winning," Khator said.

Vice President of Research Donald Birx said faculty should group together by clusters to further research initiatives. Birx said faculty, regardless of research interests, should get together to help each other try to gather funds or resources from outside sources, such as private donors, companies or state funding.

"It allows us to bring together resources to tell a story," he said. "It’s a leveraging mechanism to get that together."

Faculty Senate President Wynne Chin said he has met with different University groups this spring, including the UH chapter of Students Against Sweatshops, the UH System Board of Regents, Staff Council and the recently elected officers of the Student Government Association.

"We can get a lot of things accomplished if we work together," Chin said.

Chin also said the senate will work toward having a "faculty club," similar to one that existed in the 1970s before it burned down. Rather than making it exclusively for faculty, Chin said the proposed area would be an area for faculty, staff, students and community members to congregate and set up for talks or informal instructional gatherings.

"We want to show what a great place it is for the general community," he said.

Birx also said about 20 applicants are being considered for the position of vice president of Administration and Finance. Jim McShan is the current interim vice president, following John Rudley’s departure to become president of Texas Southern University. The committee is expected to conclude its search by mid-April, Birx said.

Birx also said the Science and Engineering Research Classroom Complex first floor is expected to be partially complete by fall. Originally built as an initiative to attract outside research in 2003, the SERCC building’s fourth and fifth floors will be completed in early 2009, he said.


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