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Sunday, September 24, 2023

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Khator looks to University growth


At her inaugural speech on Friday, UH President and UH System Chancellor Renu Khator stressed the importance of UH becoming more nationally and globally competitive -†the cornerstone of a flagship institution.

"To dream anything less is to shortchange our students, our region and our state," said Khator, who was inaugurated as the University’s 13th president and the System’s eighth chancellor at Cullen Performance Hall.

Khator, who began her tenure in January, said the University should not lose sight of the success of its students.

"Our first priority is the success of students," she said, pledging to raise $100 million toward improving students’ educational experience. "We are first and foremost a place where learning is as natural as reading, where discovery is happening every day."

Khator also outlined her initiatives to guide the University to flagship status.

The energy initiative represents the pursuit of the highest level of energy research, including fossil fuels, fire fuels and solar power, utilizing UH faculty and staff.

"This initiative will bring together 70 of our finest faculty… to pursue the highest level of energy research," Khator said.

She announced the establishment of the Presidential Energy Advisory Board, which will steer the University’s multi-million dollar energy investment and the desire for the University of Houston to become the premier energy research University in the nation.

"Houston is the energy capital of the world," she said. "This initiative will facilitate relationships with industry partners who understand your needs."

The health initiative, Khator’s second program, stands on another of Houston’s strengths – health care. Khator said she plans to expand already existing partnerships with the Texas Medical Center, filling existing gaps as well as creating new joint ventures by utilizing the University’s many health related programs, including science and engineering, social sciences, pharmacy and optometry.

"Our strength lies in the integration of these disciplines," Khator said. "The health initiative will be headed by a member of the National Academy of Sciences."

The third initiative, the UH Arts Initiative, is a demonstration that UH desires to be a world class arts destination and a national innovator through employing and training thousands of artists.

"One of the greatest advantages of living in Houston, as I quickly learned, is the incredible depth of the arts," she said.

This plan will rely heavily on strengthening partnerships with local museums, performance venues, theaters and other arts organizations.

"These new initiatives complement our existing commitment to expand our centers of excellence," Khator said.

The fourth initiative, The Star Initiative, is intended to strengthen core programs of the University, including the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, The Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, the Graduate College of Social Work and the Creative Writing Program. Through investments, the University plans to build a stronger athletics program, more residence halls, a better stadium, more vibrant student life and more parking.

"This will take us all," Khator said. "It will take this entire community to take the University of Houston to greater heights. "

To make this vision a reality, Khator called on the community for involvement to achieve this transformation. She made it clear she was aware of how much work it would take, but said flagship status is what the University deserves.


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