President Renu Khator gave her second annual Fall Address in front of a packed Moores Opera House on Wednesday. She spoke with grace, delivering facts and figures on the University’s progress toward flagship status.
Khator focused on the positive steps the University has taken toward achieving flagship status, touching on everything from the six-year graduation rate to the success of the Fresh Food Company.
“It was clear that we were headed in the wrong direction, or headed in a very slow direction. We had to systematically and intentionally break this pattern (in graduation rates), and we did so by launching a nine-point student success plan,” Khator said. “In just one year, the results are spectacular. In 2010, we improved the graduation rate by 10 percent — 10 years of progress in just one year.”
A large part of the speech focused on the academic improvements UH has accomplished. Khator recognized four new National Academy professors during her presentation, and said that they were the first four National Academy members hired since 1984. She touched on the Bauer College of Business regaining the number one entrepreneurship program in the nation after falling to second place for two years.
Khator also gave an update on her promise to raise money for students in need of financial support.
“I, on your behalf, pledged to raise 100 million dollars towards undergrad scholarships and programs. You will be pleased to know that we have raised 63 million dollars toward that goal,” Khator said. “As a metropolitan public university, it is our mission to provide access to students, irrespective of their financial difficulty.”
She said there are currently 1,675 students supported by Cougar Promise, a program which grants scholarships to students who come from families making less than $45,000 a year.
The speech wasn’t completely focused on positives, though. Khator spoke about the multi-billion dollar deficit that Texas will soon face. Even though funding was slashed by 5 percent this year and last year, the legislature has warned UH to prepare for another 10 percent reduction.
“We hope to convince our lawmakers that the best of universities were built in the worst of times,” Khator said.
In addition to all of this, Khator spoke about the success of the athletic department. Football season ticket purchases have increased 82 percent just this year, and she fully expects the Cougars to make a strong showing the rest of the season.
“Our football team, even though going through a difficult patch right now, will rebound and fight back,” she said.
“I promise you that — they will show their national character.”