The University of Houston President and Chancellor Renu Khator was believed to be the candidate to fill the presidential vacancy at Purdue University, but publicly squashed the rumor this week.
Khator received her Master’s and doctoral degree in political science and business administration from Purdue. At the fourth annual UH Student Leadership Forum last week, Khator shot down any notion that she was returning to her alma mater.
“Purdue has been looking for a new president for (more than) a year,” Khator said at the Student Leadership Forum. “I turned them away 10 times and I will turn them away 11 times more.”
On Tuesday, it was reported by several news outlets that Purdue would announce Gov. Mitch Daniels as its next president on Thursday. Former UH Board of Regents chairman Welcome Wilson Sr. said that Purdue’s search firm contacted him initially for a recommendation for their vacancy.
“I was immediately worried sick,” Wilson said. “But she declined to even be interviewed. We’re making giant strides at UH and she has electrified the University of Houston.”
Khator became the third person to hold the dual title of president and chancellor of the University of Houston system in 2007, and since then has elevated the University to Tier One status according to the Carnegie Foundation and was also recognized by the Princeton Review for excellence in undergraduate education.
Khator’s decision to stay is an important one for the University, as it continues to shed an image as being a stepping-stone. Khator’s predecessor, Jay Gogue, left UH after four years to become the president at his alma mater, Auburn.
“In the past, possibly UH has been used a stepping-stone,” UH Board of Regents chairman Nelda Blair said. “When Renu came here she made clear she had goals for the University and the System. She saw it as a diamond in the rough and she was right, but she wants to make it a diamond star.
“I believe her blood runs Cougar red and I believe it’s going to stay that way.”