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Khator lauds increased investments, graduation rates in Fall Address

UH President and System Chancellor Renu Khator extolled the University’s successes and achievements over the past 10 years in her annual Fall Address. After the speech, Khator visited and took pictures with guests in the foyer of Moores Opera House. | Marissa Reilly/The Cougar

UH Chancellor and President Renu Khator gave her ninth annual Fall Address at the Moore’s Opera House on Wednesday morning, focusing on the University’s growth since she arrived on campus 10 years ago this week.

In her speech, Khator discussed rising graduation rates and $1.2 billion of investments into facilities.

“The numbers are good. They tell a story — the real story is true,” Khator said. “So let’s celebrate our past successes, let’s make even bigger and bolder dreams, but let’s never forget that plan and program do not make them come true — people do.”

In an interview with The Cougar, Khator said that she received the offer to become the UH president and system chancellor 10 years ago this week.

Khator’s first point of the University’s transformation was student success. She said the number of degrees granted went up 43 percent from 2008 to 2017, with more than 76 percent of freshmen taking 15 credit hours per semester, helping speed up their graduations.

“Our research shows that those recent additional graduates are adding $44 million just in their salary differential to the state’s economy each year,” Khator said. “And faster graduation means a more efficient use of taxpayer money going to higher education.”

An investment in facilities was needed to accomplish the University’s goals of growth and recognition, Khator said.

“To do what we wanted to do required space — good quality, functional space.” Khator said. “Therefore, we invested $1.2 billion in facilities during the last decade.”

That number, she said, is $1 billion more than the total investment spent in the previous decade.

With the increase in facilities spending, fundraising has increased greatly, Khator said. Annual fundraising has increased to $138 million, up from $50 million in 2007. She said the University’s “Here, We Go” campaign is still on track to pass its $1 billion fundraising goal before 2020.

The campaign has received $96 million in donations in the last few months, she said.

Khator said that in 10 years, the number of UH alumni has increased from roughly 148,000 to 255,000 — an increase of 58 percent.

Khator also gave updates on a medical school the University has been planning for several years. Lawmakers in the most recent legislative session requested that UH conduct a study evaluating the need for another medical school in Houston. Khator said the findings will most likely be presented at the Board of Regents meeting Nov. 16.

During a meeting with UH staff in April 2016, Khator said the planned medical school is scheduled to open in 2019 and will equip doctors to practice community medicine.

Alumna Johanna Thomas, who graduated in 1966 from the College of Education, said Khator has made tremendous changes over the past 10 years. Thomas said she donates to her former college today. 

“She has really brought the alumni together, which to me had not been done previously before she came to our university,” Thomas said. “As a part of that, I have come back to UH. I had not been that close to UH since I graduated almost 50 years ago.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the number of credit hours many students now take each semester. It is 15, not 30.

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