Faculty stress alumni ties

UH should continue striving to become a flagship research university, officials said at Wednesday’s Faculty Senate meeting.

Faculty also examined campus security.

Of the approximately 16 criteria necessary to become a flagship institution, UH meets eight and is on its way to the others, UH President Renu Khator said.

"How soon can we get there? I don’t know," said Welcome Wilson, chairman of the UH System Board of Regents. "But by God, we ought to be thinking in terms of it being in the next few years."

Alumni involvement, such as donations and the number of members in the alumni organization, is one of the criteria UH has to improve, Wilson said.

"We graduate 12,000 students every single year, and yet the entire enrollment in the alumni organization is 15,000," he said. "We ought to be able to do better than that. We have to double it in order to achieve ‘Tier 1’ status."

Another criteria UH must improve on is the amount of federal research dollars it receives, which is currently $50 million, Wilson said. To achieve flagship status, faculty members should help raise the number to $100 million, he said.

"The first thing we have to do is to ask for more," he said. "We need more proposals (to the board for research projects) from the faculty. We need to think big. Don’t think in terms of half a million dollars, think in terms of $5 million."

Faculty members were also encouraged to meet with state representatives and senators and convince them to support UH and get research funded.

On the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, where 32 people where killed by a student, faculty expressed concerns over campus security and how to identify and properly approach a student they suspect might be dangerous.

"The University is as safe as any other place in Houston," Khator said. "We have 72 police and security officers, and 85 percent of all the buildings have a P.A. system (for emergency announcements)."

There are also 426 surveillance cameras and an alert system that sends emergency text messages to students, faculty and staff, Khator said.

"One of the issues in terms of Virginia Tech is there were signs the individual (who did the shooting) had problems," education Sen. Jerome Freiberg said. "As a faculty, I’m not particularly well prepared to determine what steps I should take as a preventative measure."

Another measure the University will use to increase federal funding is to renovate the science research and classroom laboratories in the Fleming Building, the Old Science Building and Science ‘ Research 1, Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Foss said.

In addition to the renovation, there are plans to make additions to the Fleming Building.

Funding will come from the $57.6 million in tuition revenue bonds that were granted to the University during the Texas Legislature’s last session, Foss said.

These bonds must be used to either remodel or construct campus buildings.

The University’s Quality Enhancement Plan was also presented, which aims to enhance the quality of learning through an increase in undergraduate research, said Veronique Tran, director of QEP undergraduate research.

The QEP is part of the reaccredidation process by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which had representatives on campus last week to interview students.

"What we are trying to do is develop a signature program that will attract high-achieving students," Tran said.

The plan will also attempt to improve the student graduation rate, the retention rate and involve students in collaborative research and mentoring with professors.

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