Students differ on paths to flagship

Reaching flagship status seems to be on everyone’s mind at UH. President Renu Khator made it her priority when she took office in Jan. 2008.’

While the administration, faculty and students agree on the need to strive for flagship status, they disagree about the steps necessary to get there.’

The administration took on various large projects in an effort to push the University into being a top competitor among the seven universities vying for flagship status.’

Included in those projects are the construction of new residential housing, an increase in research grants, and improvements to the Athletic Department.’

Many students agree that UH becoming a flagship university would be great for the state and would increase the value of their degrees.

‘It will certainly add to the reputation and renown of our university if it joins UT and A&M in (flagship),’ mathematics graduate student Rebecca Chen said.

Faculty members also agree that attaining flagship would be great for the University.

‘UH is a great place to be, and there is absolutely no better time to be here than now,’ communications associate professor Martha Haun said. ‘The faculty is more excited about the prospects of the future than I have ever seen them in my 40 years on this campus.’

While the value of flagship status is clear, students said the administration should focus its energy on improving the structures on campus and recruiting top members of academia, not just on housing and the Athletic Department.

‘ ‘I want UH to achieve flagship status and compete with schools like UT and A&M, not only on the football field, but also on the academic field,’ biology senior Jessica Gouvion said. ‘That way, students will think more highly of UH.’

Biochemistry junior Zakari Kwota said he would like to see the University focusing more on raising general teaching standards, especially in science disciplines.

‘I think teaching standards matter the most,’ Kwota said. ‘It is the responsibility of the administration that it recruits committed teachers. It ultimately depends on the quality of teaching inside classrooms that (will) determine what I’m able to take home with me.’

Gouvion said she wants to see the University focus more on fixing the current lab facilities than building housing on campus.

‘We are a commuter school. People can live pretty much anywhere in this big city and still make it to campus,’ Gouvion said. ‘Teaching facilities need to be updated and most labs are just terrible. If only more money could be spent by academic departments on hiring good faculty and improving existing facilities, then all this would surely rub off on students.’

Haun, who also serves on the Faculty Senate Budget Committee, said that some academic departments have already taken the initiative to renovate their facilities.

‘The upcoming expansion and improvements of the Valenti School of Communication is a good example,’ Haun said. ‘ State-of-the-art classrooms and media studios are fundamental to learning and the proper training of our students.’

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