Wilson ends run as chairman of Board of Regents
At the beginning of Welcome Wilson Sr.’s term as chair of the UH System Board of Regents, the position of system chancellor and UH president was vacant.
His first task was to find the person who would fill the position.
“My first objective was to hire a world-class president, which we got. It was an extremely important endeavor because I felt like we needed just the right person,” Wilson said.
“The search committee came in with three people the first month that I was chairman. We interviewed them, and I was so lucky to have the opportunity to hire Dr. Renu Khator. She has just been absolutely outstanding and she has been a game changer for the University of Houston.”
In the last three years, Wilson has put most of his emphasis on clearing a pathway to Tier One status for UH.
“I’ve always felt that (UH) was on the runway to greatness, but still needed to change its upward slope from a 15-degree angle to a 45-degree angle,” Wilson said.
Upon taking the position, the faculty senate asked Wilson to state his three priorities as chairman of the board. His three priorities in early 2007 were “Tier One status for UH, Tier One tatus for UH, and Tier One status for UH,” he said.
Wilson, who was replaced by Carroll Robertson Ray as chair of the Board of Regents for fiscal year 2011, spent the spring of 2009 in Austin with the state legislature, where he was instrumental in getting two major pieces of legislation passed.
The first billl matches research money spent by universities, and the second would transfer a dormant fund of $500,000 to a statewide Tier One fund.
“The fund would take its income and divide it among any of seven universities in Texas that were aspiring to Tier One status,” Wilson said. “Those seven universities are named in the constitutional amendment, and (UH) is head of the list. (UH) is first in that group in terms of being the farthest ahead for reaching the criteria for tapping into the fund,” he said. University officials anticipate reaching tier one status within the next five to seven years.
“When we started, they said it was going to take 20 years, so five to seven years is optimistic,” Wilson said.
The toughest standard for becoming a tier one university is having $150 million in research expenditures.
Wilson said that this year, although it has not been announced, UH is going to reach almost $100 million. Three years ago, UH research expenditures totaled about $60 million.
In a UH news release, Wilson reflected on accomplishing his lifelong goal of serving as chair of the board.
“In 1947, I was a senior at UH. I met H.R. Cullen…He was a very impressive man. That night, I decided that was what I wanted to be later in life.
“I didn’t want to be mayor. I didn’t want to be governor. I didn’t want to be president. I wanted to be chairman of the Board of Regents. 60 years later, I was honored by this board, and it’s been a wonderful opportunity.”
Wilson will serve as a regent for another year until his term expires on August 31, 2011.