Khator’s speech inspires improvement

Hendrick Rosemond/The Daily Cougar

Hendrick Rosemond/The Daily Cougar

While the presidential hopefuls confronted each other in a hilariously incompetent debate Wednesday, our fellow Cougars packed into the Moores Opera House to listen to a different kind of speech.

UH President Renu Khator gave her fourth annual fall address to students and faculty. There was an inspirational quote from industrialist Henry Ford and acknowledgements to several contributors, board members and other high-ranking officials that have helped make our climb to the top successful. And of course, they presented graphs, charts and statistics laying out the path to success in more tangible, calculable ways. Khator lauded our sports victories and academic accomplishments as a sign of things to come.

The speech started with the University’s vision, but as the speech neared the end, Khator began to deviate from tradition in true UH fashion. She recognized something  few other universities in the country would — a need for us to change, or rather, continue to change.

Change by itself is a frightening concept for most universities, pretentious with their theories of tradition. Certain private universities pride themselves in their exclusivity or how steeped in culture their campus is. Others rally behind a historically powerful athletics program that steamroll the competition on Saturday nights.

These universities have every right to fear change, because they are already established superpowers in our nation’s academic realm. When a college shows up on TV or in the movies, it’s never UH.

It’s always wide-eyed freshman trying to find their way around hundreds of acres of campus. It’s always some fraternity party gone wild. It’s always the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, or Harvard and Yale.

UH has everything they have, but what those colleges don’t have is the capacity to change, which Khator sees in this campus and its student body, faculty and alumni. By recently breaking into the center stage, we have the advantage and disadvantage of changing the playbook. Emulation can only take us so far, and it will only bring us to what a keystone university should look like.

UH has jumped out of obscurity into being ranked 184 out of the top 200 best colleges in the nation by U.S. News & World Report within a year. Construction projects have started and finished in that same year. Change and innovation are our obvious fortes and Khator says it’s our time to seize the moment and lead again.

Our continued success and growth cannot be won by Khator alone. UH has the luxury of not being ruled by a council of the same few families for generations.

It is the job of our fellow students to give our campus its culture. That means wearing red on Fridays, not because we’re asked, but because we hail red and white.

That means students attending UH sports games, not because they’re free, but because we want to see our teams lay it all out on the field and win. Do your part as a Cougar and contribute to the great campus during its transition.

James Wang is a history sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].

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