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Monday, September 25, 2023


Group represents UH in Austin


The Student Government Association and other UH organizations visited Austin on Wednesday to discuss further research funding at Texas Universities. | Minh Dam/The Daily Cougar

AUSTIN — President and Chancellor Renu Khator created a sea of red in the Texas Capitol with the Board of Regents, UH Alumni Association members, Student Government Association representatives and UH System students Wednesday for Houston Day at the Capitol.

“I’m glad you’re here representing the University of Houston,” Khator said. “This will be a great opportunity for legislators to hear the voice of the students.”

As Cougar Advocates for Texas, the groups met with state representatives, senators and staff members to speak about supporting increased university-research funding.

“Currently our pharmacy program is split between two buildings,” said SGA President Cedric Bandoh. “On our campus, you can literally see the pharmacists walking across campus with their lab materials because the buildings there are just so old, and they don’t have enough space.”

The Board of Regents recently approved the addition of a health science center on campus will expand UH’s medical presence.

“So this building will allow them to come into one location,” Bandoh said. “And the dean of the school is saying that with this new building, we’ll be able to double the enrollment in our pharmacy program.”

Also on the agenda were tuition revenue bonds, conversion of fees to tuition legislation and Tier One research funding.

Khator and the UH System was recognized by Speaker of the House Joe Strauss.

This year’s visit to the Capitol during legislative session almost didn’t happen. After Khator requested an event to be organized, Chairman Nelda Luce Blair rescheduled the Board of Regents meeting to accommodate Houston Day.

“I think everyone, especially President Khator, we’re all committed to our home and our University of Houston,” said Vice President of Alumni Networks Tonja Jones. “Because this is where we work and where we love to come every day and so we feel that it is beneficial to go to Austin and advocate for the issues that matter to our home.”

For many students, this was their first time on the Cougar Advocates for Texas trip sponsored by the Board of Regents, UH Alumni Association, Office of Student Affairs and SGA. The level of interaction with state representatives surprised the newcomers.

“I took some business cards from legislators and their staff members, and I’ll be staying in contact with them,” said Enrique Martinez Jr., who decided during the trip to run for a position on SGA. “But I never really thought I’d be at that level of communication with them or how receptive they’d be to us.”

While boarding the charter buses back to Houston, many students and alumni were optimistic about the success of the day’s efforts.

“It didn’t matter who we spoke to, the actual representative or senator, their chief of staff or an aide,” said political science senior Jeff Syptak. ”The message we went in there with — we sold UH, we sold why we were there, we sold our story and we showed our pride — and that’s what made a difference.”

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