Khator gains international recognition

UH is now home to the Association of College Unions International 2013 president of the year. President Renu Khator accepted the prestigious title at the Community Builders Awards Ceremony in St. Louis.

Students and faculty accompanied president Renu Khator to St. Louis during Spring Break where she received the President of the Year award. | Courtesy of

Students and faculty accompanied president Renu Khator to St. Louis during Spring Break where she received the President of the Year award. | Courtesy of

The award was created last year to recognize university presidents who advance the college union idea: to complement the academic experience through an extensive variety of cultural, educational, social and recreational programs.

“This award is more precious to me than any other,” Khator said, “because this one is for being the most student-friendly president.”

Involvement, promotion and support for the college union and student activities were the criteria considered for each nominee, with emphasis on going above and beyond typical duties.

“In my 20 years of involvement with ACUI and the College Unions (University Centers) and the Student Activities profession, I have not seen or heard of a president that has impacted a campus like President Khator has in her five years at UH,” said Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Kowalka, who personally coordinated the nomination of Khator for the prestigious title.

Adorned in her usual Cougar red, Khator was approached by several people after her acceptance speech to express their surprise that she attends so many student events and meetings.

“That’s the most rewarding part of my job, for sure,” she said. “I get my inspiration and motivation from the success of our students, and it’s a good day when I get to spend time with them.”

During the first weeks of class, she visits as many freshmen and introductory classes as possible, introducing herself to more than 9,000 students annually, Kowalka said.

Since Khator’s appointment, UH has experienced record-breaking research funding, enrollment and private donations.

During her interview process, she told UH System Board of Regents members that she believed it would take five to seven years for UH to become a Carnegie Foundation-recognized Tier One campus. She did it in four.

“Achieving Tier One status is just the icing on the cake in terms of the many accomplishments we have achieved during her tenure,” Student Government Association President Cedric Bandoh said in his recommendation letter.

The most recent launches were the 75-acre Energy Research Park and the new Health and Biomedical Sciences Building, which will include the Health Science Center. Construction on the new University Center has also been underway since last semester.

“Both staff and students have been invigorated by the presence of Dr. Khator,” Kowalka said. “Students remark time and time again how excited they are to have a leader who embodies principles of access, transparency and student success.”

“She is constantly improving the campus environment, and the effect she has had on campus morale has been almost as profound as the effect she has had on the growth and national stature of her university.”

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