Opinion Staff Editorial

Staff Editorial: In defense of Renu Khator, UH’s president and chancellor


President and Chancellor Renu Khator has always been supportive of UH, including the hiring of men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson. | File photo/The Cougar

President and Chancellor Renu Khator has two jobs.

Khator is both president of the UH-Main Campus and Chancellor of the entire University of Houston System, which includes seven campuses.

An article by Watchdog reported on Khator and her $1.2 million salary. At face value, we understand that this might seem excessive.

Naturally, she’s going to be paid more than an average college president — even more than the presidents of Harvard and Princeton University, as the article suggests.

The Cougar Editorial Board believes that Watchdog’s portrayal of the president is unjustified and insulting. Without her, this school wouldn’t be where it is today.

The article attempts to paint Khator as an overpaid, bourgeois fat cat, living a lavish lifestyle while UH students “struggle” under higher tuition rates.

Most students and alumni would agree that this school has evolved tremendously since she was hired.

Six years ago, no one wore red on Fridays, graduation rates were lower, barely anyone lived on campus and UH was certainly not labeled as a Tier One research university.

Now, school spirit is growing, graduation rates are rising every year, housing capacity is second only to Texas A&M University and UH earned Tier One status by the Carnegie Foundation in 2011.

In the same way that a football coach receives bonuses when their team reaches the playoffs or wins championships, Khator also receives bonuses for accomplishments. Except in this case, it’s like if she won multiple championships every year for six years.

Yes, tuition has increased over the years, but this is the case with almost every university in the United States. Plus, UH offers financial aid and the UH in 4 program allows students to have a fixed-tuition rate during their four years here.

Schools like the University of Texas and Texas A&M University have double, even triple the budget that UH has. In 2013 A&M had a budget of $3.8 billion compared to UH’s almost $1.4 billion budget for 2015. It’s the perfect “apples and oranges” comparison.

Renu Khator is building this school up to be one of the top universities in Texas. The debate should be over the amount that all university presidents are paid, not just hers.

-The Cougar Editorial Board


  • To be honest, this is not a very good defense of Dr. Khator.
    The second-to-last paragraph of this column really doesn’t make sense to me in the scheme of the argument… Why would you talk about how UH’s budget is a third of the likes of UT or A&M and then try to defend her having a higher payroll than either of the people in her respective role?

    All-in-all, there are better defenses of Dr. Khator in the comments section of that Watchdog article than what I’ve read here.

  • I am proud to be a UH graduate! I have seen the school move forward in a positive direction, particularly in the last few years. My son chose UH over the ‘other’ Texas schools because he wanted to go to ‘The U’. President Khator is a driving force for that change and I salute her. Go Coogs!

  • As UH Alumni, we are proud of the transformation that has happened on campus over the past few years, and much of it is the building of Renu Khator’s legacy as one of the best leaders UH has ever had in its storied history. Never been more proud to call ourselves Coogs!

  • This is a good defense of Khator’s job as president – she’s done great work in improving the school and raising its national profile (and believe me, I attended during the Gogue years of Cougar High).

    That said, she’s done a terrible job as chancellor. UHD is terrible and not much better than HCC, UHV is still trying to jump ship and get into the A&M system, and UHCL and UHSL just serve as satellite schools, not actual discrete campuses. It seems her strategy is to hope that by improving UH Central, the other campuses will magically improve as well, and that just isn’t happening.

    If she’s really only doing work as president and failing at her chancellor role, isn’t she overpaid? Maybe I’m missing something here and I’d love to hear about her systemwide accomplishments, but I’m not seeing any at all.

    • I live in Victoria, and received a Master’s degree at UHV, so I have a bit of interest in what’s going on. UHV is NOT trying to jump ship. A number of people who stand to benefit from moving the operations to land next to the airport want the change. That would mean abandoning all the buildings PLUS the three nearby hotels to start from scratch miles away, unless, of course, the backers of this plan intend to jack up all the property and haul it away. Near as I can tell, A&M isn’t buying, and neither should you.

  • UH tuition is higher than UT & A&M. Houston news stations talk about every school in Texas but UH, we are in the garbage AAC, and crime around campus is rampant to the point that parents don’t want to send their kids here. You can polish a turd but at the end of the day it’s still a turd. This is from a current UH student and many of us are struggling so don’t defend a $1.2 million dollar salary when I’m paying for every fee known to man.

    • UH tuitiontuition is definitely not higher then UT or A&M. The 2015-2016 fixed rate tuition for UT is between $5,047 and $5,799 per semester. A&M has a 2015-2016 fixed rate tuition ranging from $4,713 to $5,538. The UH four year fixed rate tuition is a universal $4,855. This means that if you are an undeclared major, you pay the $4,713 and save $132 per semester. The next lowest is the College of Liberal Arts with a fixed tuition of $4,803 and a savings of $47 a semester. If you are not in the colleges of Vet Medicine, Geo Sciences, Science, or Liberal Arts, you’re paying more. If you are, you’re saving at less then $50 a semester. Take into account that according to collegedata.com, the average merit based gift financial aid per year is $7352 compared to UT’s average of $5586 and A&M’s average of $3557. UH also has a higher average need based gift financial aid then UT and A&M with the averages at $10,074, $8,580, and $9,539 respectively. So it is clearly cheaper to attend UH. As for being in the “garbage aac,” until this year Rutgers University was a member of the AAC and is a fantastic University. In terms of crime, College Factual gives UH a B- for campus crime compared to UTs C+. In this one instance, A&M does beat UH with B instead of a B-, but that’s fairly understandable considering that UH is located in the 4th largest city in the country while A&M is in the fairly small college town of College Station. So overall, your arguement is unfounded and not Factual.

      • So its only a few hundred dollars cheaper to attend UH than UT or A&M. Big deal its still really expensive to attend UH compared to what you get at those other Texas universities. I believe the guy was talking about sports when he said the garbage AAC and in that area the conference sucks big time. There are no schools with good football teams in this conference. Crime is a given dude, you cant deny that UH has a crime problem. Yes other schools have crime problems also but I think he was stating that since UH is in the middle of 3rd ward crime is a bigger issue than most schools. Stop going to websites to get your facts and just talk to the people that attend the school.

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