UH needs to sort out its priorities

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Some criticized the building of the new basketball facility for its misplaced prioritization. | Kevin Portillo/The Cougar

It is becoming clear that UH prioritizes funds in a questionable manner.

After a costly $120 million football field and $25 million upgrades to the basketball development facility, the talk of an enhanced baseball field only leaves me to believe that money management falls in the hands of a teenage boy.

When paint is chipping off the walls in the Roy G. Cullen building and desks are still used from the 1980s and a fountain project still on hiatus, UH is telling its students that sports-related programs are more pressing.

It is commendable to want to boost morale and gain national attention for our talented teams, but at what cost are we giving up necessities for commodities?

Is an upscale sports culture really that important to the everyday commuting student? Do we really need a lounge at a baseball field?

“You can tell that the Cullen building is older, the paint on the walls, and the ceilings are deteriorating,” English senior Anna Dodds said. “It looks like a prison.”

This is the typical learning environment for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences students who primarily meet in the Cullen building.

Students can be seen struggling to cram tablets and paper on the ancient desks that are provided.

In light of UH expenses, we must remember that hefty salary that fits perfectly into our chancellor’s Louis Vuitton purse, amounts to more than $700,000 annually.

It’s quite a reality check when a chancellor of a university makes more than the president of the United States.

UH provides its chancellor with more than enough to live comfortably and it’s time to distribute some of that to the educators.

“I think the money used for the baseball field could go towards the CLASS department, they overuse the graduate student teachers who barely get salaries enough to live, why not pay them better?”  an English senior Mariesha Keys said.

Enhancements in older buildings are the need UH is not considering, the buildings are the heart of a good institution and a reflection of our dedication to equalize the learning field.

Teachers are also the necessities, and they are not properly funded. They are the driving force to delivering us to our dreams and the people on the front line waiting patiently to be paid as such.

UH needs to halt the “innovation” of a sports culture and return to a basic understanding for the purpose of college: create and maintain an environment where education is praised over play.

CORRECTION: The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences was originally misnamed. 

Opinion columnist Phylicia Sneed is an English senior and may be reached at [email protected]


  • While I agree teacher salary and classroom facilities could always use improvement, the truth of the matter is that Athletics is often the public face of Universities — especially Football (especially in the South). For the sake of being transparent – I fully support all of the work being done for all our athletic upgrades.

    Ms. Sneed fails to mention all the new construction / upgrades that include new student housing, new business buildings, new Science labs and buildings, the new Engineering building, the new University Center … the list goes on.

    Taking a shot at Dr. Khator was weak. Her salary is deserved because she is doing two jobs – and she’s doing great. She’s turned the University around in so many ways. Comparing her to how much the President makes is illogical.
    … or perhaps Ms. Sneed also abhors all celebrities, singers, professional athletes, actors etc that also makes more than the POTUS.

    • Cal Tech does not have a football team and yet they are considered a preeminent college. MIT has the Engineers but who honestly has ever heard of them? Point being you don’t need a top notch sports program to attract students to a college. What you do need are top notch teachers and programs in other areas.

      How many college athletes go on to be professional compared to those in other majors? I would wager the numbers are not even close. So why then are the athletics getting such a disproportional amount? Spending money on student housing when they can’t even get a 50% occupancy because this is a transient college and because the rent is so way out of step with the rest of Houston.

      I think it is fair to question Dr. Khator decisions priorities in how money is spent and curriculum choices such as moving an entire major (digital media) out to the Sugar Land campus when it should be in the main campus. When the University of Houston system is in debt of $174,755,051 (more now as that is 2013 total). When parking is abysmal and cannot support an increase of students these buildings are supposed to attract and simple classroom furnishings and maintenance are out of date and in disrepair it is more than fair to question and demand answers.

      As for the boosters’ part that is wonderful, obviously they can afford it, the students can’t. We are already under crushing debt and it will be worse for many when they graduate.

      • 1. The athletics facilities in question were entirely funded by donors. The stadium was funded by donors and students who VOTED overwhelmingly to fund the stadium.
        2. The resident halls are full! 1/2 of freshmen live on campus and more students live at UH than any other Texas university including UT. This isn’t a transient campus, it’s a residential campus

  • Before chastising the athletic spending, do some research on how much of the funds were donated by boosters.

    • And how much by students – we approved a pretty hefty jump in student fees for the stadium and for Hofheinz, only to be told that the budget overran and they needed more. And left out water fountains in the stadium. I think it’s only fair to question how our money is spent!

  • I don’t understand complaining when you don’t know any of the facts. The funds for the projects you mentioned have been raised privately and have not taken a penny from academics. Part of the funds for the stadium and arena were overwhelmingly approved by the students and overcharges are pretty much a common occurrence for any major project. BTY the students were not charged any more fore those either. This students wants to talk about a few desk that have yet to be replaced ignoring the fact that the entire campus from academic building, extra parking to housing to entertainment options, to eateries has been completely overhauled in the last 5 – 10 years and still has more to come.
    Now back to athletics, you want to complain because you don’t like it but there is not a better promotional tool for UH then to have our/YOUR football team playing in a big January bowl game or for basketball to be playing in the NCAA tournament and for us to hopefully upgrade conferences in the next two years will be a game changer when it comes research dollars and notoriety.
    Of all the things you may have to worry about in your life this is not one of them.

    • Millions of people could end up benefiting from the potential results of that experiment. Advances in everyday things such as plastics and polymers, nanoparticle technology that prevents clothing stains by coagulating liquids so that they run off the shirt (FYI a UH professor has nearly completed this invention so yeah…), advances in non-invasive brain surgeries. Yeah… Those “dorky science experiments” could change the world. Sure they won’t put butts in the seats at TDECU but butts in the seat at TDECU won’t change the world.

      • But those butts in the seats make money which helps fund those science experiments you want…Not only through ticket sales, but advertising, eyeballs on tv screens and tshirt sales…so buy a clue.

        • True, listen I’m not bashing athletics at all, I love them and two very respectable student government leaders who were involved in the thread of comments to this article could certify that. However, I really think we should keep our eyes on what the university is. The University of Houston, not the Football club of Houston. I just don’t want it to get out of hand and I worry there’s a chance that it could.

  • The Baseball clubhouse and development center as well as the new Daktronics video board at Cougar Field are, to my knowledge, entirely funded by private donors, not university or student funds.

  • I can tell you that the only connection I have with UH is through the athletic programs. This connection convinced me to open my wallet and start making an annual donation to my former college on campus.

  • Research UH during the 90s when the exact philosophy the author supports was the norm. And then let’s do the right thing and pretend this article was never written.

  • This makes no sense… all money used for facilities (except for the stadium) have been fully funded by donors. The only fault athletics has is doing too well with fundraising. Before complaining, at least do some research on the subject matter.

  • This article is serious garbage. The improvements to the University, student housing, academic and athletics facilities have ALL seen great improvement since I graduated in 2006. Dr. Khator earns every bit of her salary, and continues to drive improvements to the University of Houston and its brand. She can buy whatever effing kind of purse she wants with her money, dont be such an idiot.

  • Quite possibly the most misinformed opinion piece from the Cougar in a decade. You wrote this without doing any research where the funds for those athletic facilities are coming from… There was never the choice between building an academic building or an athletics facility! The money came from donors who asked to specifically donate for those purposes. Misconstruing the facts so egregiously to rile up students is a cheap shot at UH.

    If you want to make the argument that alumni should consider donating to academic buildings in lieu of athletic facilities, be my guest. But they have a right to write a check for whatever they want and if they want to write a $4m check to build a baseball club suite, that’s their prerogative.

  • Sounds lile a lot of haters commenting on this. Im a CLASS student and I know improvements need to be made to these buildings but I moat agree with the point on professor compensation. You’re going to have all these sports fields empty if our teachers don’t get the living salary they deserve while Czar Khator makes a million dollars, FOR WHAT?!

  • This article reads more to a Facebook Rant compared to one that would display actual facts. Shame on you TDC. Shame on you.

    These facilities are paid for primarily by private donors looking to increase the brand/quality of life for our Athletics program. We are pushing for a Power 5 conference which oh by the way will make YOUR UH DEGREE worth between 17% and 22% more.

  • Because having an awesome math or debate team is not going to do anything for the university but having an awesome athletic program will bring in alumni involvement and prestige to the university and in return to your English degree.

  • There has been a lot of talk about all the money to pay for these buildings and programs coming exclusively from donations (with the exception of the student fee increase for the football stadium). But from what was reported in the Texas Tribune which states “From 2008 to 2014, the school transferred $106 million to athletics, according to financial reports reviewed by the Tribune.”

    These are not just from fundraising but by institutional transfers. “Khator declined to discuss the institutional transfers. But in response to questions, the school provided three years worth of numbers of its own. Those indicated that the school considers total university support to include institutional transfers and student athletic fees. Both contribute to students’ cost of attendance.”

    According to Texas Public Information Act , “Houston reported to the NCAA that its athletics collected $144 million in student fees and institutional transfers from 2008 to 2014.” All this when there is an investigation going “. . . into whether it illegally used $5 million reserved for academic purposes to help pay for the football stadium.” All the while a 2015 audit reported that spending on equipment, uniforms and supplies came in 88% over budget and travel expenses were over 54%.

    Considering as I said in my first comment that the University of Houston system is in debt of $174,755,051 (more now as that is 2013 total), I think it is more than fair we question and demand answers to the numbers. I have nothing against athletics, I just but when we subsided them from 2008 to 2014, to the tune of $106.23 million while the University of Texas and Texas A$M only subsided $14.60 million and 14.77 million respectively, I want to know how much of these institutional transfers were from actual donations
    and how much from monies that were not.

    Article Link: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/09/03/quest-top-tier-u-houston-spends-big-athletics/

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