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Khator celebrates UH graduation rate topping 60 percent

This year UH received a $50 million anonymous donation that will go to hiring “distinguished” faculty and supporting four new institutions | Trevor Nolley, The Cougar

This year UH received a $50 million anonymous donation that will go to hiring “distinguished” faculty and supporting four new institutions | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

President Renu Khator on Wednesday at her annual fall address highlighted the University’s six-year graduation topping 60 percent for the first time.

“Since our story is about momentum, we are now moving the target to 70 percent,” Khator said, “which will take us in the top quartile of public universities.”

The annual speech by Khator spotlights the achievements by the University, with stories and figures showing how much UH has grown and also future initiatives. Khator focused on a theme of momentum: achievements that happen because of hard work and innovation, not by accident or coincidence.

She recognized and told the stories of many students and faculty bringing innovation to UH, such as mechanical engineering senior, and HCC transfer, Monica Martinez.

Martinez found calcium sulfide in a sample of lunar dust collected during Apollo 17, the last human mission to the moon in December 1972.

Khator said that she is thankful for transfer students’ decision to attend the University and for all of their accomplishments, such as Martinez’s.

“Monica Martinez is proof that amazing things can happen if you just stay focused on your dream,” Khator said.

There are now 8,300 beds in University housing with an additional 2,700 in private, near-campus housing, Khator said. The President said these students have higher success, attention and GPA rates. This year 5,682 freshman enrolled in what Khator called the largest class to date.

For achievements in diversity, Khator recognized that faculty diversity since 2008 has gone up. UH has added 100 African-Americans, 182 for Asian-Americans and 103 for Hispanic-Americans faculty members.

“Diversity makes us all stronger and better,” Khator said.

Among academic advancements, Khator celebrated the rise of student athlete cumulative GPAs, which she said has risen from an average of 2.69 in 2008 to 2.94 in 2019. The President said that the University hopes to break the 3.0 average soon.

The crowd cheered when a little robot that looked like a cooler on wheels rolled onto the stage. It was a new food delivery robot that will be soon be able to bring ordered food on campus.

Khator opened its lid and pulled out a container as the robot said, “Thank you and go Coogs.”

A a record-breaking anonymous donation of $50 million, called the Aspire fund, has allowed for UH to implement of a variety of new “interdisciplinary studies, faculty, STEM initiatives and top talent” at four new institutions, Khator said.

“If this isn’t a vote of confidence for the momentum and the direction of the University than I don’t know what is,” Khator said.

Khator said that the Houston is a powerhouse of many industries, and provides many opportunities for innovation and startups. UH supports $6.4 billion of the greater Houston region’s income and 61,751 jobs.

“Houston will not only need a larger workforce, but a workforce that is hungry for innovation and that is not afraid of trying, failing and trying again,” Khator said.

UH plans to follow through with three initiatives in the upcoming future: a strategic planning process, budget transparency initiative and a centennial master plan.

“There will always be those with resistance creators,” Khator said. “There will always be those who say no, but always remember your yes has to be bigger than their no.”

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