President Renu Khator delivered her annual fall address Wednesday morning, touching on the university’s multiple accomplishments and a bold vision for its future.
“We are daring to set our sights on becoming one of the nation’s top 50 public universities,” Khator said. She expressed the importance of the Board of Reagants in achieving this goal and called each member out by name for recognition.
Despite this lofty goal, Khator was quick to note her continued desire to focus on impacting the area around the University.
“While we are a global university that attracts students from over 170 countries, our strength is local,” Khator said. “We can take pride in saying that we are the primary engine in Houston’s workforce.”
Khator rattled off various recent accomplishments, noting that the University was third in the state for research spending, first for technology, and the third most searched university in Texas by prospective students and parents.
“The University of Houston is about opportunity and transformation,” Khator said. “And I am now proud to see that we are truly becoming the university of first choice.”
Khator stated that tuition at the University had gone up less than the rate of inflation in the last year, student debt at graduation had decreased to lower than the national average, and financial aid had increased to a high of $2.3 million given out in the past year.
While she was pleased with these achievements, Khator added that there was still more to be done. She expressed a desire to focus on lower-income students, specifically on closing the graduation gap between black students and white students.
Khator then expressed appreciation for the University’s increased efforts to establish on the merit of its academic accomplishments.
“UH students are winning more Fulbright awards than on average and are doing wonderful work around the world,” she said. “Three of our researchers are among the world’s most cited names.”
She then recognized the efforts of exceptional professors working in breast cancer research, climate change and petroleum engineering.
After the applause died, Khator spoke about several new building projects, including the Tillman J. Fertitta College of Medicine, the John M. O’Quinn Law Building and several new initiatives aimed at impacting the Third Ward area.
“The University of Houston was founded to embrace and uplift the community,” Khator said. “And we take that responsibility very seriously.”
Khator brought the address to a close by setting out some notable goals. She hopes to lobby the state legislature for the university to receive the Permanent University Fund, double research output and build a new football operations center.
Finally, the university will be constructing the Centennial Plaza in the heart of campus, with the goal of completing this green space by 2027.
Khator then brought the event to a close with a few words of encouragement for UH students and faculty.
“We as educators are needed today more than ever before,” she said. “I urge you to keep your passion alive and remain ever committed. We’re not stopping, we’re moving forward. Our best days are yet to come. Thank you, and go Coogs.”