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UH receives $5 million grant from Houston Endowment

Houston Endowment Inc. has awarded $5 million to the University of Houston, which it will use to help increase the number of doctoral students it graduates annually, a key element in UH's mission to become a Tier One institution. Graduate programs from four departments and programs within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences will receive a portion of the grant.

The grant money will strengthen doctoral programs in departments where additional funding will have the greatest impact on Ph.D. production and research. Those departments are chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, civil engineering, economics, psychology, creative writing, biology and biochemistry, chemistry, Earth and atmospheric science, pharmaceutics, health and human performance, and biomedical engineering.

"Houston Endowment is glad to provide this assistance to the University of Houston, as it strengthens its graduate programs to compete in a global context," said Houston Endowment President Larry R. Faulkner. "Outstanding education at the doctoral level benefits the Houston metropolitan area by providing expertise and new professionals in areas essential to the area's economy."

Houston Endowment, a philanthropic foundation established in 1937 by Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones, supports nonprofit organizations and educational institutions that improve life for the people of greater Houston. Since its inception, the foundation has donated more than $1.4 billion to help create a community where the opportunity to thrive is available to all.

UH will use the $5 million grant in the targeted departments to more effectively recruit, retain and graduate highly qualified doctoral students. Programs will be monitored and some additional departments may be added to the list of those receiving funds.

A university must meet a number of academic benchmarks to become a Tier One institution in Texas, including awarding 200 Ph.D. degrees annually. UH's current average is just under 200, and its goal is to expand its Ph.D. production rate to at least 300 degrees annually by 2020.

"Graduate students' success is a top priority for my administration because it is consistent with our goal of being a nationally competitive Tier One university," said UH President Renu Khator. "I want to thank the Houston Endowment for this generous grant, which shows strong community support for the university and its aspirations."

The Ph.D. initiative is a crucial part of a broad plan designed to address a number of issues at UH, including enrollment, retention, graduation rates, facilities upkeep and expansion and quality of life at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

UH is focused on becoming the next university in Texas to achieve Tier One status, a designation that would reap a number of benefits, including access to millions more in state funding. The additional funding would be used to improve student education, attract and retain more high-quality faculty members, leverage more federal research dollars, increase technology transfer to the private sector and attract new companies to the Houston area.

—Laura Tolley