The University of Houston Magazine

UH Receives $5 Million from Houston Endowment

Grant Will Help Boost Number of Doctoral Students.

by Laura Tolley

Increasing the number of doctoral students who graduate annually from the University of Houston is a key element of the institution’s mission to become a Tier One university, and that effort received a big boost from Houston Endowment Inc.

Larry FaulknerHouston Endowment has awarded a $5 million grant to UH, which the university will use to more effectively recruit, retain and graduate highly qualified doctoral students in targeted programs.

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. To reach this status, a university must meet a number of academic benchmarks, including awarding 200 Ph.D. degrees annually. UH has averaged 200 doctorates for the past three years.

With a goal of producing at least 300 doctoral graduates annually by 2020, UH’s 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.

“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.

“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.”

Additional funding received by becoming a Tier One university 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.

Politics as Unusual: 82nd Texas Legislature Under Way

UHS Hopes to Maintain Momentum Despite Fiscal Challenges.

by Eric Gerber (’72, M.A. ’78)

The 82nd Texas Legislature convened in mid-January for what many political observers characterized as one of the most challenging sessions in the state’s history. Legislators are responding to a historic budget shortfall, which will impact funding for state entities such as the University of Houston System.

Capitol of TexasUH System leaders acknowledged the gravity of the situation, but are hopeful that legislative solutions will be reached that support the notable progress achieved by all four UHS universities.

“We recognize that our elected public officials will have to address the most significant fiscal challenge they have faced in terms of total dollars and percentage of the state budget,” said Grover Campbell, vice chancellor/ vice president for governmental relations with UH and the UH System. “Our UHS legislative agenda has been established within this context. By working together with the Legislature, we hope we can maintain the momentum achieved over the past several years.”

In particular, it will be requested that funding for state universities not be reduced disproportionately to that of other state agencies and services. Even though higher education represents 12.5 percent of all state spending, it accounted for 41 percent of stop-gap reductions already made to current appropriations.

The UHS agenda also urges the Legislature to:

  • Maintain adequate funding of the TEXAS grants and Work Study financial aid programs
  • Continue appropriations for research and Tier One support programs such as the Research Development Fund and the Texas Research Incentive Program
  • Develop a distribution plan for the National Research University Fund, an existing endowment for UH and other emerging research universities that meet established benchmarks
  • Consider Tuition Revenue Bonds for special UHS construction projects to address space deficits
  • Postpone changes to current state formula funding that would lead to a major redistribution of limited resources

Several hundred bills have been filed and many are pertinent to higher education in general and UHS specifically, ranging from the affordability of textbooks to carrying concealed weapons on campus. UHS will track relevant legislative developments throughout the 140-day regular session and post weekly updates on this site: http://www.uhsa.uh.edu/gov/state/82/

UH Adding Second Radio Station to Its Lineup

The University of Houston is ready to double the radio resources it offers the community.

In another clear signal of UH’s commitment to community outreach and cultural improvement, the UH System’s purchase of the broadcast tower, FM frequency and license used by Rice University station KTRU, is now one step away from final approval.

The $9.5 million acquisition, which is under review by the Federal Communications Commission, is being financed 100 percent by enhanced underwriting and private gifts that KUHF raises.

KUHF, the radio station owned and operated by UH since 1950, plans to broadcast 24-hour classical music and fine arts programming on 91.7 FM (KUHA Classical) and convert 88.7 FM to a 24-hour NPR news and information format (KUHF News).

In its current format, KUHF splits its programming between NPR News and classical music. KTRU will continue to provide free radio programming online at www.ktru.org.

“The acquisition of a second public radio station delivers on our promise to keep UH at the forefront of providing strong cultural, educational and artistic opportunities that benefit our students and our city,” said UH President Renu Khator

New NSM Dean Appointed

Mark A. Smith Plans to Take College to the Next Level.

Adam SmithOutlining plans for strong growth in medical– and energy–related sciences, Mark A. Smith started January as the new dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Smith, past chairman of the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Arizona, succeeds John L. Bear, who announced last year that he would be stepping down as dean after 18 years in the position. A renowned researcher, Smith brings to the position strong credentials as an administrator, experience at both public and private universities, an impressive record of recruiting top faculty and students, and experience in coping with budgetary challenges.

“UH has excellent faculty and students, and an enthusiastic staff who are really underappreciated nationally,” Smith said. “The numbers indicate an institution that is truly ready to step up to the next level among elite research universities.”

At Arizona, Smith had been in the department of chemistry and biochemistry administration for 16 years, the past eight as department head or chairman. Under his leadership, the department achieved a ranking in the top 15 research-funded departments nationally.