The event, attended by an estimated 1,500 members of the university community and a host of international, federal, state and local dignitaries, marked her entrance onto the academic stage of national and global leadership as the UH System’s eighth chancellor and UH’s 13th president.
“I’m impressed by her intellect, contagious enthusiasm, creativity and, yes, by her dogged determination to take this university and make it a Tier-One university,” Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said. He added that as the state’s population doubles over the next 20 years, “We will need a third Tier-One university. As a Houstonian, I think this (university) would be a great choice.”
Also attending the ceremony was Houston Mayor Bill White, who said, “The University of Houston is the most important singular institution in the city. I commit to you to help you (Khator) lift the university even higher. The 2.2 million people in Houston stand behind you and the University of Houston.”
Khator, who began her tenure in January, outlined a bold new vision for the University of Houston, declaring its first priority to be student success.
“We pledge that, as a system of higher education, we will provide access to students from all backgrounds, living in any part of the region and the state, and having any level of educational aspirations,” she said. “We pledge that their educational experience will be top-tier, and their training will be globally competitive.”
Khator dedicated the investiture “to our students and their dreams, and (we) pledge to raise $100 million toward the goal of student success.” Illustrating the university’s resolve on this issue, as well as the generosity of its donors, alumni and friends, Khator announced that $1 million toward this goal already has been raised through a single scholarship event – unprecedented in the history of the university.
She also announced four strategic initiatives aimed at the pursuit of excellence and the attainment of top-tier status for the university:
- The UH Energy Initiative will bring together 70 of the university’s top faculty from eight colleges, 14 centers and institutes, and multiple disciplines to pursue the highest and the broadest level of energy research, including fossil fuels, biofuels, wind and solar. Khator also announced the establishment of the Presidential Energy Advisory Board. “In partnership with our faculty-led Energy Alliance, the board will guide the University of Houston’s multi-million dollar investment in the field of energy and our desire to become the premier energy university of the nation,” she said.
- The UH Health Initiative will expand the university’s presence and its partnerships with Texas Medical Center institutions, filling gaps that currently exist and advancing strengths already in place. “I am pleased to announce we are launching the UH Health Initiative with the recruitment, in the next few weeks, of a mega cluster headed by a member of the National Academy of Sciences,” Khator said.
- The UH Arts Initiative will position the University of Houston as a world-class arts destination and as a national innovator in commissioning new work, employing and training thousands of artists and sponsoring world-class arts series. “We pledge to expand and strengthen our partnerships with area theaters, museums, performance venues and arts organizations,” Khator said. “Alongside, our faculty will strive for excellence in the liberal arts by pursuing a chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa.”
- The Star Initiative will complement the university’s existing commitment to strengthen its centers of excellence, which Khator called “our star programs” – nationally ranked programs that include entrepreneurship, health law, optometry, hotel and restaurant management, social work, psychology, chemical engineering, music, management and creative writing. “Under the fourth initiative, we plan to make our stars shine even brighter,” she said.
The twin goals of student success and global competiveness, Khator said, would provide Houston and Texas with a better and more skilled workforce, an empowered community, better-prepared corporate and community leaders, a strong and stable economy, a competitively educated state population and true global reach and impact.
She also pledged a renewed emphasis beyond the classroom, including building a stronger athletics program, more residence halls, a better stadium, a more vibrant student life and more parking on campus.
“How will this bold vision become a reality? It will take this entire community to build a great university,” Khator said. “Your commitment and passion have the power to transform the University of Houston and make it a nationally and globally competitive university. To dream anything less is to shortchange our students, our region and our state.”
Khator is the first Indian-born president to take the helm of a major research institution, the University of Houston’s second female president, and the third person to hold the dual title of UH System chancellor and UH president.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 36,000 students.