Skip to main content

Renu Khator

Chancellor, University of Houston System

President, University of Houston

Renu Khator

Renu Khator holds the dual titles of chancellor of the University of Houston System and president of the University of Houston. The UH System’s first woman Chancellor and the first Indian immigrant to head a comprehensive research university in the United States, she assumed her post in January 2008.

As chancellor of the UH System, Khator oversees a four-university organization that serves nearly 70,000 students, has an annual budget that exceeds $1.7 billion, and produces a $6 billion-plus economic impact on the Greater Houston area each year. The UH System includes the University of Houston, UH-Clear Lake, UH-Downtown, UH-Victoria and with branch campuses and teaching centers in Katy, Northwest Houston, Pearland and Sugar Land as well as KUHT, the nation’s first educational television station, and two radio stations – KUHF, Houston's National Public Radio affiliate, and the classical station KUHA.

As president of the University of Houston, she is the chief executive officer of the largest and oldest of the four UH System universities. As the system’s flagship institution, UH enrolls approximately 44,000 students, offers 280 undergraduate and graduate programs and awards more than 9,200 degrees each year.

During her tenure, UH has experienced record-breaking research funding, enrollment and private support. As part of an ongoing $1-billion campus construction program, UH launched its 74-acre Energy Research Park, which is now home to several start-up companies, research enterprises and academic programs, opened its new 40,000-seat TDECU Stadium, home of the nationally ranked Cougar football team, and increased student residence hall capacity to 8,000, the second highest in Texas. In addition, UH has completed an $80 million expansion and renovation of its Student Center and opened a six-story Health and Biomedical Sciences Building.

In 2011, UH earned Tier One status, with the Carnegie Foundation elevating it to the top category of research universities. Princeton Review has recognized UH for excellence in undergraduate education and named it a “Best Value” university for three consecutive years. The Chronicle for Higher Education cited UH as an exceptional workplace. UH consistently places among the foremost universities included in the Top American Research Universities (TARU) rankings. In 2015, UH was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, one of fewer than 300 schools to earn that designation from the prestigious national honor society.

Khator was born in Uttar Pradesh, India, earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Kanpur. She received her master’s degree in political science and Ph.D. in political science and public administration from Purdue University. A noted scholar in the field of global environmental policy, she has published numerous books and articles on the subject. Prior to her appointment, she was provost and senior vice president at the University of South Florida, capping a 22-year career at that institution.

Khator received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from the president of India, the highest recognition conferred on overseas Indians based on their "significant contributions" to their homeland. In addition, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services included her among its Outstanding Americans by Choice awardees, recognizing her achievements as a naturalized citizen. Purdue University awarded her its Doctor of Social Sciences degree, honoris causa. She is featured in the American Council on Education's video "The Joys of the Presidency." In 2014, she received the President’s Award from NASPA, the national association of student affairs administrators. Khator has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Swansea University.

In 2016, she was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, and she has received the Excellence in Leadership Award from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the President of the Year Award from ACIU, the Association of College Unions International.

She is the immediate past Chair of the American Council on Education (ACE) and has been reappointed as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. She also serves on several boards, including the Greater Houston Partnership, the Houston Technology Center, the Texas Medical Center Policy Council, the Methodist Hospital Research Institute Board and the Business & Higher Education Forum. She has been appointed to serve as the American Athletic Conference representative to the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Khator’s husband, Dr. Suresh Khator, is associate dean of the UH Cullen College of Engineering. The Khators have two daughters, both of whom are ophthalmologists, and two grandchildren.