Profile

Renu Khator
Chancellor, University of Houston System
President, University of Houston

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 an organization that serves nearly 70,000 students, has an annual budget that exceeds $1.5 billion, and produces a $3.8 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 40,000-plus students, offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs and awards more than 8,000 degrees each year.  

During her tenure, UH has experienced record-breaking research funding, enrollment and private support. As part of a $1-billion campus construction program, UH launched its 75-acre Energy Research Park, which is now home to several start-up companies, research enterprises and academic programs, continued work on a new 40,000-seat football stadium and increased student residence hall capacity to 8,000, the second highest in Texas.  In addition, UH has recently unveiled an $80 million transformation of its University Center and opened its new, 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.  

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 was recently given the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award by 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. 

Joining some of the world’s most respected leaders, she was named to the Indian Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council. She also serves on several boards, including vice chair of the American Council on Education, deputy chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, 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 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.