Investiture of Renu Khator - Overview of Events


Investiture is defined as the "formal ceremony of conferring the authority and symbols of high office." It is held during the new president's first year in office, or at the conclusion of the first year. It is an ancient academic ceremony which has symbolized the pursuit of knowledge since the Middle Ages. Today, universities view investitures as an opportunity to welcome a new era and celebrate as a community.

Dr. Renu Khator's investiture ceremony, rescheduled because of Hurricane Ike, was held in conjunction with UH Homecoming. The Investiture Ceremony, Scholarship Reception and Thomas Friedman Lecture event were highlights among a series of homecoming events taking place during the first weeks of November. Homecoming at any academic institution is a time for reflection. For the University of Houston, however, it was also a time to focus on the future. "Old Traditions, New Beginnings" was the theme for Homecoming 2008 at UH. While alums and students united in celebrating the university's history, they also welcomed a relatively new Cougar, UH President and UH System Chancellor Renu Khator.

The Investiture Ceremony was held in the Cullen Performance Hall at 2 p.m., Friday, November 7 in the Cullen Performance Hall. Numerous distinguished guests were in attendance, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, U.S. Rep. Gene Green and Houston Mayor Bill White. UH staff and students also attended the investiture, and many members of the faculty participate in the academic procession. This was a colorful and historically significant event for the University of Houston and for all who participated. During the ceremony, President Khator made a speech that outlined the achievements she is planning for the University during her tenure.

A Scholarship Reception at the UH Campus Recreation and Wellness Center immediately followed the Investiture Ceremony. Supporters and well-wishers from the UH community and many special guests celebrated President and Chancellor Renu Khator, and past and future successes of the University of Houston and the University of Houston System together. Donors who gave funds in honor of the Investiture - with the purpose of supporting student scholarships - were honored guests at the reception.

The Farfel Distinguished Lecture Series and The Elizabeth D. Rockwell Ethics & Leadership Lecture Series event, featuring New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, was scheduled at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 17 in the Cullen Performance Hall. Friedman discussed his latest book, "Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - And How it Can Renew America."


During the Investiture of Renu Khator, as with the ceremonies of past UH System Chancellors and UH Presidents, certain symbols of her respobsibilities to the University were conferred to her by the UH System Board of Regents.


Throughout history, seals have been used to authenticate official documents. The University of Houston's and UH System's seals bear the Official Seal of Arms of General Sam Houston, as handed down to him from noble ancestors. It includes the escutcheon in the center of the seal--consisting of checkered chevrons denoting nobility and three martlets, gentle lowland birds that symbolize peace and deliverance. A winged hourglass is above the shield. Surmounting this is the motto "In Tempore" (In time). The greyhounds indicate speed in giving aid. The UH seal was adopted in 1938 in conjunction with the establishment of the present campus. The first official version was etched into the floor of the Roy G. Cullen Building.


The mace, which is carried in academic processions, is a staff symbolizing the university's authority and unity. The tradition of the academic mace began in the late fourteenth century when two ancient instruments, the royal scepter and the battle mace, were combined to form a university president's symbol of authority.


The presidential medallion, or medal, is worn on ceremonial occasions. Currently, a medal is being designed and crafted specifically for President Khator.


The costume of the participants in the academic procession dates back to the fourteenth century. Academic institutions in the United States adopted a code of academic dress in 1895.

The bachelor's gown has long, pointed sleeves; the master's gown has oblong sleeves open at the wrists (some older gowns may be open near the upper arm); the doctoral gown is fuller than the others with full-length velvet panels on the front and three velvet crossbars on each sleeve in black or the color distinctive to the discipline of the wearer's degree.

The hood drapes over the shoulders and down the back. It indicates the subject to which the degree pertains and the university that conferred the degree. The size of the hood indicates the level of the degree, with the doctorate having the largest hood.

The black mortarboard is the most common cap used. A velvet tam also may be worn by faculty members with doctoral degrees. The tassel, fastened to the center of the cap, normally is worn in the left front quadrant of the cap after the degree has been awarded.

The tassel may be black or the color appropriate to the subject of the degree. The doctoral cap's tassel may be of gold thread.