Chancellors of the University of Houston System and Presidents of the University of Houston
Except for a brief period in the 1970’s, the UH System has referred to its chief executive officer as Chancellor, and to the chief executive officer of each of its four universities as President. In 1997, Arthur K. Smith became the first to hold the newly created dual post of Chancellor of the UH System and President of the University of Houston.
Edison E. Oberholtzer
UH President 1927-1950
E.E. Oberholtzer was the university’s founding president, serving as both Superintendant of the Houston independent School district (HISD) and President of Houston Junior College (the precursor of the University of Houston) from 1927-1934. In April 1934, the HISD Board voted to expand the junior college to a four-year institution and Oberholtzer became the President of the newly formed University of Houston. When he retired in 1950, UH had 10 colleges serving 13,000 students.
Walter W. Kemmerer
UH President 1952-1953
Walter W. Kemmerer was the driving force behind the successful acquisition of the nation’s first license for a public television station, KUHT. He was also responsible for organizing the faculty into the traditional four ranks of instructor through full professor.
Andrew D. Bruce
UH President 1954-1956
General A. D. Bruce’s administration was responsible for increasing the number of faculty who held doctorates, upgrading student requirements, and creating the Downtown School, the precursor to today’s University of Houston – Downtown.
Clanton W. Williams
UH President 1956-1961
A military historian, Clanton Williams was close to the faculty and established a true collegial hierarchy and code of scholarly standards. He attracted bright young faculty by improving pay and benefits. Willimas imposed admission standards and urged faculty scholarship and research.
Philip G. Hoffman
UH President 1961-1977
UH System Chancellor 1977-1979
Philip Hoffman led the initiative to make UH a state university. When UH entered the state system in 1963, it was the state’s major urban doctoral degree-granting institution. Hoffman’s tenure was spent managing and directing tremendous growth and propelling UH’s status to that of major player on the national higher education scene. Hoffman and the Board of Regents began a decade-and-a-half expansion program culminating in the construction of more than 25 buildings. He was named UH president emeritus in 1979.
By 1974, Philip Hoffman has overseen the establishment of the University of Houston-Clear Lake, University of Houston-Downtown, and University of Houston-Victoria. After the System was officially established by the Legislature in 1977, Hoffman became its first Chancellor in 1928.
Barry A. Muniz
UH President 1977-1982
Barry Muniz’s administration is remembered particularly for establishing the Creative Writing Program, increasing funding to the School of Theatre, School of Music, and the Department of Art, and helping strengthen the links between the city and the university’s performing arts programs.
UH System Chancellor 1980-1986
Charles Bishop was named head of the UH System in 1980. During his tenure, intellectual life at the universities thrived with the creation of new centers, institutes, and laboratories; and increase in endowed chairs and professorships; and new construction.
Richard L. Van Horn
UH President 1983-1989
Richard Van Horn directed significant scholarship money towards attracting academically outstanding undergraduates to UH. Between 1982 and 1989, enrollment in the Honors Program (now the Honors College) increased ten-fold to more than 1,000 students. UH Became a magnet for National Merit Scholars, ranking among the top 25 institutions in the nation. Major strides in research were taken during Van Horn’s administration, including the establishment of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH (now the Texas Center for Superconductivity and Advanced Materials).
Wilbur L. Meier
UH System Chancellor 1986-1989
Wilbur Meier’s chancellorship brought the 1980’s to a close. Under his leadership, state approval was secured for the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston and the West Houston Institute (now the US System at Cinco Ranch) opened its doors.
Alexander F. Schilt
UH System Chancellor 1989-1995
Under Alex Schilt’s leadership of the UH System, the Creative Partnerships Campaign was initiates with a goal of $350 million. Upon the campaign’s completion in 1995 with $358 million raised, it was applauded as the largest fund-raising campaign in the history of Houston.
Marquerite Ross Barnett
UH President 1990-1992
Marquerite Ross Barnett, the first African American and first woman to become president of a major research university in Texas, was successful in increasing the university’s community outreach and service during a tenure cut short by her death. Under her leadership, the university received a $51.4 million gift from John and Rebecca Moores that supported scholarships, library operations, and construction of the UH Athletics/Alumni Center and the Moores School of Music.
James H. Pickering
UH President 1992-1995
James Pickering’s administration focused on student programs and was noted for creation of the Scholar’s Community and the Urban Experience Program. His term was marked by increased involvement in the neighborhood surrounding the UH campus, and the successful completion of the UH’s portion of the system wide Creative Partnerships Campaign.
Glenn A. Goerke
UH President 1995-1997
Glenn Goerke’s guidance as president of the University of Houston provided strong leadership for the merger of UH and the UH System administrations. He identified three themes for his administration – students/enrollment management, leadership and accountability. Goerke was instrumental in UH receiving a significant increase in higher Education Assistance Funds that made possible a 10-year construction and renovation program.
William P. Hobby
UH System Chancellor 1995-1997
Former Texas Lt. Governor Bill Hobby provided the transitional leadership that ultimately facilitated the merger of the UH System and the University of Houston administrations. He created a blue-ribbon Vision Commission to write a statement that would help lead the UH System into the twenty-first century. During his term, Hobby guided the establishment of the UH System at Fort Bend (now known as UH System at Sugarland), a multi-institution teaching center in the fastest-growing county in Texas.
Arthur K. Smith
UH System Chancellor and UH President 1997-2003
A U.S. Naval Academy graduate and Aviator, Arthur K. Smith earned a PH.D. in government from Cornell University. His appointment as Chancellor of the UH System capped a career in higher education that included the presidency of the University of Utah and high administrative posts at the University of South Carolina and the State University of New York at Binghamton. In April 1997, he became the first person to hold both the UH System chancellorship and the UH Presidency simultaneously. Smith oversaw the successful merger of the UH System and UH administrations, the launching of the “Learning. Leading.” Image campaign, the planning and construction of a number of major buildings at all four UH System Universities, and an impressive increase in student enrollment.
UH System Chancellor and UH President
Jay Gogue assumed the offices of chancellor of the University of Houston System and president of the University of Houston on September 2, 2003, becoming the system’s seventh chancellor and the university’s twelfth president, and the second person to hold the dual position. Upon his arrival at the University of Houston, he promised to “hit the ground listening.” His focus was to continue building upon UH’s legacies in academics, student life, athletics, and alumni involvement—expanding international partnerships, campus facilities, and community partnerships. During his tenure, he oversaw the development of the university’s twenty-year master plan to guide future growth.
UH System Chancellor and UH President
2008 - present
Visit the Office of the Chancellor and President Web site to learn more about Dr. Renu Khator’s successes and plans as Chancellor of the UH System and President of University of Houston.