Skip to main content

Faculty and Staff Update

Dear Faculty and Staff

September 01, 2015

Welcome back!

The year has started with a record enrollment - more than 42,000! - and very encouraging results in our efforts to improve the academic experience. Thanks to your focus on student success, a larger number of students have chosen us as their university of first choice, a higher percentage of students have progressed toward degree completion, and a greater number of freshmen have opted to enroll in UHin4, our signature program that guarantees graduation in four years at fixed-tuition rates.

The Cougar First Impression outreach program organized by the Staff Council and The Cat's Back organized by the Office of Student Affairs have been successful in making our students feel welcomed on campus. I personally visited 28 classes to share our expectation of hard work and commitment. I thank you all for creating a sense of energy and enthusiasm around campus so students feel supported and proud to be a part of the University of Houston.

Here are some important updates for you.

Search for SVC/SVP of Administration and Finance

The search for Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance has been launched. Dr. Richard Walker, vice chancellor and vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, is chairing this important endeavor with the help of the executive search firm Witt Kiefer. The committee includes Spencer D. Armour, III, UH System Board of Regents; Sabrina Hassumani, associate provost, Finance & Administration; Manos Papadakis, professor, Department of Mathematics, and Chair, Budget & Facilities Committee, Faculty Senate; Latha Ramchand, Dean and professor of Finance at the C. T. Bauer College of Business; and William Staples, president, University of Houston-Clear Lake.

The committee is now developing a detailed position description and will soon begin the process of identifying a strong pool of candidates. If you have any thoughts about the kind of candidates we should be looking at, please contact Dr. Walker or any other member of the committee.

Appointment of Planning Dean of Medical School

After several conversations with the faculty engaged in health-related research and teaching as well as consultation with our Deans and the Faculty Senate, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Stephen J. Spann as Special Assistant to the President and Planning Dean for Medical School for a one-year term beginning today, Sept. 1.

His appointment signals the next phase of exploration and planning to determine how the University of Houston can best serve the growing demand for community-based preventive and primary care. Dr. Spann will help us research and prepare an ambitious program that is academically desirable, financially feasible, and, most importantly, a program that complements the already strong offerings in the city of Houston. By the end of the year, we will be in a better position to understand and appreciate the synergies that we can bring to the table, and consequently, to carve out a future role for the University of Houston in the area of health. I thank the faculty and experts for their hard work and dedication in helping us launch this important journey.

Dr. Spann is a seasoned health care administrator and dedicated physician who brings a wealth of practical experience and vision to the University. He earned his doctor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine (1975). His distinguished academic career includes appointments at Bowman Gray (Wake Forest University) School of Medicine, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Baylor College of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine and UAE University College of Medicine and Health Sciences. In addition, his administrative positions include Senior Vice President and Dean of Clinical Affairs at Baylor College of Medicine from 2008 to 2010 and Chairman, Department of Family and Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine from 2010 to 2012. Since 2012, he served as Chief Medical Officer at Tawam Hospital, in the United Arab Emirates (employed by Johns Hopkins Medicine International). He has been published widely in a variety of academic and medical journals, and is the editor of a textbook on colorectal cancer. He has served on the board of directors of the International Center for Family Medicine and as a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians' Commission on Public Health and Scientific Affairs. He also serves on the Medical Executive Board of the Harris County Hospital District.

Dr. Spann will be invaluable in establishing the special facilities, innovative programs and vital partnerships needed for this ambitious undertaking. And he fully understands the importance of developing an interdisciplinary and integrated learning experience for our students.

Framing Our Future

I have been holding "conversation sessions" about UH's "Big Rocks" to help frame our future efforts. Some of you have participated in these sessions, and I sincerely appreciate your time. Additional sessions - three for the faculty, two for the staff, and one for alumni - are in the works. More information about the logistics will be going out soon, and I hope you will find time to join me for one of these upcoming sessions. This year's Fall Address is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 14 - please save the date! - and I will be sharing many of the insights generated by these sessions. However, you don't have to attend one of the sessions to help shape our future. Please feel free to send me an email if you have any thoughts or advice for me. It takes a village to move the needle and regardless of which department you in, you are a big part of our village and the University's needle cannot move without you.

Thank you for your time and attention. Please do not forget that your Cougar Football team under new Coach Tom Herman will kick off its first game Saturday, Sept. 5 at TDECU Stadium. Hope to see you there!

With warm regards,
Renu Khator