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Letters to the University Community Pride Excellence Message

April 23, 2008

Today completes my first 100 days at the University of Houston. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for making me feel welcome and offering me your support and advice. By now, we have received more than 11,000 suggestions which are very insightful and in many cases, quite substantive. Currently, there is tremendous community and university-wide support for taking our university to Tier One status, enhancing student success, improving our public image, and strengthening our athletics programs.

What is next? We are now in the process of scheduling meetings with key individuals and groups to discuss the many suggestions and “big rock” ideas that we have uncovered from your comments. With the help of various stakeholders, we will chart a course of action over the summer that will take us to our desired designation. Your continued support and engagement in this process will be the deciding factor if we are to be successful in our path to become a Tier One Research Institution.

Please allow me to update you on some important happenings at the University of Houston.

Successful Accreditation: The University of Houston crossed two significant milestones this month: (1) we received an outstanding preliminary report from the SACS accreditation team and (2) we received reaccreditation from the NCAA. Together, these accomplishments reflect the quality of our university and extent of your hard work. My compliments and thanks to all of you! The SACS accreditation team mentioned that our Quality Enhancement Plan is one of the best that they have seen anywhere in the nation. You should feel very proud that through the QEP, UH is transforming the undergraduate educational experience to bring it in line with the experience at other Tier One institutions.

National Recognitions: I am also proud to note the outstanding achievements of our faculty, students, and alumni. Here are a few that have crossed my desk that should make us all say “wow!”

Tony Hoagland: A poetry teacher in our Creative Writing Program, Tony was recently selected as the second winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize, an award for writers of great talent.

Adrees Latif: A 1999 graduate with a degree in journalism, Adrees claimed this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for his stunning shot of a victim of a Burma riot.

Vassiliy Lubchenko: An assistant professor of chemistry, Vassiliy has been named as one of only 16 recipients of this year’s Beckman Young Investigator Award, which includes a $300,000 grant.

Arman Jahangiri: A biology major in our Honors College, Arman was just named as a Merage American Dream Fellow for 2008 – one of only a dozen such students honored nationwide.

Crystle Stewart: Combining brains and beauty, Crystle, a former College of Technology student, won the coveted Miss USA 2008 crown earlier this month.

Moores School of Music students place first in prestigious competitions: Jessica Wei Zhu won first prize in the Collegiate Young Artist Piano Competition and Ashlyn Rust won first prize in the Vocal Division and the Grand Prize in the 24th Annual Young Texas Artist Music Competition Concert of Finalists. In addition, the Halcyon Saxophone Quartet, under the direction of Karen Wylie, won first place in the Winds Division at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition.

National Rankings: Quality is not measured by quantitative rankings; nonetheless, they reflect an important dimension of our university. UH has seven undergraduate and graduate programs ranked among the top 100 in the nation, including a #2 ranking for our Entrepreneurship Program, #36 ranked master’s program in Social Work and a #55 ranked Law Center.

Over my first 100 days, I have had the opportunity to visit eleven colleges and also to spend some time walking around various departments. I am truly impressed with the quality of our faculty, dedication of our staff, caliber of our students, and success of our alumni. I feel very fortunate to be a member of your team.

Let’s keep showing our Cougar pride and Cougar smiles!

Warm regards,