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Faculty and Staff Update

It has been 10 weeks since our city faced unprecedented amounts of rain, resulting in epic floods. During the days that followed, we experienced the worst of desperation and devastation, but we also saw the best of human spirit and volunteerism.

During my 2017 Fall Address, I had the opportunity to recognize our UH Hurricane Heroes. They included first responders, the emergency management team, the facilities team, dining hall and residential life teams, the communication team, faculty and student volunteers, and alumni donors. We realize that many of our faculty, staff and students continue to suffer because of displacement and personal losses, but we can take professional pride in our success of supporting each other and supporting our students. Our enrollment did not decline, which means that we succeeded in our highest mission. I thank you for all that you did in your respective roles during and after the floods to achieve this outcome.

The UH System Board of Regents met on Thursday, Nov. 16, at UH-Downtown and here are some UH-related items from the agenda that I would like to call to your attention. 

Faculty/Staff Merit Increase: The Board approved a 2 percent merit increase pool for faculty and staff. Last year was a banner year overall, from enrollment and graduation, to fundraising and athletics, and I believe that a raise is justified. We had reserved a contingency pool in our August budget presentation to the Board, and we will use that fund to offer merit raises. This increase will be in base salary and will begin in January. If you have any questions, please ask Provost Paula Myrick Short or Vice President Jim McShan.

College of Medicine: The 85th Legislature asked us to study the need for a college of medicine at the University of Houston that focuses on primary care, including mental health care, serving underserved communities in urban and rural Texas. The report, containing the need assessment and a plan to meet the need was presented to the Board at this meeting. The Board is allowing us to, one, proceed with the formal application process to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer a doctorate in medicine, and two, to accept our partnership with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Gulf Coast Division for residency programs in connection with a new degree program. Our proposal contains high-level details about the mission, vision, program and budget for the proposed college of medicine. In developing this proposal, Dr. Steve Spann, Provost Short and I have sought the help of an internal faculty advisory committee, as well as an external advisory committee. Another expert committee of 40 faculty and staff, formed in October, has provided invaluable feedback. I have also held five lunch discussions with faculty groups and incorporated their feedback into the proposal. 

The most common issues raised by the faculty related to financial feasibility, curriculum synergy and mission consistency. The University Communication Team has prepared a webpage containing the report presented to the Board of Regents and additional information. Needless to say, the success of our proposal will depend on political and financial support during the next 18 months. If you have any questions, please direct them to Dr. Spann or to Provost Short.

Transfer Admission Standards: The Board of Regents also approved a proposal to increase the minimum admission standard for transfer students to UH from 2.0 GPA to 2.25 GPA. This proposal has gone through two years of academic review process and is carefully designed to ensure a higher rate of student success. To learn more, please refer to the posted board material.

A Decade of Transformation: If you can spare four minutes, I invite you to watch this short video containing slides from my 2017 Fall Address. My motive behind this request is two-fold. One, you are our best ambassadors and the numbers in the slides will arm you with substantive yet succinct information to talk about the University when you are among friends and others in the community. Second, if we could achieve this much from where we were a decade ago, I want you to confidently consider how much more can we achieve in next 10 years, given how much stronger we are today.

Remember – We have Nov. 23 and 24 off. I wish you the very best for the holidays! 

With warm regards,
Renu Khator