Letters to the Houston Community

Why Tier One Status Is Important

January 21, 2009

By now, I am sure that you are very much aware of our commitment to make the University of Houston a Tier One institution.  The Board of Regents members, my top administrators and I have been taking every opportunity in media interviews, public appearances, governmental hearings, collegial discussions and personal conversations to declare our dedication to achieving that status. 

But there are two points that we haven’t talked about nearly enough, perhaps.  One is why Tier One status is important not just for our university but for all of us. And, two, the vital role that influential supporters like you will play in making this happen. 

As flattering as a Tier One designation will be for this university, this is not our impetus for pursuing that goal.  The creation of additional top-tier universities is one of the most important challenges facing Texas today. If Texas is to thrive in the global economy, more top-tier universities must be developed to spur economic growth, sustain an educated workforce, support innovative research and maintain our state’s reputation as a progressive and flourishing place to live and work.  We firmly believe that our state must have more Tier One institutions – and we believe that our university is the logical choice to become the next one. 

Obviously, this would be a tremendous benefit not only to our school but also to the overall economic and intellectual climate of our Gulf Coast region. It is no accident that the Research Triangle grew around Duke University, that Silicon Valley was developed between two top-tier California universities or that the Boston area top-tier universities turned university-based resources into lucrative businesses and desirable jobs. 

How does achieving Tier One status happen?

This is a multi-faceted undertaking that requires, among other things, increasing our research funding levels, further developing the quantity and quality of our Ph.D. programs, enhancing our endowment, and expanding alumni participation. That requires efforts on a number of fronts simultaneously.  So, I’m hopeful that each of our prominent supporters like you will continue to encourage and assist these efforts going forward. 

Some of this support is being carried out at an institutional level.  We were pleased, for example, that the Greater Houston Partnership included the University’s of Houston’s Tier One status as an item on its legislative agenda. With the Texas Legislature now under way, we are continuing our efforts in that key arena. However, support for Tier One status has to be based on community-wide consensus. Without extensive public recognition and backing on this issue, our progress toward Tier One status will be exceedingly difficult. 

I would not be writing to you unless I was confident that you are in a position to help this university establish and maintain that crucial level of public support.  As Tier One becomes a topic of increasing importance discussed in the coffee shops, board rooms, athletic arenas and arts venues that make up our diverse community, I want you to continue speaking up as our advocate and ally. There are three things to remember:  1) Texas must have more Tier One schools 2) UH is the logical choice to be the next one and 3) UH becoming Tier One benefits the entire community. 

Won’t you please add your voice to the growing chorus of support?  

P.S.  If you would like to see a list of compelling reasons why UH should be Texas’ next Tier One institution  and other information about this issue, please go to http://www.uh.edu/top-tier.

Renu  Khator