March 4, 2008
Monty was appointed by President George W. Bush to the boards of directors for North American Development Bank and the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission. Monty also serves on the board of Hispanic Alliance for Progress and is the general counsel to the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans. Monty is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington and received a law degree from the UH Law Center.
Q What is your opinion of the state of higher education in America today? What’s working, what’s not?
A The United States is not producing enough engineers, scientists, nurses or information technology professionals. Our challenge is to replenish the baby boomers who will retire in the next 10 years and ensure that our economy has the professionals that it needs to continue flourishing.
Q For the uninformed, how would you describe what it is a UH System Regent does?
A A regent is a member of the governing body or board of directors of the UH System. We are volunteers who are appointed to help our president and chancellor lead the university.
Q What led you to pursue a legal career, and why did you choose the UH Law Center?
A I chose the University of Houston Law Center because of its international focus and because I was fortunate enough to receive a $500 merit scholarship. Five hundred dollars doesn’t seem like a lot of money now, but, in 1991, it was a big draw. Additionally, I wanted an opportunity to work during law school and UH offered that, whereas other law schools in Texas didn’t.
Q What’s your favorite place (or two) on campus?
A My favorite place on campus is the Hilton Hotel. I love having breakfast there. I would eat breakfast at the Barron’s Restaurant and, sometimes, I go there today.
Q Do you know the words to the UH “Fight Song”?
A No. I don’t know the words to the UH fight song, but will know it by heart come this year’s football season.
Q You serve on the board of directors of the North American Development Bank and the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission. What role, if any, should UH have in environmental issues?
A UH should have a big role in environmental issues. As the energy capital of the world, UH needs to continue leading in the areas of alternative fuels and ways to reduce carbon emissions. It’s only fitting that Houston’s premier university should lead in these areas that concern Houston’s number one industry.
Q Little known fact—former regent Michael Cemo played drums in a popular rock band in the 1960s. Is there anything that surprising in your background?
A I finished my undergraduate in 19 months from start to finish. I participated in the College-Level Examination Program, which enabled me to complete 30 hours of course work, including a year of Spanish. I was not working at the time and was taking 21 hours every regular semester and taking 18 to 20 hours during both summer sessions. Working while going to school is a bigger challenge, but I believe that we need to do a better job of ensuring our students graduate in four years.
Q If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about UH (or the UH System) tomorrow, what would it be?
A I would like to see more capital improvements at UH. This is our flagship university, and we need to have more opportunities for students to live, eat, learn and stay on campus. I believe we will start seeing more of these opportunities develop in the future.
Q What’s the biggest misperception the public has about UH?
A Many times people might forget that the UH System comprises six public institutions of higher learning—UH, UH-Clear Lake, UH-Downtown, UH-Victoria and two teaching centers—UH System at Sugar Land and UH System at Cinco Ranch. Also, we have several activities happening at the Texas Medical Center.
Q Your term lasts six years. What would you like to have accomplished by then?
A I would like to have served honorably and helped my fellow regents and Dr. (Renu) Khator make the University of Houston a top-tier school and the number one metropolitan university in the United States.