resident Khator, Cabinet Discuss Tier-One Goal at Forum

March 11, 2008

On her 51st day as University of Houston president, Renu Khator said UH must “move the needle” forward as it embarks on a quest to gain Tier-One status.

That was the message Khator delivered to more than 200 audience members at the Staff Council 2008 Spring Forum. Each fall and spring, the council hosts a public forum in which the UH president and cabinet members answer staff questions.

At this spring’s event, Khator opened the forum by expressing her thanks to staff and saying that faculty and staff “should take pride in what we have accomplished.”

She also gave a brief overview of the First 100 initiative, which seeks innovative ideas about the campus’ future from the public and campus community. One comment made repeatedly on the 100 Days Web site was the need for the university to become a top-tier public research university, Khator said.

However, to obtain that status, the university needs to double its federal research funding, Khator said. She also said one of the measures for Tier-One status is the percentage of alumni giving—11 percent is the threshold. Currently, 6 percent of UH’s alumni contribute to the university.

Another goal, she noted, is improving student access and success.

“There is not a single great university that does not provide a great educational experience, great networking for their students and good life skills,” Khator said. “So, we need to focus on their success and make sure they receive the skills they need to be successful in the world’s economy because if we fail to do that, then we are failing our students.”

When asked what staff can do to help UH achieve Tier-One status, Khator replied, “Take a nap, get some rest because after the First 100 Days (initiative), we will be running as fast as we can.”

Throughout her remarks and answers, Khator stressed the importance of “moving the needle” in numerous areas, including retention and enrollment. She and her cabinet members also fielded nearly 20 questions that touched on various topics, including raises, enrollment and the campus master plan.

When asked if she supports across-the-board raises, cost-of-living raises, merit raises or a combination, Khator said, “In an ideal world, you need both, because nobody should be poorer next year than they’re this year for the job they are doing.”

The question, Khator said, “is how do you fund and keep the right balance for across-the-board and performance-based raises…. We must have high expectations, and we need to find ways to reward (staff who meet those expectations.)”

In response to a question regarding staff involvement in the capital campaign, Michael Rierson, vice president for university advancement, encouraged employees to participate in the annual faculty and staff campaign. Last year, 13.5 percent of faculty and staff gave $586,000, Rierson said. For the year-to-date, 7.3 percent of faculty and staff members have donated $810,000 to the campaign, he added.

Staff Council plans to post all 50 questions it received for the forum on its Web site by early April. To view the webcast of the forum, visit

Francine Parker