Saleha Khumawala, Robert Grinaker Professor of Accounting at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business, has been selected as a Piper Professor for superior teaching at the college level in Texas. Khumawala is just the 12th UH faculty member to receive the prestigious honor in the award’s 60-year history.
The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation, a Texas-based nonprofit organization founded in 1950 to support charitable, scientific and educational undertakings, selects 10 honorees from across the state each year.
“This is a tremendous recognition that illustrates the amount of teaching and various opportunities that I have been afforded throughout my career,” said Khumawala. “I could not have done this without the support I have received from my family, particularly my husband, my colleagues and my students. I am truly indebted to each and every one of them.”
Khumawala grew up in India during the 1950s, where her father was a tradesman and her mother worked as a tailor. It was then that she developed a passion for education.
“Their lack of education was the main reason that I and my siblings’ education was paramount in our family. For nearly five decades, teaching has been my calling,” she said.
This seasoned educator does much more than just teach accounting and business to students. She is an innovative leader in the classroom, connecting those principles to each student’s goals and dreams, then weaves in her own passion for entrepreneurship and service. She is the founding director of the SURE™ (Stimulating Urban Renewal through Entrepreneurship) Program, which embeds service learning with a measurable social impact. Class members include UH students, current or prospective entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities and corporate executives who serve as mentors. Since the one-of-a-kind program started in 2012, more than 630 entrepreneurs from 60 Houston zip codes have been trained, while more than 115 businesses have been launched or expanded. Khumawala works tirelessly to cover the program expenses through grants and awards. Just last fall, the SURE™ Program received the Governor’s Volunteer Award for Higher Education Community Impact.
In addition, she leads the Study Abroad India Program, a 17-day trip to various cities in India that includes visits with officials and government, corporate and educational institutions. Participants study microfinance operations in villages and slums in the area. Her impressive body of work has caused a “ripple effect” across the UH campus, according to Richard Scamell, associate dean for student affairs at the C. T. Bauer College of Business.
“Saleha Khumawala is someone who has and continues through her words and deeds to create ripples that will challenge and energize future generations, not only in Houston but across the world,” he said.
“The work done by Professor Khumawala is truly awe-inspiring. Her achievements embody the ideal faculty member at the University of Houston – an individual dedicated to research, teaching and service,” said Paula Myrick Short, UH senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “It is through the achievements and efforts of individuals like Dr. Khumawala that UH continues to move the needle as a Tier One institution.”
The University of Houston may submit only one nomination annually for the Piper Professor Program. The Piper Professor nominee is selected by the Teaching Excellence Awards committee, with approval from the Provost Office.
“Through all this, my proudest accomplishments are my students - those who overcame odds and were the first in their family to graduate from college, those who sat on a plane for the first time to go to India, and those who have now gone on to found businesses or become leaders of Big 4 accounting firms,” Khumawala added.