The University of Houston is making big plans to improve academic results, research and more ahead of the school’s centennial celebration, says [Renu Khator](https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/search/results?q=Renu Khator), president of the University of Houston and chancellor of the UH System.
On Oct. 12, UH held the 2022 President’s Fall Address to discuss those growth plans.
First and foremost, the university needs to double down on student success, Khator said. UH aims to increase the six-year graduation rate to 70% in order to become a top-50 university. Currently, UH’s rate is 63%, which is an increase from 2013’s rate of 48%.
“Graduation is important, but equally important is the skillset that students are graduating with,” Khator said, adding that UH needs to find ways to give students “a competitive advantage, that is uniquely Houston, that takes advantage of the vibrant economy around us.”
Increasing internships is one way Khator proposed creating such opportunities.
Research is another aspect that Khator hopes to improve upon. The university plans to invest $300 million to recruit researchers and build shared research facilities over the next five years, she said. The goal is to increase the university’s National Science Foundation-reported research to $400 million per year; currently the university is sitting at $250 million total research expenditures, up $119 million from 2013.
During Texas’ next legislative session, UH will make a request for funding through the Permanent University Fund, a constitutional fund and public endowment in the state of Texas, like the University of Texas System and Texas A&M University System have received.
“Please support me and your government relations team in making our case,” Khator said.
UH has also requested that the state legislature fund another academic building in Katy in anticipation of further growth. The Sugar Land campus is also growing. UH opened a College of Technology building in Sugar Land in 2019, but all of the college’s programs and departments are expected to move there by 2025, according to the university’s website.
With the centennial anniversary of the university approaching in 2027, Khator said she is creating three task forces to implement the “big plans” the university has for the commemoration.
The Academic Task Force headed by interim Provost [Robert McPherson](https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/search/results?q=Robert McPherson) will bring ideas for speakers, seminars and discourses. The Physical Campus Task Force headed by Senior Vice President [Raymond Bartlett](https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/search/results?q=Raymond Bartlett) will come up with ways to enhance the physical campus. Lastly, the Celebration and Events Task Force headed by Vice President [Eloise Brice](https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/search/results?q=Eloise Brice) will plan a yearlong series of festivities for the milestone.
“Our mission is to build a brighter future by training the next generation,” Khator said. “Our mission is yet to be fulfilled, our vision is yet to be realized, and our best days are yet to come.”
UH is No. 2 on the Houston Business Journal’s 2022 Largest Houston-Area Colleges and Universities List, based on the 46,702 students enrolled in the spring 2022 semester, second only to Lone Star College. The university also has 3,204 local faculty and 3,461 local, full-time employees.