UH President Says a Med School Would Be Nice

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UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator says she loves athletics but she doesn’t want to be on the sidelines if any new medical schools are handed out in the state.

“We can be top tier without a medical school so it’s not a must for us,” she said in a face to face with the Press at her office last week. But if she had her druthers, she’d like one and she thinks Houston, the fourth largest city in the country deserves its own med school. And when she rates the top three strengths of Houston, “health” is in there right next to “energy” and “the arts.”

She also thinks UH “is really not funded for excellence.” You don’t build top ranked schools on the backs of enrollment, she says, so she’s looking for the state to cough up some more cash. And she finds absurd the idea that a state like Texas would have only two public research universities.

Khator is a self-described “big rock” kind of person, and it’s clear that as she continues her exploration of UH, she’ll be handling the main topics. Those being: getting to Tier 1, achieving more student success, supporting bigger and better athletics and improving the reputation of UH, at least to the point that it matches its substance.

Asked about some of the “littler” things, she’s concerned but obviously not caught up in them. For instance, anyone who’s encountered the maddening UH PeopleSoft system designed to ease admissions, registration and signing up for classes, knows it doesn’t manage keeping track of people or anything very well at all. Last fall, it routinely canceled UH students out of classes in the first weeks of school for no apparent reason.

“It’s not an excuse, but nationally there isn’t a university where PeopleSoft is working. I can tell you all the horror stories from my previous institution. And there may be more glitches here,” Khator says, adding that somehow UH can make up for this by putting the students first and making life less frustrating for them.

It would seem that fixing PeopleSoft might be one giant step in that direction…

To read more about Khator’s insights, as well as to see how she did on a pop quiz we gave her, see this week’s Hair Balls column by Richard Connelly. – Margaret Downing

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