University of Houston's rock star president reveals all: Top challenge, favorite restaurant and a closet secret
Since arriving at the helm of the University of Houston System as chancellor and as UH president in 2008, Renu Khator has been steadily transforming the university and enhancing the school's national image. In only four years, she has taken Houston (as she prefers to call it) from somewhat educational obscurity to national recognition including a Carnegie Tier One ranking.
Khator demurs that it has not been her single-handed effort but rather a team that has advanced the university, including achieving that Tier One status in only three years, two years less than what she promised the board of regents at her hiring. Nevertheless, board of regents chair Nelda Blair declared Khator a "rock star" when explaining the 40 percent raise and $150,000 contract renewal bonus that Khator received at the end of last year.
A native of India, Khator arrived in the United States in the mid-70s, following an arranged marriage to Suresh Khator, now a professor of engineering at UH. She earned a master's degree and her Ph.D. in political science from Purdue University and then moved on to the University of South Florida where she served for 22 years as provost and senior vice president.
Khator is noted for her fierce loyalty to UH, which extends beyond the political battlefields of Austin and the boardrooms of Houston all the way to her closet where the majority of her wardrobe is UH Cougar red. She launched "red Friday" at the university to engender school spirit. And she is seldom, if ever, without some form of wardrobe red.