in Houston, Texas
University of Houston chief Renu Khator says teaching, research go together: Featured video
Thursday, Apr 28, 2011, 12:53PM CST
By Jennifer Peebles
Test tubes

There's been a lot of talk lately in Texas about universities and whether they should be focused more on research or on teaching.

But to University of Houston chief Renu Khator, they go together.

As president of the university and chancellor of the U of H system, Khator is the head of Cougar Nation. And as a political scientist by training -- her area of expertise is global environmental policy -- she says she brought her own research projects directly into the classroom to use as a teaching tool for her students.

And her number one goal, she tells the Texas Tribune's Reeve Hamilton in today's featured video on the Texas Watchdog home page, is to put U of H on the "very top list of top American research universities."

"What I keep saying all the time (is), the goal is nonnegotiable," she said. "How we accomplish that, I'm happy to have a conversation about it. But as far as I'm considered, once we set the goal, we're gonna get that."

But she says teaching is very important, too, and that research can help teach students.

"I think a committment to students is absolutely essential. ... There is just no 'if's and 'but's about it. -- because, if you do not have students at your point of gravity in a university, then why are you called a university?"

She sys she's "absolutely, passionately, with no excuses" committed to teaching, and wants to "involve (students) in the creation of knowledge ... So, there is a value we bring from research to the classroom and to students. But if that loop is broken, then, I think there's something to be fixed."

As for U of H-Victoria's recently stated desire to secede and become part of the Texas A&M system: "Sometimes, in families, you do have differences of opinion ... Any member's success ought to strengthen all others, and that's what we're trying."


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Photo by flickr user NJ Tech Teacher, used under a Creative Commons license.

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