Renu Khator
News & Media

Renu Khator

President, University of Houston

Describe your university in three words. Where diversity excels.

How do you stay engaged with students? Through Twitter, classroom visits, and walking around campus

What’s your favorite university tradition? “Cougar Red Friday” — students show pride in their journey by wearing red.

What makes your university great? Being in a city like Houston — expert faculty, internships, experience, global exposure.

What experiences best prepared you to lead a public research university? It has been three unusual experiences: one, being president of the Faculty Senate, which gave me a deeply held respect for the faculty but also of their love for the institution. Two, working under a non-traditional President (Betty Castor was Commissioner of Higher Education in Florida) because that is when I learned the role of the community and the legislature in the success of a university. And finally, my mentors who shared with me their own trials and tribulations.

Advice on first day on job? Don’t assume things — the culture, the context, the history and the values of your new place are not the same. Ask questions and learn about the university’s history.

What’s your proudest achievement? Making alumni proud of their university.

What’s your favorite way to spend free time? Experiencing another culture — by traveling, reading, or watching documentaries

What’s the best book you’ve read recently? I just finished reading “Educated” by Tara Westover and it really left an impression on me. Another book which is about to be released by my favorite authors is “The Forest of Enchantment” by Chitra Divakaruni. This book retells the story of Ramayana (a Hindu epic) from a woman’s point of view.

What was the last thing you cooked/baked? I love making Baklava, but with a twist so it has half the calories and twice the crunch. I baked a tray yesterday.

Last concert? Bruno Mars

Place to travel that I have never been before? Tibet — it is beautiful, but also has some history with India. The documentaries I have watched tell me that not only that the land is magical but people are spiritual.