Although USF Provost Renu Khator has outgrown her position professionally and is slated to lead the University of Houston (UH) System as the UH president and chancellor, her departure should be viewed in a positive light.
Khator, now bound for bigger and better things on the higher-education career ladder, did not treat USF or its students as small or insignificant.
Rather, she jumped into the fray of educational issues on campus and took a hands-on approach, rather than dictating directives from a comfy ivory-tower seat.
Consider Khator’s approach to this year’s budget cuts, which threatened to cripple the College of Arts and Sciences’ day-to-day operation by way of cut classes and over-enrolled and over-filled class sections.
Khator played whatever role she could to decrease overhead without hurting the overall quality of education, even teaching an introductory Hindi language class. She told the Oracle: “When times are tough, leadership is tested. We will do everything possible to keep students from feeling any pain.”
Khator should also be praised for being so accessible to students, taking time out of her busy day Oct. 15 – when the UH board of regents announced she was selected as the sole finalist for the president and chancellor positions – to return phone calls to the Oracle that same afternoon.
It’s not too much of a stretch to say this policy – willingness to talks with the student press – reflects respect for students.
Khator’s imprint on the USF campus’ intellectual character remains, however, the most memorable aspect of her 22-year tenure at USF. Her colleagues attribute to her leadership better graduation rates, freshman SAT scores and GPAs, and she attracted high-caliber research to USF, making it rank among Carnegie Institute’s Top 63 public research universities.
As detailed by the Houston Chronicle, moreover, USF faculty serving under Khator brought “in three times as much annually in research grants as it did a decade ago.”
Her work as a fundraiser was highly successful, resulting in the largest private grant in USF’s history, $34.5 million to build the Kiran C. Patel Center.
It can’t be said that Khator was solely concerned with research and that she neglected the undergraduate population, however.
In April, Khator presented a proposal to the Board of Trustees and Florida Board of Regents for an eight-floor Social Sciences and Humanities building to replace the current, outdated hall which, according to the Oracle, is known for its unidentifiable smells and dysfunctional toilets.
Khator’s advocated for USF students and for the betterment of the University. She will be sincerely missed, and we at the Oracle wish the best for her in her future endeavors.