The University of Houston is not resting on its laurels following word that it is one state auditor's review away from achieving tier-one status. Today, UH President Renu Khator announced the creation of a $30 million fund dedicated to recruiting faculty in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
The goal of the fund is to hire 60 new faculty members over the next two years. Khator hopes the new hires will help raise the prestige and global competitiveness of the university as well as address the workforce needs of Houston and the state.
Job growth in what are often referred to as the "STEM" fields has outpaced other sectors and is expected to continue to do so. Yet even with high unemployment rates, many of those jobs are going unfilled because of a lack of qualified workers.
“We are aggressively recruiting faculty with a research focus in one of two areas – energy and health,” Rathindra Bose, the university's vice president for research and technology transfer, said in a statement. “These are areas that address the nation’s urgent need for more students and faculty [in the hard sciences] and allow the University of Houston to help Texas stay competitive in a global economy.”
Khator, who also serves as chancellor of the University of Houston System, is not the only one looking to raise the profile of her flagship institution with an infusion of new blood in the faculty ranks.
Last week, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp announced a $5 million investment in an initiative designed to attract top scholars from around the globe to the Texas A&M University campus. "We hope this will truly be one of those ‘one plus one equals three’ programs," he said at the time.
Texas A&M is already considered a tier-one university. UH has been competing with six other public universities in the state to increase its research expenditures, academic quality, endowment and other key metrics to access a state fund set aside to award those that reach tier-one status.
Last week, UH and Texas Tech University in Lubbock got word from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that they had met the necessary criteria. Before it becomes official, however, the state auditor must review the data and sign off on it.