Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Welcoming the Khators

On behalf of the Graduate Indian Student Organization, it gives me great pleasure in welcoming Dr.Renu Khator and Dr.Suresh Khator.
Dr Renu Khator, an India-born US citizen, has been endorsed as the new president of the University of Houston (UH) and chancellor of the UH System chosen from a field of roughly 200 candidates. In her capacity as chancellor, Dr.Khator will be overseeing a system with an annual operating budget that exceeds $1 billion, that serves more than 57,000 students and one that has an overall economic impact of $3 billion on the Greater Houston area each year. As president of the University of Houston, she is the chief executive officer of the largest and the oldest of the four UH System universities. The University of Houston offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs and awards 7,000 degrees each year. It is the most ethnically diverse urban research university in the country.
Born in Uttar Pradesh, India, Dr. Khator earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Kanpur. She received her Master's degree and her Ph.D. in political science from Purdue University. A noted scholar in the field of global environmental policy, President Khator has published five books and several articles on various aspects of this subject. Her Farukkhabad to Florida, Kanpur-to-Houston journey; was being milked by the media.
The story goes that when Dr. Khator first came to the United States in 1974 as a young bride following an arranged marriage, her English was so dodgy that her husband, Dr. Suresh Khator, then an engineering student at Purdue University, translated for her while she was being interviewed by the dean for school admission. She made the cut, earned high grades while learning the language from re-runs of I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show, and has never looked back since. The couple moved to Florida in 1983, when Suresh Khator received a teaching offer from the University of Southern Florida. Renu Khator took up a temporary position, but in two decades worked her way to become provost at the University, where her success in attracting funds and top notch faculty drew UH's attention.
In January 2007, she and her husband - now a faculty member in the UH Cullen College of Engineering - were awarded the prestigious Hind Rattan, given to nonresident Indians for making outstanding contributions in their field. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services included her among its 2006 Outstanding Americans by Choice awardees. The award recognizes achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens. Also in 2006, Khator received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Purdue University's College of Liberal Arts and the Outstanding Educator Award from the American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture for Enhancing Hellenic studies.
Having had the pleasure of meeting the first family of the University of Houston, I feel so happy to know a really down to earth "one among us" desi president and the ever so friendly Dr.Suresh Khator.
Srinath Iyer,
President GISO

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