Instead of the scheduled celebration to install Renu Khator as its new president, UH last week turned its attention and services to faculty, staff, students and countless other Houstonians in need. On campus, that effort continues with such programs as the Cougars Helping Cougars Hurricane Ike Relief Fund to collect financial donations, goods and supplies for UH students, employees and their dependents affected by the storm. UH is also reaching out to help the community in general. Notable efforts at UH include:
- The campus serving as a FEMA Point of Distribution (POD) site where more than 1,600 students, faculty, staff as well as UH Air Force and Army ROTC cadets and staff volunteered to hand out nearly 144,000 liters of bottled water, 480,000 pounds of ice and 65,000 emergency meal kits to 40,000 grateful Houstonians.
- Their work drew praise from U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who visited Robertson Stadium to thank volunteers. "I'm very impressed with the combinations of public and private partnerships, which UH represents," Lee said. "This is an academic institution that could have easily turned inward and concentrated only on academics. But for the university to open its doors to be the community - to be ‘the neighborhood university' - is a testament to the leadership of UH President Renu Khator and her cabinet."
- Offering a helping hand to the elderly residents of nearby Beall Village who were unable to charge their cell phones, wheelchairs and scooters when the complex lost electricity for an extended period. Tosha Bowles, regional manager of the Bayou Oaks and Cullen Oaks student apartments at UH, arranged to run an extension cord from her facilities over to Beall Village.
- Working through local hospitals and local pharmacies, the College of Pharmacy is providing support services, including medication counseling to individuals throughout Houston and the surrounding areas. Contact: 713-743-1300.
- The College of Optometry's University Eye Institute is providing care for patients with storm-related eye injuries. It is also providing rapid optical services to replace lost or broken spectacles and contact lenses.
- The Mobile Eye Institute is operational and available for deployment in coordination with the city of Houston to provide essential eye care services for displaced Houstonians.
- The UH Law Center is operating its Texas Consumer Complaint Center open around the clock, seven days a week, to receive questions and help with legal issues including landlord/tenant, employment, insurance and tree problems. Contact: 713-743-2025.
- The College of Technology is offering technical assistance to community service organizations as they rebuild their IT infrastructure.
- The Cullen College of Engineering is providing services and resources to the greater Houston community through the Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology, in conjunction with the College of Engineering faculty and the Center for Innovative Grouting Materials and Technology.
"I am so proud of our University of Houston Cougars," President Khator said of the outreach efforts. "When Hurricane Ike came, the size and intensity were scary. Some of us were fortunate enough to get up on our feet quickly and now we're volunteering to help rebuild our city and the community."