Guiding the institutions of the University of Houston System are nine women and men serving on its Board of Regents. Together, they oversee the four UHS universities and ensure each institution is fulfilling its commitment to the communities they serve.
This summer, four new members joined the Board: Doug H. Brooks (’75), former chairman of the Board, CEO and president of Brinker International, Inc., Steve I. Chazen, chairman and CEO of Magnolia Oil & Gas Corporation, Jack B. Moore (’77), retired president and CEO of Cameron International, and Andrew Z. Teoh (’20), a UH senior in The Honors College and the C.T. Bauer College of Business.
Three Regents bring to the Board extensive business acumen and a long history of community leadership. The fourth, Teoh, will serve for a year as a representative of the more than 70,000 students attending UHS universities.
Knowing the significant role each will play in the oversight of the System, we asked them to share their plans for, and impressions of, the UH System.
In your opinion, what is the role of public higher education in building a strong economy and healthy communities?
An educated workforce is critical to a strong economy. Higher education should continue to focus on building 21st century skills in their graduates. These skills should include mathematical and scientific facility as well as a thoughtful understanding of global politics and economics. People who have meaningful jobs will build healthy communities.
I am a firm believer that higher education inspires and enables individuals to compete on a global stage and provides a partnership great cities must have to attract and retain businesses and to advance prosperity in their communities. I can’t imagine our great city without a premier public university that educates and empowers our future leaders to be an engine of intellectual and economic success.
What do you consider the greatest challenge facing higher education and how will that influence your service on the Board?
Brooks:Delivering quality higher education while controlling rising costs is the biggest challenge facing us moving forward.
I see three main challenges. Program relevance—the world is changing rapidly, and universities must constantly evolve their degree programing to prepare students to succeed in the marketplace. Costs —keeping college education affordable requires being efficient in how we manage cost structure while not compromising program excellence. Competitiveness—in all we do, from academics to athletics the bar is constantly being raised, and that requires resources to reinvest in our programming, faculty and infrastructure. I want to ensure we are focused on student success while providing education excellence and relevance in the most efficient manner.
What do you hope your legacy will be to the UH System?
I hope I can be remembered as a student, alumnus and Regent who helped make my alma mater (UH) and the UH System better places for the next generation of students.
I hope I can contribute, in a small way, to strengthening the UH System’s professional colleges while improving access to students from under-represented communities.
What words of wisdom do you have for students who are preparing to enter a competitive job market?
I don’t know how much wisdom I can contribute, but I can say that a focus on mathematical skills will help differentiate our graduates from other job seekers.
I would tell them to focus on being the best you can be at whatever role you are given—it will get you noticed. Also, be a team player and share your successes with others; be the first to raise your hand for new assignments, and don’t be afraid to take a risk.
How does your extensive experience as a CEO prepare you to serve on the Board of Regents?
CEOs have two major duties. They set the narrative or tone for the organization so that all of a firm’s constituencies know why the company exists. Secondly, CEOs take responsibility for the actions of the enterprise. Being a Regent and understanding the proper role of the Regent as compared with the UH System’s administration is good preparation.
Running a global corporation taught me a lifetime of lessons: Being accountable and responsible for your enterprise, being a good financial steward as well as a good corporate citizen, listening and engaging diverse perspectives, people and cultures, and being competitive—winning builds pride and loyalty to your brand.
What are your strongest memories of the campus as a student?
My fondest memories are of dorm life, especially my two years as a resident advisor in Moody Towers, when the towers were brand new.
Living in Taub Hall as a freshman and meeting new friends from a multitude of different cultures and the campus buzz after beating UT (The University of Texas) 30-0 in Austin our first year in the Southwest Conference.
What was your proudest moment as a student?
Most definitely, being the first in my family to earn a college degree.
Getting my degree. Between studying at night and working during the day, I have no memories of student life, except being tired all the time.
What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
I started in the restaurant industry as a busboy and dishwasher and rose to CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of a Fortune 500 company.
I can drive most any form of farm equipment.
ANDREW Z. TEOH
You have a demanding course schedule and still manage to find time to volunteer your time to the UH System. How do you do it?
I love everything that I do. Whether learning in the classroom leading an organization, or serving as Student Regent, I’m passionate about the experience and appreciative of the opportunity. A positive mentality makes “work” enjoyable. Of course, I couldn’t do any of it without supportive family and friends.
There are 70,000 students in the UH System. How are you going to best represent your fellow students?
My background in student organizations has helped shape my understanding of the student experience. Over the coming year, I want to continue to be engaged in student life at all four UH System institutions. Attending events, sitting in on meetings and simply talking to my peers will help me develop a holistic student perspective that I can share with the Board.
What example would you like to set for your fellow students?
I want to be ethical, humble and kind. I’ve always tried to live by these tenets, and the next year will be no exception. Sometimes, it’s easy—and tempting—to sweep these values under the rug, but I hope to embrace them at every turn.
What are your goals after graduation?
Right now, I’m keeping my options open. I’m considering both pursuing more education and diving directly into the workforce, but I have a little time before I need to finalize my post-graduation plans. I’m excited to see where I end up.