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Updates from the Office of the Provost September 24, 2014

Dear UH Faculty and Staff:

With the semester well underway, I hope you are finding yourself in a productive and meaningful start to this year of record-breaking successes. Our first-year class is our best yet. We have new and talented faculty joining our ranks and the University of Houston continues to build for the future on our outstanding achievements. It's a great time to be a Cougar.

Welcoming the Class of 2018

We have enrolled a larger, stronger, and more diverse class than ever. The Class of 2018 has an average SAT of 1143 with 32 National Merit Scholars! Ninety six percent of the freshmen are enrolled full time with nearly 70% of them taking 15 credits or more. Almost half of the class has chosen to live on campus.

Interestingly, sixty percent of the freshmen class has enrolled in UHin4, a program allowing students to complete college in 4 years and to keep their tuition fixed for the duration. I acknowledge and thank all those involved in making UHin4 so successful. I also applaud the efforts of our deans, chairs, faculty, and staff in the colleges for believing in this program and helping us to surpass our goal.

Student credit hours have gone up more than the student headcount. In the legislative year, this growth is significant because we hope that it will lead to higher state funding next year. In addition, even with the second-highest residential capacity in the state of Texas, our residence halls are almost full. The campus life is getting better and students seem to enjoy the services, academic and residential, offered to them on campus.

Welcoming our New Faculty

I am delighted that 119 new faculty members have joined us this year, making our university a richer place. President Khator and I had the opportunity to meet with them at the New Faculty Orientation. They are an exceptional group of individuals and I am convinced their presence will give us renewed energy as we solidify our Tier One status.

Faculty and Staff Compensation Consideration

As you may know, the academic budget runs a year behind. This is the reason you saw a salary increase pool last year even though our enrollment had declined. The impact of last year's enrollment decline is experienced this year and the increase in this year's enrollment will be seen next year. The funding associated with our current enrollment increase will come in September of 2015. With that in mind, I have assembled a faculty and staff team with representatives from both the Faculty Senate and Staff Council to discuss how we move forward within this funding scenario.

However, decisions have already been made to reallocate resources to address the following priorities:

  1. A one-time bonus for all full time faculty and staff earning less than $50,000. This funding will be distributed as soon as possible.
  2. Faculty raises related to tenure and promotions for this year.
  3. Full coverage of tuition and fees for doctoral students - my number one priority, which will strengthen our doctoral programs and make them even more competitive.
  4. New faculty/staff lines to handle enrollment growth.

Higher education, nationwide, is under pressure to find more efficient ways of operation and we will continue to find our own solutions.

I hope you share my pride in our accomplishments, and as always, I welcome your input and suggestions at provost@uh.edu. I wish you continued success this academic year.

Paula Myrick Short
Provost