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Renu Khator’s philosophy for life is simple, yet very different.


“When life gives you lemons and everyone else is busy making lemonade, think about making margaritas.”

The president and chancellor of the University of Houston school system has never followed the herd or anyone else, daring to take a different road to success.

Khator, who has a PhD in political science, is focused on improving the lives of every student in the school system and hopes to take the University of Houston to the top of the leaderboard for public institutions.

“I believe in bringing in students from all different backgrounds,” said Khator, who arrived in Houston in 2008. “But once they get on campus, I want them to feel special and learn their skills so when they leave here, they have a special feeling knowing they can be anything and anybody they want to be in life.”

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Khator, the first foreign-born president of the university, is also a huge sports fan and sits on the board of governors for the NCAA. She knows all about the history and tradition of Houston athletics with “rock stars like Hakeem, Clyde Drexler, Elvin Hayes, and Carl Lewis,” but that was the past. She’s determined to help the sports programs have a bright future.


“When I got here twelve years ago, the athletic programs had lost their way and their confidence,” Khator said in 2020. “I took it upon myself to get those glory days back and now there is a different kind of confidence.”

That confidence was helped by Khator’s mission to upgrade the athletic facilities at the school, which spent more than $180 million for a new stadium and indoor facility for the football program, in addition to renovating the basketball arena.

“Athletics is part of our DNA at Houston,” she said. “People expect big things here. Carl Lewis, who coaches the track team, promised me we would have an Olympic athlete and I will be there when it happens.”

Khator is making margaritas out of lemons and hopes everybody at the University of Houston will be celebrating all the great things that are happening on campus, both academically and athletically.

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