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Thursday, September 23, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 23

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McMahen applauds progress

Regent praises UH 'renaissance' at faculty assembly

By Jim Parsons
Daily Cougar Staff 

UH System Board of Regents Chairman Charles E. McMahen praised the University's progress and priorities at Wednesday's Fall Faculty Assembly in Farish Hall.

McMahen, who began his second term as board chairman this semester, said he was pleased with the role the Regents are taking in system administration. "The board is really setting policy," he said. "Our principal role is to be supportive."

He also applauded what he called a "true renaissance" at UH, referring to a period of increased enrollment, improvements in the physical plant and an increase in the school's prestige.

"Everything else doesn't really matter if we don't have (academic excellence)," McMahen said.

He stressed the importance of elevating UH to the status of a Tier I research campus, saying that of the 10 largest cities in the United States, only Houston, Dallas and San Antonio do not have such universities.


Board of Regents Chairman Charles McMahen addresses the Fall Faculty Assembly at Farish Hall on Wednesday.

Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

Though McMahen said UH "made a lot of friends and made a lot of progress" in the 76th Texas Legislature, bringing the University the largest increase in general funding of any state school, even more involvement and work would be required during the next legislative session to improve UH's research status.

"Money isn't the answer to everything, but it certainly goes a long way toward helping a lot of things," McMahen said.

UH President Arthur K. Smith also addressed the assembly regarding the University's fiscal year 2000 budget.

"We had a great year, frankly," Smith said in reference to last fiscal year, with the extra funding from the Legislature and tuition and fee increases.

He said his first budgetary priority lies in faculty and staff pay raises, for which nearly $10 million was budgeted this year. Smith said faculty and staff would receive an average 8-percent pay raise over the next two years.

In addition to the pay increases, Smith said the University has allocated $2.68 million for 42 new faculty positions, most of which will be in the colleges of Engineering and Humanities, Fine Arts and Communication.

Another major goal the president mentioned was increasing, yet controlling, enrollment.

This year, Smith said, UH enrolled 3,400 first-time freshmen, a number he said the school would keep close to in the near future. A drastic increase in the number of first-time freshmen -- some 70 percent in the past five years -- coupled with a near-80 percent retention rate will lead to more upper-level students and a higher graduation rate.

"We will become somewhat more selective ... with each passing year," Smith said. "There is a real shift ... in the overall enrollment pattern at the University of Houston."

Smith said UH would like to increase the quality of its transfer students, like the freshmen. "In the best of all worlds, we would be doing no remedial education at all," he said.

Other priorities lie in increasing appropriations to the UH Libraries -- an 8-percent increase in acquisitions funding for the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library and $320,000 in new funds for the O'Quinn Law Library -- and campuswide classroom renovations.

Smith also said the University has appropriated $1 million in new funds for scholarships and $1 million to create new academic computing positions in UH colleges.

The Faculty Senate will next meet at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, in the Farish Hall Kiva.
 

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