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Weekly Wisdom 015 - Renu Khator

Due to the current situation brought by COVID-19, chancellors, and university presidents are faced with unique challenges. Learn about how they navigate and lead through these difficulties. "Start the Week with Wisdom" is a short form live interview show that aims to be a source of wisdom and strength for many.

For the 15th installment of Weekly Wisdom, Bridget Burns, Executive Director of University Innovation Alliance and Paul Fain from Inside Higher Ed, had a short, inspiring conversation with the University of Houston President Renu Khator.

What Are The University’s Plans for This Fall?

For the past months, a lot has happened due to the pandemic. And everyone in Houston is all quite concerned. Ms. Khator says they are currently looking at all of the indicators for public health and are trying to see what the institution can do in three weeks.

She mentions the university's plan to open the campus but with as much flexibility and compassion as possible, which means that there will be classes in different modes. The students have the freedom to choose whether they want to come to the campus or not. If students prefer to go to the university, they'll be provided with all the necessary preventive measures, including masks and hygiene kits.

Faculties can also choose whether they want to teach in a highly flexible environment or conduct online classes, synchronous, or asynchronous. Ms. Kathor emphasizes that they are planning for every kind of scenario, but they hope for the best.

As a President Chancellor, How Is She Handling Decision Fatigue?

Ms. Kathor admits that it's overwhelming sometimes, especially during these past days. It's exhausting for her and her team members. Personally, Ms. Kathor does yoga meditation and gardening to relieve herself from fatigue and stress.

Ms. Kathor also adds that part of her job is to make sure that she can also relieve the stress from her team members. They do wine gatherings at times and even try to read books together. She makes sure to ask her teammates what they are doing for their mental health. She believes that communication and encouraging words are essential.

With Her Extensive Career in Leadership, Are There Lessons or Wisdom That She's Relying Upon Right Now?

Ms. Kathor says that she doesn't use any framework because, at the end of the day, we have to face things and make decisions based on your gut, intuition, experiences, and wisdom you've collected up to this time. She also shares that there are two principles that she follows until today: flexibility and compassion. In times of crisis, you have to feel it, not just from your students' point of view, but also from your faculty, staff, and community.

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