List of Presidents of the University of Houston

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The Ezekiel W. Cullen Building at the University of Houston has housed the President's office since 1950.
Renu Khator, the 13th President of the University of Houston

The office of the President of the University of Houston, currently held by Renu Khator, was created with the founding of the University of Houston (then known as Houston Junior College) in 1927 as the chief executive officer of the school. From 1927 until 1945 when UH separated from Houston Independent School District, the university's president also held the position of Superintendent of Schools of that school district. In 1956, the duties of president were divided into two positions. The position of Chancellor was created to fulfill past presidential duties regarding external affairs, while the president remained responsible for internal affairs of the university. This leadership structure lasted until 1961, when the university became a state-run, public institution. The duties of the chancellor and president became re-consolidated back into the sole position of president.

Since 1997, the President of the University of Houston has also held the position of Chancellor of the University of Houston System, thus making it a dual-office. Note: The defunct Chancellor of the University of Houston position should not be confused with the current position of Chancellor of the University of Houston System. While one position refers to a leader of the single flagship institution of the University of Houston System, the latter refers to the leader of the entire University of Houston System consisting of several other universities besides the flagship institution.

Number Name Tenure Life Notes & Events
1 Edison E. Oberholtzer 1927–1950 1880–1954 University of Houston was founded, permanent location was created, enrollment increased from under 500 to over 13,000
2 Walter William Kemmerer 1950–1953 1903–1993 Was interim president in 1950
Interim Charles Flemming McElhinney 1953–1954 1907–1978
3 A.D. Bruce 1954–1956 1894–1969 Served as Chancellor of the University of Houston when that position was created until 1961, helped to establish UH as a state school
4 Clanton Ware Williams 1956–1961 1904–1975 Served as President after A.D. Bruce became Chancellor
5 Philip Guthrie Hoffman 1961–1977 1915–2008 First chancellor of the University of Houston System
6 Barry Munitz 1977–1982 1941—
Interim Hugh Walker 1982–1983 1935–2005
7 Richard L. Van Horn 1983–1989 1932—
Interim George W. Magner 1989–1990 1927–2005 Ended the tradition of a live cougar Shasta mascot
8 Marguerite Ross Barnett 1990–1992 1942–1992 First female and first black president, Took a leave of absence after being diagnosed with cancer
9 James H. Pickering 1992–1995 1938— Was originally interim president after Barnett stepped down
10 Glenn Allan Goerke 1995–1997 1931–2015
11 Arthur K. Smith 1997–2003 1937— First person to hold UH Presidency and UHS Chancellor position simultaneously
12 Jay Gogue 2003–2007 1947—
Interim John M. Rudley 2007 1947— Was President of Texas Southern University from 2008-2016; currently President Emeritus at Texas Southern
13 Renu Khator 2008— 1955— First foreign-born president, allowed for re-establishment of live Shasta mascot