The University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs leads change in a diverse world.
The Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston has exciting news to share that will transform the school and university. In 2004, a gift from the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Foundation established a lecture series on ethics and leadership. Her generous gift of $6.5 million also now will fund the Elizabeth D. Rockwell (EDR) Center on Ethics and Leadership at the Hobby School.
“Public policy is most meaningful when it confronts the issues at the core of society. The Rockwell Center will provide a forum for addressing critical issues such as voting rights, civil rights, and racial disparities.”
— Sen. Kirk P. Watson, founding dean of the Hobby School and Texas State Senator (2007-2020)
The Center will serve as a hub of ethical leadership, scholarship and activity for the University of Houston, for the city of Houston and for Texas. It will bring together academics, business leaders, community members and government and policy officials to work on timely and substantive issues.
Priority themes for the Center include health disparities, racial justice and voter suppression, to be discussed and examined through research, lectures, projects with visiting professorships and a scholar-in-residence program. Scholarships for students also will be awarded. The Center will sponsor the Hobby Prizes, including an annual community award for civic leaders in Houston and a competitive national call for papers.
The Hobby Prize for Ethical Leadership will encompass one or more annual awards of $12,000 for ethical leadership in public policy to individuals or organizations in the greater Houston area (including Harris County and contiguous counties) that make notable and courageous contributions to public life benefiting the people of the greater Houston area.
The Hobby Prize for Best Paper or Article on Ethics, Leadership or Public Policy will be awarded annually from national submissions in the amount of $12,000 for the best published article in the field. There will be a $3,000 award for honorable mention.
The center will be led by Daniel Engster, a professor at the Hobby School whose work focuses on political philosophy, ethics and family policy.
“We want to build on the strengths of communities and find what role we can play in supplementing and uniting different groups,” Engster said. “We can talk about how history can help us understand the current problems and the solutions being proposed, but in the end, we need to ask: What are your responsibilities? What can you do to address this issue?”
A series of “think and do” luncheons — designed to be held online for the fall semester — will focus on voting and voter suppression, housing and health, and healthcare. Aimed at both UH students and community members, they are designed to spark discussions that can lead to action.
About Elizabeth D. Rockwell: Elizabeth D. Rockwell entered UH as a student in 1938 and supported the University until her death in 2011. A noted financial expert in the field of retirement, estate, investment and tax planning, her name is familiar on campus. In additional to the Rockwell Lecture and Center, examples of her generosity include the Elizabeth D. Rockwell President's Suite in the Houston Alumni Center, the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Career Services Center in the C.T. Bauer College of Business and the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion in the M.D. Anderson Library. She also endowed the chairs for the deans of the M.D. Anderson Library, the College of Education and the Cullen College of Engineering.
About the Hobby School: Interdisciplinary expertise and community visibility constitute the foundation of the Hobby School of Public Affairs. The Hobby School offers a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree, as well as several dual degrees/accelerated pathway programs that are available via partnerships with other academic departments. The Hobby School’s research component is found within the Center for Public Policy, including programs and initiatives such as the Survey Research Institute, the Concept Visualization Lab, the EITM Summer Institute and the Civitas Project. Public service and community engagement are also vital components of the Hobby School, as evidenced through Hobby Fellows, Leland Fellows, the Civic Houston Internship Program, the nationally-accredited Certified Public Manager program, the Civic Engagement Boot Camp and various public events.