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Going to Disneyland September 1, 2020

The fall semester officially started last week. Campuses all over the country are trying to figure it all out under the unprecedented circumstances.  Lots of remote on-line classes.  Lots of masks. But still lots of excitement and hope.

Lots happening at the Hobby School

September is when the Texas Tribune runs its annual Disneyland for political and policy goobers.  They actually call it the Texas Tribune Festival (or TribFest).  In the old days (say, last year) the Tribune held a long weekend of panel discussions, speeches, dinners, and what not where folks talked about, well, politics and policy.  In the new world order, the Tribune had to take it all on-line, and they’ve done it big and right.  It’s a month long and it’s filled with great speakers and panels.  Check out the complete schedule and registration options.

At your favorite public policy school, we got us a few policy goobers. (Can you say, “Dean Goober”?  Well, don’t.)  We’re a sponsor of #TribFest20.

To help kick off the shindig, I’ll moderate a one-on-one discussion with former Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus.  This can be your primer for the upcoming legislative session. We’ll have a great talk on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 8 a.m., or you can access the interview throughout September. 


Sept. 7 and 8, the Hobby School will present the #TribFest20 House Agenda and the Senate Agenda panels, also at 8 a.m. or on demand. Houston State Rep. Sarah Davis is on the House Agenda panel and Houston State Senator Carol Alvarado will be on the Senate Agenda panel, along with Senator Sarah Eckhardt, my successor in the senate from the Austin area.

On Sept. 16, we’ll return with the September Hobby Hour to talk about the Texas economy, the impact of COVID, and the recent shock to the energy sector. We’ve gathered some heavy hitters in town: Bob Harvey (President & CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership)  Dr. Ramanan Krishnamoorti (Chief Energy Officer for UH Energy), Bill McKeon (President & CEO of the Texas Medical Center), and Dr. Laura Murillo (President & CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce). It’s free and you can sign up to watch it live or a replay by visiting this this webpage


The Hobby School presents the #TribFest20 Criminal Justice Reform discussion on Sept. 18 with Rep. Garnet Coleman and Sen. John Whitmire. They’ll be talking about the policies they’re advocating next session to ensure equal treatment for people of color, increased transparency and accountability, and public safety. 

Go to this link to register for the festival. Some events are free. Educator, student and member discounts are available.

One other thing—a big thing

On Sept. 10, the Hobby School and the UH Provost’s office are co-hosting the 2020 Elizabeth D. Rockwell Lecture Series on Ethics and Leadership with the well-known Bakari T. Sellers. In 2006, Bakari became the youngest African American elected official in the nation at age 22. He’s a regular commentator on CNN and a good friend of mine. 

We’ll also be making a very special announcement that night about the future of the Hobby School. That event is free.  All you need to do is RSVP.  

As you can see we are on a roll. A lot is going on behind and in front of the scenes so please join us at one or more of these events. I look forward to seeing you. 

Stay safe, happy and healthy 


Kirk Watson
Founding Dean, Hobby School of Public Affairs