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Hobby School Launches Center with $6.5 Million Endowment September 11, 2020

I'm very excited to share with you some transformative news for the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. You may be familiar with the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Lecture Series on Ethics and Leadership.  The series was established in 2004 with a gift from the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Foundation. She was a generous benefactor, and now a $6.5 million endowment also will fund the new Elizabeth D. Rockwell (EDR) Center on Ethics and Leadership at the Hobby School.  We are thrilled!  
The news about the Center’s launch was announced yesterday afternoon by Provost Paula Myrick Short as part of introductions for the 2020 Rockwell Lecture Series. The lecture featured Bakari Sellers, CNN commentator, author, former state representative of South Carolina and my friend. He shared emotional insights and ideas around racial injustice and hope for improvement. I couldn’t think of a better embodiment of ethics and leadership than Bakari.  
The EDR Center is to be led by Professor Daniel Engster, whose work focuses on political philosophy, ethics and family policy. The Center has an ambitious agenda of lectures, seminars, visiting professorships and a scholar-in-residence program. Scholarships for students also will be awarded.  
The Center will create the Hobby Prizes that include a competitive national call for papers and a community award for civic leaders in Houston.  Priority themes for research, lectures and projects include health disparities, racial justice and voter suppression. 
I want to thank President Renu Khator and Provost Short for believing in the Hobby School to be good stewards of the endowment.  
In closing I share a poignant point Bakari made during his talk. He said “we have to dream with our eyes open” meaning to be very intentional with our efforts to improve our world and society. 
We definitely have our eyes open at the Hobby School and we greatly appreciate your support and belief in our mission.

Stay safe, happy and healthy 


Kirk Watson
Founding Dean, Hobby School of Public Affairs