June Newsletter
06/06/2023, 09:30:01 AM

June 2023 Newsletter


Relocation planning underway for Hobby School of Public Affairs

The Hobby School of Public Affairs will have a new base of operation on the University of Houston campus ahead of the fall semester. The move unites the school's offices in one location and accommodates our growth in personnel as we anticipate the construction of a new building for the school.


The new headquarters will be in the Bates Law Center and Teaching Unit 2 buildings in the northeast corner of campus adjacent to Spur 5, between the new John M. O'Quinn Law Building and the site of the future Hobby School building. Construction for the new building begins in 2024.


Faculty, researchers, administration and business staff will be in the Bates Law Center. The communications team will be next door in Teaching Unit 2. Students can access advising offices, classrooms, meeting rooms and a lounge area in Bates Law on the ground and first floors.


The move is part of a campus-wide Centennial Plan 2027, which includes renovations and additions across campus to take the University of Houston to new heights. Stay tuned for more information.

Hobby School marks sixth commencement

The Hobby School celebrated its sixth commencement on May 11 for those achieving graduate and dual degrees and certificates in public policy. Among them were 11 members of the Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society, the national honor society for public administration students, and nine two-time Coogs. Of the 26 graduates, 21 are Master of Public Policy graduates, two have dual degrees in Master of Arts in Applied Economics/Master of Public Policy and six earned graduate certificates in public policy. They distinguish themselves as having the interdisciplinary blend of social sciences, critical thinking and data analysis indicative of skilled public policy professionals.


Commencement speaker Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth, whose passion for public service began as a Mickey Leland Fellow on Capitol Hill, congratulated the graduates for their achievements: "You all have received the very best education. If you remain a student in life, you will find the secrets to success. It’s your own personal process that is necessary for you to get to where you want to be."


Student speaker Jon Bumann thanked his professors and peers for their support and encouragement. In addition, Karen Banda received the Garnet Coleman Award for Student Excellence, and Mathew Moseley, MPP ‘22, was the alumni speaker.


One hundred twenty-one graduates have completed the program since its inception in 2015. Dean Jim Granato extended his advice to see things as they are, be accountable and continue to grow: “The Hobby way of training provides you with a firm foundation and advantage to compete with anybody in the marketplace.”

2023 Harris Fellows selected to intern in county offices

Introducing the newest Harris Fellows, assigned to Harris County offices as full-time, paid interns supporting county operations over the summer. Six Harris Fellows will develop their public service experience through meaningful work on constituent services, research, policy analysis and special projects while building their professional network. This is the third cohort of Harris Fellows, the latest addition to the Hobby School's robust internship programs in Houston, Austin and Washington, D.C. Former participants are finishing coursework, enrolled in post-baccalaureate studies, or working in government, electoral politics or statewide nonprofits. Intern stipends are supported through generous Hobby School donations and endowment funds.

Aryana Azizi
Harris County Precinct 4, Commissioner Lesley Briones


Alexis Boehmer
Harris County Department of Economic Equality and Opportunity


Daniela Castillo
Harris County Precinct 2, Commissioner Adrian Garcia


Lauren deFrance
Harris County Commissioners Court’s Analyst’s Office


Caitlyn Foret
Harris County Attorney’s Office, Christian Menefee


Dima Ghazala
Harris County Clerk’s Office, Teneshia Hudspeth

Interns see government in action during 88th Texas legislature

Eleven Hobby Fellows took part in the fast-paced biennial policymaking session. The internship provides UH students with practical training and invaluable experiences at the Texas State Capitol, where they gain knowledge of legislative procedures and play vital roles in drafting and analyzing bills, staffing assigned committees, conducting research and working with constituents. During the 140-day session, Hobby Fellows are immersed in the legislative process while learning valuable skills and making lifetime connections. Three of the Harris Fellows were promoted to full-time staffers in the offices of Representatives Ann Johnson, Jolanda Jones and Gene Wu, with a fourth on her way to Capitol Hill to work in the office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. 


On May 15, Sen. Borris Miles formally recognized the contributions of the Hobby Fellows during the 88th Texas Legislature on the Texas Senate floor with Senate Resolution 563. Learn more about their time living and working full-time in Austin.

How Things Really Work with Dean Jim Granato

Science Series: Establishing causality through design

In the latest episode of How Things Really Work, Hobby School Dean Jim Granato explains the distinction between reliable and valid data when determining data properties and accuracy in research. Public policy students will benefit from the measured approach to testing data tools in common research methods.


Stay tuned for more on the role of scientific practices in helping understand effective policy and policymaking.



Kudos to the Richard Murray Endowed Scholarship recipients

Congratulations to the spring 2023 Richard Murray Endowed Scholarship recipients. Named for noted UH Professor Emeritus and Hobby School Senior Research Fellow Richard Murray, the scholarship is awarded to outstanding undergraduate students who share a passion for politics and policy, have a strong academic commitment and demonstrate a dedication to public service. Students receive $2,000 to help them meet their academic goals.


A political scientist, Murray co-founded the Center for Public Policy, the precursor to the Hobby School of Public Affairs, in 1981, and served as the director of polling operations for nearly four decades. In addition to polling, Murray’s expertise includes election trends and practices, and partisan political change in Texas.


Murray’s endowed scholarship is one way the Hobby School helps alleviate financial demands as UH students prepare for careers in the public sector. Additional scholarships will be awarded for summer 2023 applicants. Students can apply through July 10.


Andrés Espinola
Political Science, Junior


Winnie Phạm
Political Science, Freshman


Matthew Tao
Political Science and Psychology, Senior


Arkan Turki
Political Science, Junior


Eshal Warshi
Political Science, Sophomore

Hobby School sponsors legislative discussion at University of Houston-Downtown on June 22

Save the date for a uniquely Houston event hosted by The Texas Tribune about the state budget, taxes, public education, health care and other key issues with Houston area legislators at noon, Thursday, June 22 at the University of Houston-Downtown. The Hobby School is a proud sponsor of this free, live conversation where state lawmakers will talk through the major policy debates that arose during the session, discuss which bills passed and which ones didn’t and what it all means for Houstonians. Register for the event or stream it online at texastribune.org.



Pinto and Wong lecture before international security academy

Hobby School Professors Sunny Wong and Pablo Pinto lectured on international nonproliferation sanctions at the Security & Strategic Trade Management Academy in May at the UH Hilton. Fifty international participants attended the gathering to promote strategic trade management skills while strengthening foreign governments' capabilities and commitments to counterproliferation. It was hosted by the University of Houston Borders, Trade, and Immigration Institute, Cullen College of Engineering Technology Division and Culmen International for the U.S. Department of State.


Pinto is a distinguished professor of public policy and director of the Hobby School Center for Public Policy. His expertise covers political economy, globalization, fiscal policy and taxation, political representation and quantitative methods, and he is co-editor of the journal Economics & Politics.


Wong is a professor of public policy and the associate dean for Hobby School graduate studies. His expertise in monetary policy, learning dynamics, business-cycle theory, foreign direct investment and Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models has been featured in international journals, editorials, books and other publications.

Conference explored policy responses to natural disasters

Winter Storm Uri exposed weaknesses in the state's power grid and its regulatory framework prompting action by state lawmakers to mitigate future outages. To help examine the increasing risks in energy security, Hobby School Distinguished Professor Pablo Pinto shared research from the Hobby School report, "Natural Disasters and Willingness to Pay for Reliable Electricity," at the 7th Annual North American Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Conference sponsored by the UH Law Center on April 27. The conference invited experts spanning North America from governments, academia and the private sector to shed light on problems and solutions in today's rapidly changing environment.

Hobby School in the News


Issues facing Texas legislators researched by the Hobby School dominated media activity in May. With the state experiencing a record-breaking surplus, topics such as renewable energy, elections, gun safety, education and culture war issues made daily headlines. Hobby School Dean Jim Granato and Professor Sunny Wong commented on the recent bank failures amid an interest rate hike by the Fed in Time.


Hobby School experts and research were also featured in articles in the Wall Street Journal, Texas Monthly, Houston Public Media, Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News and Hill Country News, bringing the year's total to nearly 170 media mentions.

Complete list of Hobby School Media

Hobby School Happenings


Hobby School Happenings captures lectures, events, deadlines, programs and collaborations hosted or co-sponsored by the Hobby School and its centers. Mark your calendars and join us for the next Hobby School happening.

Friday, June 9
2023 Social Economy and Enterprise Academy Kickoff


Thursday, June 15
Fall 2023 Graduate Application Deadline for International Candidates


Friday, June 16
Certified Public Manager Program Graduation


Friday, June 22, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Graduate School Information Session (Virtual)


Thursday, June 22, 12-1 p.m.
Houston and the 2023 Legislative Session
University of Houston-Downtown

Hosted by The Texas Tribune


Saturday, July 1
EDR Center Care Forum Submission Deadline for Scholars


Monday, July 10
Summer 2023 Richard Murray Endowed Scholarship Application Deadline


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