September Newsletter
09/06/2023, 10:30:01 AM

September Newsletter

Believing: The First Step to Change with professor and legal scholar, Anita Hill

Professor, legal scholar and author Anita Hill will deliver the annual Elizabeth D. Rockwell Distinguished Lecture on Ethics and Leadership for the Hobby School of Public Affairs at 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 5 in the Rockwell Pavilion at M.D. Anderson Library. Hill testified against then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991 with allegations of workplace sexual harassment, making history by bringing a conversation usually handled behind closed doors into the public consciousness.


The lecture will explore Hill’s intrepid testimony, challenging one of the country’s oldest and strongest institutions, its aftermath and the continued fight for racial and gender equality 30 years later with the #MeToo movement. As a leading voice on these issues, Hill, now a professor of social policy, law, and women's, gender and sexuality studies at Brandeis University, will also discuss gender-based violence as a cultural and structural problem.


The lecture is free, but registration is required.

Dean Jim Granato delivers data-driven presentation at annual summit

Hispanics have a significant impact on the region’s businesses and our economy according to the data-driven presentation delivered by Hobby School Dean Jim Granato at the State of Hispanics Data Summit and Business Expo hosted by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 23 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas-Houston Branch.


The presentation featuring data from the American Community Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau and a recent Hobby School survey on policy issues surrounding the upcoming City of Houston election gained local media attention, including an in-depth story from the Houston Chronicle, a broadcast interview with KPRC and a segment on Houston Public Media’s Houston Matters.

The Hobby Hour: The Fight for Democracy

Historian, professor and author Jeremi Suri will discuss his latest book, "Civil War by Other Means," and the survival of American democracy and democratic institutions in today's political landscape. His book describes specific pathologies in our society that date back to the post-Civil War era, concluding that the present polarization and competing visions of democracy are not unique. Suri offers a new perspective on modern American democracy by sharing a historical account of political violence, power dynamics and the hope of a unified nation by emphasizing lines of continuity from this period to current events. Chase Untermeyer, a professor of practice at the Hobby School, will moderate the virtual discussion.


Fall semester kicks off

The Hobby School is abuzz this semester as everyone settles into the new location, including close to 200 new and returning students. We also welcome the most recent Master of Public Administration candidates and several new Hobby School team members. We shared some memories of faculty members and instructors, introduced the largest cohort of Coogs in the Civic Houston Internship Program and welcomed the campus community during Shasta’s Open House and Co-Curricular Program Fair.



New survey examines transgender policies in Texas, California and Arizona

A new three-state survey examines the public opinion of Texans, Californians and Arizonans regarding restrictive transgender legislation and policies. Texas laws that ban the participation of transgender women in women’s collegiate sporting events (Texas Senate Bill 15) and gender-affirming treatment for transgender children (Texas Senate Bill 14) took effect on Sept. 1.


The report is the second in a series by a collaboration of researchers at the University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University's The College of Liberal Arts and SciencesStanford University's Bill Lane Center for the American West and Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR).


Hobby School Senior Research Fellows Richard Murray and Mark P. Jones are leading the Texas survey. In a recent op-ed authored for The Hill, Jones shared that the surveys found that in all three states, restrictive policies enjoy majority (Texas and Arizona) or at least plurality (California) support within the general population.



Boost voter education superpower at the Civic Engagement Boot Camp

This year’s Civic Engagement Boot Camp features topics and speakers designed to increase knowledge of voter education initiatives and engagement opportunities for participants interested in positive change in their community. The boot camp is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

Restorative justice series features professor, author, founder of Gideon’s Promise

Public defenders represent over 80 percent of people interacting with the court system. In “Gideon’s Promise, A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice,” author Jonathan Rapping combines wisdom drawn from his experience representing a disproportionate number of poor people of color who rely on others to navigate the law on their behalf. 


Rapping is speaking at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, in the Rockwell Pavilion at M.D. Anderson Library as part of the restorative justice series hosted by the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership at the Hobby School. 


A professor of law at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and visiting professor of law at Harvard University Law School, Rapping is nationally known for his work on criminal justice reform and as founder of Gideon’s Promise, a national nonprofit organization working with public defenders to provide equal justice for marginalized communities. 

Freedom of the Press in an Era of Misinformation – Cognitive Problems, Legal Solutions

Civic Houston Interns gear up for voting projects this semester

Group of students

The Civic Houston Internship Program broke a record this semester, registering 52 students for the fall internship experience. Open to all UH undergraduates, the fall 2023 cohort represents the largest UH class to date with thirteen academic disciplines, including business, communications, economics, history, psychology, public health, public policy and more. The program attracts service-minded students seeking experiential opportunities in government, nonprofit and campaign offices. Interns typically shadow office administrators, participate in office activities alongside staff and learn how government and non-profit organizations work for communities. In addition to completing their internship hours during the semester, students will also participate in volunteer work centered around the mayoral election and voter registration. 

Students tackle homeownership, housing and electric vehicles data for nonprofits

Fourteen University of Houston students were matched with five local nonprofits needing skilled research and data analysis consultants over the summer through the Social Economy and Enterprise Academy. Master of Public Administration candidate Dahlia Chaudhury and her team developed best practices for lease-to-purchase agreement programs for the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation to expand access to homeownership.


Beyond affordable housing, other projects involved working with nonprofits to tackle homelessness in vulnerable communities, evaluating electric vehicles across the region and improving air quality in the city.


Funds from the Office of the Provost’s Cougar Initiative to Engage helped start the program three years ago. Faculty members Pablo Pinto of the Hobby School and Germán Cubas and Piruz Saboury of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences are the program directors.

Experience government on Capitol Hill as a 2024 Leland Fellow

The Hobby School is accepting applications for the 2024 Leland Fellows in Washington, D.C. through Friday, Oct. 6. Leland Fellows assist with research, drafting legislation, attending committee hearings, working on special projects and with general office operations. Juniors and seniors with strong writing and interpersonal skills and a passion for public service are considered the ideal candidates.


"My advice to future interns would be to make the most of your internships and be as helpful as you can. No assignment is small. Be a reliable team player. Cultivate relationships with the staffers – they can become a professional reference. My best friends in Houston and D.C. are people I have interned with."  — Ana Montañez, 2016 Leland Fellows



Graduate candidate named to City of Houston Board

"I was interested in serving on the Houston Food Insecurity Board because the impact of food insecurity encompasses the very fabric of social stability, affecting areas such as housing affordability, transportation, employment and overall well-being."

Call for Hobby School Leadership Award Nominations

The Hobby School is seeking nominations for the 2023 Hobby School of Public Affairs Leadership Award. Awards will be presented to a former Hobby School intern (Civic Houston Intern, Harris Fellow, Hobby Fellow-Austin or Leland Fellow-Washington) and a graduate of the Certified Public Manager Program. The deadline to apply is Friday, Oct. 6.


Nominees should be distinguished in their profession, leaders in civic engagement and committed to improving the lives of others.


Nominate someone you know or nominate yourself to help shine the spotlight on the dedicated leaders in our community who are making a difference.




Advancement director joins Leadership Houston Class XLII

Whitmire supports the Hobby School and the Graduate College of Social Work with strategic fundraising efforts, donor relations and advisory board engagement.

Hobby School director appointed to Harris County commission

Hobby School Communications and Marketing Director Victoria Cordova was appointed to the Harris County LGBTQIA+ Commission, a newly created group to amplify the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community and promote equality in Harris County. Nominated by Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Cordova joins the first appointees to serve as an advisory board to the Commissioners Court on actionable recommendations to improve outcomes for LGBTQIA+ residents of Harris County.


Cordova's professional experience spans communications, higher education and local government. She started at the Hobby School in 2022. 

Dean’s office welcomes new executive administrative assistant

A Texas native, the University of Texas at Austin graduate is accomplished in the culinary arts, specializing in French cuisine. Salinas will assist with coordinating Dean Granato’s schedule and managing office business operations. Her office is in the Dean’s Suite, Bates Building, Suite 104. 

Remembering Francisco Cantú

We join the UH community in mourning the loss of a wonderful colleague and friend, Francisco Cantú, an associate professor in political science at the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Additionally, Cantú served as co-director of the Survey Research Institute and as a research associate for the Center for Public Policy at the Hobby School. He is remembered for his scholarship, kindness and passion for teaching and sharing his knowledge.

Hobby School in the News


A recent Hobby School survey led by researchers Renée Cross and Mark P. Jones, Houston Elections 2023, queried likely voters about the candidates and pressing policy issues surrounding the upcoming City of Houston election. The first report examines the mayoral and controller races in November, favorability ratings for the mayoral candidates and potential runoff scenarios in the contest for mayor, and the second report focuses on policy issues facing Houston. The reports attracted widespread regional media attention.


Texas Monthly, a national publication chronicling life in the Lone Star State, featured the characteristics of the top mayoral candidates following the first part of the Houston Elections 2023 survey identifying likely voters' top picks for Houston's next mayor. The reports' results were seen on prominent print, online, broadcast media and popular political blogs, including the Austin American-Statesman, Houston Landing, KHOU 11 Houston, FOX 26 Houston, Houston Public Media, the Houston Chronicle, Off the Kuff, The Texan and Axios Houston, among others, for a total of over 54 mentions for this project.


The Hobby School has more than 235 media mentions year to date.

Complete List of Hobby School Media

Hobby Happenings


Hobby School Happenings captures lectures, events, application 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.


Wednesday, Sept. 6, 9 a.m.

Houston Matters Political Roundup with Renée Cross

KUHF, News 88.7 

Listen Online


Friday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Civic Engagement Boot Camp

Heritage Room, Second Floor, Room 201, Bates Law Building



Tuesday, Sept. 19

National Voter Registration Day


Wednesday, Sept. 20, 12-1 p.m.

The Hobby Hour: The Fight for Democracy

Historian Jeremi Suri, University of Texas at Austin



Wednesday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m.

Houston Matters Political Roundup with Renée Cross

KUHF, News 88.7 

Listen Online


Thursday, Sept. 28, 4-6 p.m.

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership

Forging a More Humane Vision of Justice

Jonathan Rapping, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Gideon’s Promise

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion, M.D. Anderson Library


Wednesday, Sept. 30

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center Prize for Best Article on Ethics, Leadership and Public Policy

Article Nominations


Oct. 2-6

National Voter Education Week


Monday, Oct. 2, 12-1 p.m.

Freedom of the Press in an Era of Misinformation – Cognitive Problems, Legal Solutions

American Philosopher Tara Smith, University of Texas at Austin

Heritage Room, Second Floor, Room 201, Bates Law Building


Thursday, Oct. 5, 6-7:15 p.m.

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Distinguished Lecture

Believing: The First Step to Change with Professor and Legal Scholar Anita Hill

Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion, M.D. Anderson Library



Friday, Oct. 6

2024 Leland Fellows Application Deadline



Friday, Oct. 6

2023 Hobby School Leadership Awards Nomination Deadline
Nomination Form


Wednesday, Oct. 11, 12-1 p.m.

The Hobby Hour: Rediscovering Our Sacred Middle Ground

Author and Businessman Paul W. Hobby, Genesis Park



Thursday, Oct. 14, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Graduate Programs Information Session (Virtual)


Friday, Oct. 15

Graduate Programs Spring 2024 Priority Application Deadline



Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2-3:30 p.m.
Texas Industrial Energy Efficiency Network (TIEEN)
Legislative and Regulatory Developments in Texas Impacting Energy Production, Efficiency and Use

Webinar Registration


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