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November 2021 Newsletter

Texas Legislature allocates $40 million for a new Hobby School building

Funding for a new Hobby School of Public Affairs building was included in the Texas Legislature’s third special session to improve University of Houston System campus facilities and infrastructure. $40 million for the new Hobby School structure is part of the overall $339,485,554 for “Capital Construction Assistance Projects” across the UH System.

“First rate schools typically possess first rate facilities. The Hobby School will be no exception," said Jim Granato, dean of the Hobby School. "Foremost in our mind will be engaging behavioral experts on a structure that supports and sustains a culture of collaboration, seamless cooperation, placing risk over stability, and innovation over the tried and true.”

News Release
Houston Chronicle, Fort Bend Star, The Defender

$1 million National Science Foundation Grant awarded to help food distribution during crisis

To help the Houston Food Bank better respond in times of emergencies, a team of nation-wide researchers, including the Hobby School’s joint faculty member Elizabeth Anderson-Fletcher, have been granted a $1 million Civic Innovation Challenge grant from the National Science Foundation. The pilot project will use artificial intelligence to identify gaps in equitable food acquisition and distribution during disasters such as the current COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather events. Fletcher is senior personnel on the team led by Principal Investigator Ionnis Kakadiaris, director of the UH Computational Biomedicine Lab, and joined by Hiba Baroud (Vanderbilt University, co-PI), Aron Laszka (UH, co-PI), Bruce Race (UH, co-PI), Casey Durand (UT Health, co-PI), Susie Gronseth (UH, Senior Personnel) and Kenia Way (Houston Food Bank, Senior Personnel).

“Using artificial intelligence, supply chain management principles and community data, this project will work to identify and attend to the most vulnerable populations during times of crisis; we have seen many in the Greater Houston Area,” said Anderson-Fletcher, associate professor of Supply Chain Management, Department of Decision and Information Sciences at the C.T. Bauer College of Business and Hobby School affiliated faculty member. “The Houston Food Bank is the nation’s largest food bank by distribution, working with over 1,500 partners to serve 93,000 households weekly across 18 in southeast Texas. The Hobby School is excited about the work that will help the community.”

November Hobby Hour: The 2020 Census & Redistricting

Of the roughly 4 million residents the state gained since 2010, 95% were people of color according to the 2020 Census. The new numbers set up a struggle for political control as state lawmakers redrew legislative districts. Join the next Hobby Hour: The Census and Redistricting, noon, Wednesday, Nov. 10 with voting, election and policy experts to discover how Texas’ growth is impacting district lines throughout the state.

Michael Adams, Professor of Political Science, Texas Southern University
Renée Cross, Senior Director, Hobby School of Public Affairs
Mark Jones, Rice University Fellow in Political Science, Senior Research Fellow,
Hobby School of Public Affairs
Richard Murray, Senior Research Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs
Register Here


Texas Trends Survey, a new UH-TSU collaboration

It has been fifty years since Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and Congressman Mickey Leland served the people of Texas with a common goal: to create a better state for everyone. In that spirit, the Hobby School and the Barbara Jordan - Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University partnership produced the first two reports in the Texas Trends Survey, a five-year project to study Texas’ changing population and opinions. Abortion and Transgender Student Athlete Policy and Election Reform and Redistricting address issues that dominated the Texas Legislature’s multiple sessions and resulted in SB9, HB2 and SB1 and new state and congressional maps.

Read the Reports

News Release: Abortion remains complex issue in Texas, New UH-TSU survey affirms
News Release: Extra hour for voting an easy win, but some election reform measures draw mild support

Economic impact study will inform Austin-area leaders as businesses rebound from the pandemic

To mitigate the economic fallout from the pandemic the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). To better understand how businesses have managed, the Austin Chamber of Commerce (ACC) and the Hobby School of Public Affairs conducted a study using a 2020 survey of 1,050 business owners in the Austin and Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and secondary PPP data. Findings on which industries suffered greater employee losses, how businesses navigated the loan process, which businesses thrived and which neighborhoods have bounced back better, and more, are included in the report. Principal investigators included the Hobby Schools Gail Buttorf, Maria P. Perez Argüelles, Pablo Pinto and Sunny Wong, and researchers Yuhsin Annie Hsu, Yewande O. Olapade, Savannah Sipole and Agustín Vallejo.


Civic internship program celebrates 25 years of student learning, public service

The Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP) was established 25 years ago by the Center for Public Policy and the Department of Political Science through the leadership of Drs. Richard Murray and Christopher Wlezien. Since then, more than 1,500 UH undergraduates have worked in local, state and federal government offices, with nonprofit organizations and on campaigns in the Houston region. CHIP students, alumni and friends are invited to join the Hobby School for a celebration of former and current Houston interns as well as a presentation of the 2020 and 2021 Hobby Leadership Awards at a reception 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18 at the Saint Arnold Brewing Company Beer Garden. Space is limited so RSVP by Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Fun Fact: CHIP was originally called the Local Government Internship Program

Hobby Prize for best published article announced by the Hobby School’s Elizabeth D. Rockwell’s Center on Ethics and Leadership

The Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership announced the winners of the inaugural Hobby Prize for Best Article on Ethics, Leadership, and Public Policy. The first or grand prize of $12,000 is awarded to Shannon Portillo, Domonic Bearfield and Norma M. Riccucci for their article, “The Disenfranchisement of Voters of Color: Redux, Public Integrity (2021).” The $3,000 second prize goes to Andreas Schmidt for Getting Real on Rationality—Behavioral Science, Nudging, and Public Policy, Ethics 2019.” See more about the Hobby Prize and its authors.

National Cheng Kung University and the Hobby School sign international agreement for research and student opportunities

The Hobby School has entered into a global collaboration with the number three U.S. News and World Report-ranked university in Taiwan – National Cheng Kung University (NCKU). The proposed initiatives, organized by Hobby School Professor Man Chiu “Sunny” Wong, will offer new student opportunities for collaborative education activities and prospects for increased faculty research. Global initiatives at the University of Houston offer students and faculty borderless learning and research engagement, enriching the experiences on both sides. Ching-Hsing Wang, a former Hobby School postdoctoral fellow and current assistant professor at NCKU, co-directed the effort.
“This agreement will streamline the admission process for exceptional undergraduate and graduate NCKU students who are interested in the Master of Public Policy program at the Hobby School,” said Wong. “We are pleased to provide a new opportunity to the University of Houston’s goals to offer internationally recognized opportunities for learning, discovery and engagement to a diverse population of students in a real-world setting.”

Harris County’s changing electoral landscape visualized in interactive map

Harris County — the largest county in Texas and the third largest in the nation — has experienced substantial changes in its electoral landscape during the 21st century. Once a Republican stronghold, Harris County today leans reliably Democratic. In order to clearly see the changes precinct-by-precinct, the Hobby School has created an interactive map to show the changes precinct by precinct.

Healthy Families conference includes policy session on women’s healthcare

Practitioners, policymakers and scholars will meet virtually at “"Healthy Parents, Healthy Kids: Policy, Practice, and Equity for Thriving Young Families," virtual conference 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 11, for a day of learning and action around healthcare disparities and equities issues faced by Texas families. Virtual sessions include strategies to address maternal mortality rates, actions to support new fathers, a debate and legislative analysis of health and health disparities for young children and new parents, and a close look at overall health equity and the outcomes associated across race and class.
Texas Representatives Donna Howard, chair of the Texas Women’s Health Caucus, and Toni Rose, sponsor of HB 133 for expanding postpartum care, healthcare equity advocate Rep. Garnet Coleman, and Rep. Shawn Thierry, maternal health advocate will meet for an afternoon roundtable discussion on the state’s policies and challenges.
Presented by the Hobby School’s Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership and the Center for Civic & Public Policy Improvement
Register Here


Pablo Pinto, director of the Hobby School’s Center for Public Policy, joined the Data for Gov Summit where experts explored the role data science is playing in government and how public sector decision-makers are leveraging data to drive progress and improve outcomes for their constituents. Professor Pinto joined “Enabling Successful Public-Private Partnerships” to discuss common challenges and best practices.

Associated faculty contribute expertise in technology and education

Please join the Hobby School in welcoming new associated faculty Catherine Horn and Chris Bronk. Horn’s research cuts across two areas affecting college access for and success outcomes of traditionally underserved students both in the U.S. and internationally.
Bronk has published extensively on internet censorship, online surveillance, border security, public diplomacy and critical infrastructure protection. His latest white paper with UH alumnus Hector Ocampo on cyberattacks on municipal governments can be found here.

Hobby School faculty and postdoctoral searches under way

The Hobby School is conducting searches for up to five faculty positions – three tenured or tenure-track faculty, and two Presidential Frontiers Faculty in sustainable energy policy and public health and health policy. UH Energy and the Hobby School are looking for a postdoctoral research fellow specializing in environmental policy with focus on the circular materials and circular economy. The Hobby School seeks to complement the collective expertise in theoretical, practical and analytical disciplines associated with public policy.

Hobby School Team effort garners welcome kits for refugee group

The Hobby School team, led by Gail Buttorf, collected goods and funds to assemble five welcome kits for incoming families leaving Afghanistan amidst the crisis in the South Asian country. The kits included household and personal items needed to help refugee families as they resettle in the Houston area through the local nonprofit, Houston Welcomes Refugees. Great job, Hobby School!


MPP students inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha Global National Honor Society

Congratulations to the newest Hobby School Pi Alpha Alpha honor society inductees. PAA is the global honor society for public affairs and public administration open to second-year students with high academic achievements. This year’s inductees include (from left to right): Matthew Mosely, Mariam Abdelmalak, Ana Silbas and Brad Selsberg. The society is organized by NASPAA: The Global Standard in Public Service Education.

Former intern, now Harris County Clerk, honored by Houston Black Chamber of Commerce

Former Mickey Leland Congressional Intern Teneshia Hudspeth was honored with the Mickey Leland Public Service Award by the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce (GHBC) for her long-standing commitment to the African-American community at the 27th Annual Pinnacle Awards. Hudspeth is the first African-American woman elected to serve as Harris County Clerk in the third-largest county in the nation and the largest county in the state. She has been with the Harris County Clerk’s office for more than 16 years, most recently serving as Chief Deputy before running for office in 2020.
“As a former Mickey Leland Congressional Intern, I am grateful and honored to have been selected to receive this prestigious award,” said Hudspeth. “I am blessed to be a product of The Honorable Leland legacy and I consider this to be a full circle moment, from being an intern to now receiving an award in his name.”


Congratulations to Sara Alhalabi (BS, Political Science ’20) for her new position as Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA) Government Affairs Coordinator. Alhalabi was a Hobby Fellows (‘19), Leland Fellow (’18) and Civic Houston Intern (’20). Houston’s residential construction and remodeling industry organization provides advocacy, education and meaningful services to benefit its members and the housing industry. The association interacts with the government, community and general public to enhance the business climate for its members, and to provide quality obtainable housing to the community it serves. High five, Sara!
2021 Civic Houston Intern Jason Perez is getting lots of experience in the office of Congressman Troy Nehls in Richmond, Texas. Perez is a graduating senior in political science who hopes to apply his experience to a career in politics and government. You’re off to a great start, Jason!
Hobby School alumna Paige Powell has accepted a new position as deputy director for Citizen’s Environmental Coalition, an alliance of organizations working for the environment and quality of life in the Houston-Galveston area. Powell is a 2020 Hobby School MPP graduate, former Civic Houston Intern and Certified Public Manager alumna (’17). Her professional focus is working in climate action, advocacy, education and policy to build more sustainable cities. Power move, Paige!


Mark Your Calendars

Thursday, Nov. 4, 4 PM
Richard Gelwick Endowed Lecture and Reception: Debate on Black Reparations
Rashawn Ray (University of Maryland, Brookings Institution) and Richard Epstein (NYU Law, University of Chicago and Hoover Institution)
Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library
Join Live    
Tuesday Nov. 9, 4 PM
Political Economy Speaker Series:
Individual and Collective Information Acquisition: An Experimental Study
Alessandro Lizzeri (Princeton University)
Co-sponsored with the UH Department of Economics

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 12 PM
November Hobby Hour: The Census and Redistricting
Michael Adams, Professor of Political Science, Texas Southern University
Renée Cross, Senior Director, Hobby School of Public Affairs
Mark Jones, Rice University Fellow in Political Science; Senior Research Fellow,
Hobby School of Public Affairs
Richard Murray, Senior Research Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs
Thursday, Nov. 11, 9 AM-2 PM
Healthy Parents, Healthy Kids: Policy, Practice, and Equity for Thriving Young Families
Sponsored by the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership and the Center for Civic and Public Policy Improvement
Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library

Thursday, Nov. 18, 6-8 PM,
Civic Houston Internship Program 25th Anniversary & Reception
Location: St. Arnold’s Beer Garden, 2000 Lyons

Friday, Nov. 19, 12 PM
Care Ethics in the Age of Precarity, Maurice Hamington, University of Oregon
Care Ethics Zoom Lecture Series
Tuesday, Nov. 30, 4 PM
Gerard Padró i Miquel, Yale University
Co-sponsored with the UH Department of Economics
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