Director’s Address – March 2015

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Bill Fulton | @BillFultonVta | March 23, 2015

The lovely spring weather we are having here in Houston this month is a good reminder that the annual Kinder Institute luncheon is coming up on April 30th at the Hilton Americas.

The Kinder luncheon is always a can’t-miss event here in Houston. The main event, as always, will be Stephen Klineberg’s presentation of the results from the 2015 Kinder Houston Area Survey. It’s the 34th year in a row that we have done the Houston Area Survey, and hearing Steve deliver the results is always a treat.

Not only is Steve a terrific speaker, but the story that the survey results have told over the past few years is riveting: Houston has become the most diverse city in the nation. It remains a city of tremendous opportunity but faces significant challenges in the years ahead. I sincerely hope you can attend the luncheon in order to learn about the latest chapter in this compelling urban drama.

But that’s not all you’ll hear about if you attend the annual Kinder Institute luncheon. We’ll also be rolling out the broad outlines of our new, expanded program here at the Kinder Institute.

Since I arrived last fall, we have been working on what we call “The Path Forward”. It’s a three-year plan to build on our previous successes and establish the Kinder Institute as the most important urban think tank in the Sunbelt and one of the most important in the country.

We have a very strong base on which to build. The Kinder Houston Area Survey is the longest-running survey of city residents anywhere in the country, providing a unique perspective on how Houston has changed over time – and how our residents’ attitudes have changed as well. The Houston Education Research Consortium is working collaboratively with the Houston Independent School District, using another big database to improve student performance. The Urban Health Program is examining the relationship between air pollution, neighborhoods, and individual residents’ medical conditions throughout Houston. And the Global Cities program is building strong relationships with other institutes across the world, ranging from China to Sweden.

Our expanded program will cover all these topics and more. We will expand our research to cover new urban issues we haven’t dealt with before. As I have said in this space before, we will collaborate with researchers across campus, elsewhere in Houston, and around the country in order to maximize our influence. We will frame all of this research in ways that people in the real world can understand and we will focus on getting the ideas out to the civic and political leaders who can act, rather than focusing primarily on academic publications. And we will do something most think tanks don’t do: We will work with those civic and political leaders to make sure that good ideas get implemented in order to make both Houston and other cities better places to live.

It’s an exciting time for cities in general and Houston in particular. In the months and years ahead, the Kinder Institute will play a pivotal role in making Houston a more successful urban place. And I can’t wait to tell you more about it – so I hope you will be able to join us at our annual luncheon. For more details, just go here: Kinder.rice.edu/luncheon

Regards,

William (Bill) Fulton

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