State Senator Resigns To Lead University Of Houston Hobby School Of Public Affairs

Chris Fox
February 19, 2020 - 7:28 am
Texas Capitol building,



AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - Texas State Senator Kirk Watson Tuesday morning informed Governor Abbott that he was resigning from the Texas Senate, effective midnight, April 30, 2020.

Watson accepted the position as the Founding Dean of the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs.

Watson said he was drawn to the job for the “extraordinary opportunity” to shape the study of public policy at a program focused on practical skills and data-driven research in a city well suited to be a living laboratory for addressing critical issues affecting the state.

First elected to the Texas Senate in 2006, Senator Watson has been reelected four times. He represented most of Travis County and all of Bastrop County. He served as Austin mayor from 1997 to 2001.

UH President Renu Khator said Watson brings a deep background in civic and legislative engagement to the role of dean. “Kirk Watson has participated in public policy from many vantage points,” Khator said. “That experience gives him a broad perspective on how public policy is made and how it can be applied in an academic setting to forge practical solutions to many of the greatest challenges our state faces today. He is an excellent choice to be the Hobby School of Public Affairs’ first dean.”

“I love the people of Austin and Central Texas. They’ve encouraged, supported and inspired me for decades,” said Watson. “I thank them for their trust, for electing me Mayor and State Senator, and for allowing and inviting me, time and again, to participate and play a role in their lives.”

The Texas Democratic Party was quick to respond to Watson’s announcement. Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa released the following statement:

“On behalf of all Texas Democrats, we are grateful for Senator Watson’s tireless service to Austin and his legacy of service to our state. I want to thank and congratulate him and his wife, Liz. Texas Democrats wish them well as they embark on the next chapter of their lives together. We can’t wait to see what's next.”

The Hobby School includes faculty drawn from the fields of political science, economics, political philosophy and psychology, among others. It offers a master of public policy degree, as well as several dual graduate degrees through partnerships with other academic colleges at UH, and its public polling and other research has been nationally recognized