About the Rockwell LectureThe Elizabeth D. Rockwell Lecture on Ethics and Leadership

Firmly believing that universities should play host to important discussions about leadership and ethics, Elizabeth D. Rockwell created the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Lecture on Ethics and Leadership at the University of Houston in 2004.

Rockwell, who began her association with the University of Houston in 1938 as a student, continued to support UH as one of its most generous benefactors, up until her death in January 2011. A widely respected expert in retirement, estate, investment and tax planning, Rockwell gained national recognition for her work with IRA rules and regulations. She later became executive director of the Private Client Division of CIBC Oppenheimer Corp, retiring in 2001. As her career spanned decades, she never forgot her UH roots.

Rockwell created and funded the lecture series as a way to bring a focus on ethics to the community, and as a means of bringing nationally prominent guest speakers to campus. Since its creation, the series has included many speakers of national prominence, including:

  • Dr. Mae Jemison in 2013: Mae C. Jemison blasted into orbit aboard thespace shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992, the first woman of color to go into space. Dr. Jemison served as an astronaut for six years before resigning from NASA. As a science mission specialist she conducted experiments in life sciences, material sciences and was a co-investigator of the Bone Cell Research experiment.
  • Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson in 2011: Astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson strives to provide an accessible look at the science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe as host of PBS’s educational science television show, NOVA scienceNOW. He is the first occupant of the Frederic P. Rose Directorship of the Hayden Planetarium and was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on two commissions studying the future of U.S. space exploration policy. He spoke on the past, present and future of America in space.
  • Dr. Nathan Wolfe in 2010: Dr. Nathan Wolfe, founder and director of the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative, spent years tracking viruses from sub-Saharan Africa to Southeast Asia with a goal of identifying new strains to prevent pandemics, such as HIV. In his lecture, Wolfe discussed viral forecasting, and the hunt for the next killer virus
  • Thomas L. Friedman in 2008: Thomas L. Friedman, a renowned author and journalist who is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, discussed how the U.S. can regain its international stature by taking the lead in alternative energy and environmentalism.
  • Dr. Francis S. Collins and Christine Rosen in 2008: Dr. Francis S. Collins, then the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and Christine Rosen, senior editor of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society, presented the concluding lecture of the 15-part Medical Ethics and the Holocaust series presented by the Holocaust Museum Houston. They discussed the question of what happens when DNA tampering leads to genetic discrimination – the type of discrimination used against victims of the Holocaust more than 60 years ago.
  • David Gergen in 2006: Gergen, then editor-at-large at U.S. News & World Report also was director for the Center for Public Research at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He served as an adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, as communications director for President Ronald Reagan, and as the foreign policy and domestic affairs adviser to President Bill Clinton. Gergen lectured on the 21st Century view of ethics and leadership.