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The UH Honors College to Host Its 27th Annual Great Conversation in the Newly Renovated Fertitta Center

By Daniel Wallace
March 20, 2019 

On March 30, for the first time in its 27-year history, The Great Conversation will be held on the University of Houston campus, on the floor of the new Fertitta Center. This award-winning fundraising gala, hosted by the Honors College at the University of Houston, supports student scholarships and features dinner conversations led by the University’s outstanding faculty, alumni, and administrators. 

“Our signature fundraiser is meant to highlight UH faculty and students and to invite the greater Houston community into the conversations we have in our classrooms every day,” said William Monroe, dean of the Honors College. “We’re thrilled to finally bring the event to the beautiful University of Houston campus.” 

This year, conversationalists will cover more than 35 topics ranging from political humor to popular culture. Dr. Ruth Bush, an associate dean in the UH’s new College of Medicine, along with Dr. Helen Valier, director of the Honors College Medicine & Society Program, will co-lead a table called “Healthcare Fit for Heroes: The Role of the Veterans Health Administration in Serving Those Who Serve.” Michael Dimock (’90), UH alumnus and president of the Pew Research Center, will host a table called “Trust, Facts, and Democracy: Navigating Information in the Modern Era.” UH Regent Gerald McElvy will co-host a table on the importance of division I athletics at a top university. 

Another important feature of this year’s event—a very special guest, alumnus Hakeem Olajuwon (’63). 

“We hope that Hakeem enjoys this one-of-a-kind return to the court where his storied career began,” said Monroe. “We’re honored to have him in attendance at the Fertitta Center’s first gala.”   

Over 300 of Houston’s most intellectually curious entrepreneurs, business leaders, and benefactors from various fields are expected to attend. The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception. University of Houston System Chancellor Renu Khator will open the program at 7:30 p.m., followed by a brief video. During the multi-course dinner, guests will participate in a facilitated conversation on a topic of their choosing. Guests are encouraged to indicate their preferences on their response cards. 

To view a full list of topics and to purchase tickets, visit

The Honors College at the University of Houston is a nationally recognized learning community. As a vibrant, leading presence within the University, the Honors College attracts highly talented and motivated students and educators to a collegial environment where tradition is honored and possibilities are both created and realized. The Great Conversation has the same goal as the Honors College itself: to foster thoughtfulness by engaging people in disciplined discussion about things that matter.