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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Activities & Organizations

Students, faculty enjoy night of Great Conversation


From left to right: Honors College Dean William Monroe, alumnus Aris Economon and former Honors College Dean Ted Estess at the 2012 dinner. | Courtesy of Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design


Andrew Davis had plenty of dinner conversation topics: “New Mexico: Land of Enchantment,” “Intercollegiate Athletics,” “Reinventing Retirement,” and “Fifty Shades of Red: UH Facts and Stories.” Instead, the Moores School of Music director chose something a little less serious — “Whiskies of the World.”

“My topic, interestingly enough, is Scotch whisky,” Davis said. “I’m fortunate enough to be able to discuss a long-time hobby of mine with, again, interested members of the community who want to learn about a wide variety of subjects and take them seriously.”

The Honors College hosted Davis along with hundreds of other professors, students and discussion options in its 24th annual “The Great Conversation” fundraiser Wednesday at the Houston Country Club in dedication to the college’s efforts to support the education of talented undergraduates.

“We created The Great Conversation not only to secure additional funding for the Honors College, but also as a way to embody and manifest something fundamental to the college and to the University,” said Ted Estess, former Honors College dean and the dinner’s honorary speaker. “Which is to foster intelligent, civil conversation about things that matter to our city, our country, our very lives.”

The Great Conversation is of an evening of gourmet food and stimulating discussions facilitated by  faculty. It was conceived by Honors College alumna Jane Cizik, who envisioned the fundraiser as “a vehicle to share the Honors College’s talents with the community.”

Every year, more than 300 people attend this award-winning event, which brings in proceeds benefiting scholarships and educational programs. The format of the night is designed to engage guests in active participation of the topic for their assigned table. Topics are varied and chosen from all facets of life, including arts and literature, history, religion and public policy.

Honors College Assistant Dean Christine LeVeaux-Haley has participated in the special evening for several years and has many fond memories she shares with her colleagues and students.

“My favorite aspect of the Great Conversation is that it is fully interactive,” LeVeaux-Haley said. “This is a fundraiser like no other. Donors are provided with a list of conversationalist and table topics, then they select a table based on their interests. This leads to lively discussions on various topics, ranging from politics and great books to dogs and whiskey.”

LeVeaux-Haley considers the program to be educational for attendees and organizers alike.

“The attendees walk away having learned a little something, given their opinion and thoughts on an issue and contributed to the education of an Honors College student,” LeVeaux-Haley said. “It is a fun-filled night with a purpose.”

For Estess, who founded the Honors College, the dinner has been a long-standing success.

“I look forward to continuing such conversation and to seeing many friends who return year after year,” Estess said. “The evening has the spirit of a large family reunion in which all members of the family are good friends.”


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