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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Administration

State Sen. Kirk Watson to resign from senate and become Hobby school founding dean


Originally elected to the Texas Senate in 2006, Sen. Kirk Watson has since been reelected four times and in 2019 was chosen by his colleagues as president pro tempore for the 86th Legislative session. | Courtesy of UH

Originally elected to the Texas Senate in 2006, Sen. Kirk Watson has since been reelected four times and in 2019 was chosen by his colleagues as president pro tempore for the 86th Legislative session. | Courtesy of UH

State Sen. Kirk Watson will resign from the Texas State Senate to become the founding dean of the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs.

Watson, an Austin Democrat and the city’s former mayor, will part ways with the Texas Senate on April 30 and will then begin working at the University.

“Only a unique opportunity to serve this state — and a compelling platform for that service — would cause me to leave,” Watson said in a statement about his resignation. “This is a chance to build a world-class public affairs and policy school essentially from the ground up.”

Watson feels the Hobby School of Public Affairs will help define and lead this century’s public policy education, activities and outcomes at every level of government and across private and non-profit sectors.

“It is transformative work at a creative and ambitious university, located in one of the country’s largest and most diverse cities,” Watson said.

Originally elected to the Texas Senate in 2006, Watson has since been reelected four times and in 2019 was chosen by his colleagues as president pro tempore for the 86th Legislative session.

Watson also served as Austin’s mayor from 1997 until 2001.

“I love the people of Austin and Central Texas, and I want to say thank you for entrusting me to be both your mayor and your state senator for all these years,” Watson said on Twitter.

The state senator is thankful to President Renu Khator and Provost Paula Myrick Short for their confidence in him.

Houston, to Watson, has an impactful role in health care, energy, education, culture and other sectors that affect Texans. The state senator believes the Texas is better off because of the UH’s efforts.

“The city provides a tremendous point of leverage for the school’s vision — and the urgency to realize it,” Watson said.

Watson believes the timing of his resignation should allow a reasonable amount of time before a special election and minimize the time that his district, Senate District 14, will be without a senator.

The resignation will also provide a reasonable amount of time for the next senator to prepare for the 2021 legislative session, Watson said.

“I want to thank you for inviting me to be a part of your lives and for all the work we’ve done together to bring progress to our community, including some really transformational programs and projects,” Watson said.

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