Gift Will Help Sustain Rice Urban Research Institute

The institute that puts together the annual Houston area survey is about to receive a tremendous financial gift — and a new name. Rice University is set to formally announce later this afternoon a multi-million dollar endowment that will support expanded research on how Houston is changing, and how those changes compare with other cities around the world. David Pitman has more.

Houston philanthropists Rich and Nancy Kinder will give $15 million to Rice University to support the Institute for Urban Research.

"As an endowment that will establish a permanent presence of the institute as a feature of Rice University in perpetuity."

Sociology Professor Dr. Steven Klineberg co-directs the institute.  He says the Kinders' money will give researchers peace of mind in knowing the institute will be around decades from now.

"We'll still need additional funding for major projects that we undertake, for fellowships, for visiting scholarships, and things of that sort.  But this gives the permanence of an endowment."

Dr. Klineberg says the gift also allows the institute to provide the most accessible and relevant information on the changes Houston is going through.

"And at the same time, look at other comparable cities facing similar challenges around the country and the world, and asking 'what can we learn from these cities?'  What are the differences and similarities in the way Houstonians experience these transformations?"

In March of next year, the Kinder Institute for Urban research will conduct the 30th annual Houston Area Survey — the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation, focusing on changes to the economy, population, life experiences, beliefs, and attitudes.

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David Pitman

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