The University of Houston Honors College Great Conversation fundraiser is one event at which plenty of talk is encouraged — all night long. And that explains the vibrant din that filled Houston Country Club on an evening when students, professors and patrons sat together and put their gray matter to work.
Following the short introduction by emcee Steve Smith and brief remarks by dinner chairs Tamara and Matthew Steele, the expert table hosts stirred up the engines of their tablemates' imaginations by throwing out all manner of subjects ranging from the appeal of Nordic noir to Argentine wines to the spirit of Cajun Louisiana.
Honors College Dean Bill Monroe and a host of university professors and leaders sat down at 35 tables of 10 for the spirited evening that raised a record $314,000 for scholarships to the prestigious UH college. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and wife Tricia were intrigued by political analyst Richard Murray's take on President Obama's second administration while the Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management's Aaron Corsi discussed the craft beer movement.
There was something for everyone whether interests ranged from the politics of Egypt with insights from architect Professor Shafik Rifaat to the current U.S. political divide as discussed by Alison Leland to Ernie Manouse's take on Downton Abbey and the state of PBS.
Key to the evening's proceedings were Great Conversation founders Honors College graduate Jane Cizik and former dean Ted Estess, under whose tenure the successful fundraiser was inaugurated. The two were responsible for launching this delicious feast for the mind in 1993.
Others partaking of the thoughtful evening were Cathy and Dr. Gary Brock, Anne and Dr. John Mendelsohn, Bob Cizik, Adele Manouse, Kimberly and Trey Wilkinson, Mark Leifeste, Cathy Moerer and Robin and Walter Bartel.