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Richard Murray Scholarship

Dr. Richard Murray is a senior research fellow at the Hobby School of Public Affairs. A political scientist, Murray co-founded the Center for Public Policy, the precursor to the Hobby School of Public Affairs, in 1981, and served as the director of polling operations for nearly four decades. In addition to polling, Murray’s expertise includes election trends and practices, and partisan political change in Texas.

The Richard Murray Endowed Scholarship was established in 2008 for the purpose of honoring Professor Emeritus Dr. Richard Murray's service to the Houston community and over 50 years of teaching and research at the University of Houston. 

Richard Murray at City Hall

From left to right: Mrs. Elyse Lanier, former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier, Dr. Richard Murray, and Debbie Hartman-Murray

An Overview of Dr. Murray's Accomplishments

  • Taught political science at UH since 1966
  • Founded the Hobby Center for Public Policy (HCPP) in 1981 with a small group of UH faculty
  • Established the HCPP’s polling operations in 1981
  • Co-authored Pro-Growth Politics Change and Governance in Houston (1991)
  • Served as director of the HCPP from 1996-2006
  • Created the HCPP’s Houston Government Internship Program in 1996
  • Launched the computer assisted survey system in the Survey Research Institute in 2000
  • Awarded the Bob Lanier Chair in Urban Public Policy in 2004 

The Award 

The Richard Murray Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to an outstanding undergraduate or graduate student who shares a passion for politics and policy, has a strong academic commitment and demonstrates a dedication to public service. Private funds were raised to endow this scholarship.   

Eligibility Criteria 

The scholarship recipient(s) will be determined by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs Scholarship Committee. Criteria includes the following:

  • Scholarship prospect exhibits leadership qualities as determined by the Hobby School Scholarship Committee.
  • Scholarship applicant should have a strong academic commitment and demonstrate dedication to public service.
  • Scholarship applicant should demonstrate a passion for politics and policy.
  • Scholarship applicant can be a certified full-time undergraduate or graduate certificate or degree-seeking student in good standing at the University of Houston.
  • Scholarship recipient must maintain a GPA in accordance with the standards set by the Hobby School Scholarship Committee.
  • Scholarship recipient may accept other scholarships and grants in conjunction with the Dr. Richard Murray Scholarship.
  • Funds can be used to cover expenses for tuition, books, fees and/or supplies for the coming academic semester. Any expenses of a recipient in excess of the amount deposited must be borne by the student.


Applications are now being accepted for fall 2024. To apply, please complete the Richard Murray Scholarship application here.

The deadline to apply is Monday, September 23.

As part of the application process, you will need to include:

  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Two letters of recommendation from UH faculty members. A third letter of recommendation from a government office, campaign or non-profit organization will also be accepted
  • An official transcript from the University of Houston
  • Proof of financial need
  • Career Goals statement
  • The application is not complete without your signature

Congratulations to our fall 2023 Richard Murray Endowed Scholarship Recipients!

Fall 2023 Recipients

Alexia Aguilar
is a first-generation student majoring in public relations and double minoring in energy and sustainability and public leadership. Aguilar serves as president of the UH Public Relations Society of America Student Association and is a member of the UH Valenti Student Advisory Board and the Hobby School Undergraduate Council. She is also part of the Next Generation Leadership Academy for students seeking careers focused on public service and social impact. She was honored with the national 2023 Paul A. Volcker Internship Award for exploring public service through internships to gain skills that serve her community and nation. Aguilar has been a Civic Houston Intern in the office of Houston Council Member Edward Pollard and the Harris County Office of Emergency Management. During the summer, she interned for Outreach Strategists, a local public affairs firm.

Alexis Boehmer is a junior at the UH Honors College pursuing a degree in psychology. She was a Civic Houston Intern in the office of Vice Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Castex-Tatum, working in constituent services, communications and event research. On campus, Boehmer works as a coordinator for student workers in the UH Office of Admissions. She also serves as the president of UH’s Mock Trial Association, which focuses on teaching students real-world trial advocacy skills such as public speaking and different argumentation styles. Boehmer has worked with Deeds Not Words, an on-campus organization that galvanizes young voters through art, advocacy, and legislation. She was a 2023 Harris Fellow working full-time in the Harris County Department of Economic Equity and Opportunity, where she practiced research and data analysis to develop a better understanding of making sound public policy decisions.

Caitlyn Foret is a first-generation college graduate who obtained her undergraduate degree in strategic communication with a minor in political science with summa cum laude honors in 2023. Foret is a former communications officer and a National Leadership Team member for the Youth Advocacy Team. She served as a mentor at the UH Honors College and is a proud UH Law Center Pipeline program alumna. Foret previously served as the director of public relations and chief justice for the UH Student Government Association. In addition, she has completed extensive research on LGBTQ+ advocacy in advertising and politics and received two congressional certificates for her involvement in the community. In the spring of 2023, Foret was a Hobby School Civic Houston Intern for Houston Crackdown, a division of the Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. She is a J.D. candidate at the UH Law Center and worked in the Harris County Attorney's Office as a Harris Fellow.

Enrique Garcia is a second-year Master of Public Policy candidate. He graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. Garcia is a student ambassador through the Hobby School's Graduate Student Advisory Committee. Outside of campus, he serves as a constituent services representative in the district office of Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia. He believes that public service is essential and hopes to utilize his passion for economic policy to better assist communities with high rates of financial illiteracy. He is a member of Pi Alpha Alpha, the global honor society for public affairs and administration professionals.

Gabriela Hamdieh is a junior public policy major with a human development and family sciences minor and a designation with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance certification program. She is a member of the Next Generation Leadership Academy and the Houston Scholars program. She is a Civic Houston Intern in the City of Houston Mayor's Office of Economic Development. Hamdieh serves on the UH Student Program Board and works in the UH Student Business Services Department. She developed research skills in the UH Houston Early Research Experience and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, focusing on affordable housing, public spaces and inclusive community planning efforts. Hamdieh recently completed an internship at The Trevor Project.

Cyrus Hosseini is a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in applied economics. After graduating with a major in economics and a minor in computer science in December 2022, he worked in Austin as a Hobby Fellow during Texas' 88th Legislative Session. On campus, Hosseini served as president of the UH College Democrats and Third Ward region leader for Harris County Young Democrats while volunteering for local and statewide political campaigns. Hosseini is the constituent services director for State Representative Ann Johnson and serves on the Harris County Democratic Party's youth engagement committee.

Saron Regassa is a junior majoring in public policy at the Honors College and serves as a student government senator. She has interned at the Citizens Environmental Coalition, working with data management and analysis, and at Harris County, working with environmental policies. She is interested in transformative research and designing effective policy. Regassa is an Honors College Frameworks Scholar, a Sumners Foundation scholarship recipient for demonstrating civic responsibility and leadership, and an Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center Scholar for her ethics and public policy work.

Drew Tonjes is a second-year graduate candidate pursuing dual degrees in social work and public policy. During the 88th Texas Legislative Session, the first-generation college student worked as a policy analyst for the Texas Legislative Study Group as part of the Austin Legislative Internship Program. She completed internships at the East Harris County Empowerment Council for the Hobby School CONNECT program and the Houston Policy Practice Placement Initiative in the UH Graduate College of Social Work. Tonjes is the founder and co-chair of the UH Payment for Placements (UH P4P) student organization, a nationwide movement calling for all social work students to be paid for their practicum placements.

Veronica Nwanna is a senior in the Honors College at the University of Houston, majoring in journalism with a minor in laws, values and policy. Deeply influenced by her Nigerian heritage and passion for social justice, Nwanna hopes to use her education to create positive change. As a Pre-law Society, Nigerian Student Association and Student Government Association member, she has developed organizational management skills, advocates for minority students, and promotes diversity and inclusion on campus. She is a former Civic Houston Intern with the Acres Homes Community Advocacy Group. Acceptance into the Houston Early Research Experience and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship programs furthered broadened her research experience.

View Past Recipients