Rice University has announced a $15 million gift from philanthropists Rich and Nancy Kinder to expand research by the university's Institute for Urban Research in Houston and other major cities around the world.
The gift will fund a number of research initiatives in 2011, including the thirtieth annual Houston Area Survey, a detailed look at the metro area economy, population, and residents' life experiences, beliefs, and attitudes, as well as similar surveys in New York, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, and Mumbai; those surveys will be part of a new multidisciplinary Global Urban Initiatives project. The gift also will enable the institute to develop a Visiting Scholars and Urban Leaders program, which will bring together various leaders to write, work on policy papers, give lectures, and provide training and networking opportunities for Rice University students and community leaders.
The newly renamed Kinder Institute for Urban Research was created in February by the merger of the university's Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life and the Urban Research Center to conduct scientific research, sponsor educational programs, and engage in public outreach designed to foster a better understanding of pressing urban issues and the development of more humane and sustainable cities.
Rich Kinder, the chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan, one of the largest pipeline transportation and energy storage companies in North America, and his wife, Nancy, co-founded the Kinder Foundation to support education, urban green space, and other quality-of-life issues.
"The Kinder Institute will add immeasurably to the depth and breadth of our social sciences teaching and research at Rice," said Lyn Ragsdale, dean of the university's School of Social Sciences. "We are extremely grateful to the Kinders for both their gift and for their appreciation of the important role played by the growing diversity in our cities and our institutions."