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In Memoriam: Dr. Kent Portney

Published: June 15, 2020
Kent Portney
Prof. Kent Portney

Professor Kent Portney, a Texas A&M Energy Institute Faculty Affiliate and member of the Interdisciplinary Academic Council, passed away suddenly on Saturday, June 13, 2020. Dr. Portney came to the Bush School’s Department of Public Service and Administration in 2014. He was appointed director of the Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy in September 2016 after serving two years as a Senior Fellow in the Institute. In 2017 he was named a Texas A&M University Presidential Impact Fellow, and in 2018 he was named the Bob Bullock Chair in Government and Public Policy. 

His scholarly drive and passion for environmental issues was evident in everything he did. Just in the last year, Dr. Portney participated in the Resilience and Climate Change Cooperative Project (RCCCP) with the Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities in TAMU’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Planning; in the TAMU Institute for Sustainable Communities; in the TAMU Energy Institute’s Interdisciplinary Academic Council; in the Food-Energy-Water Nexus Initiative Leadership Team; in the Water Research Group; and in the Hydrologic Science and Management Program through TAMU’s College of Geosciences.  He represented the Bush School on TAMU’s Council of Principal Investigators and was himself a principal investigator for multiple projects, including the “Gene Drive Applications to Agriculture in Texas: Knowledge, Perceptions, and Values Program Area Priority: Social Implications of Emerging Technologies,” and the “Pathways to Sustainable and Socially Equitable Transitions to Urban Water Security: Desalination and Water Reuse Challenges in the 21st Century.” He also served as Associated Editor for Climate Change and as a member of the editorial board for Urban Science. 

Before joining the Bush School, Dr. Portney spent more than 30 years on the faculty at Tufts University where he served as department chair in political science and directed the Graduate Program in Public Policy and Citizen Participation. Most recently, he was director of the Water and Research Program at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Florida State University, his master’s from the University of Connecticut, and his bachelor’s from Rutgers University, where his studies focused on public administration and public policy. His 1993 book with Jeffrey M. Berry and Ken Thomson, The Rebirth of Urban Democracy, earned two awards from the American Political Science Association: the Gladys Kammerer Award for “Best Book in American National Politics;” and the Urban Politics Section’s “Best Book in Urban Politics.” 

Dr. Portney’s obituary

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