For years, the sports memorabilia which lines the walls of Edgar Colón’s office was a reminder of one of his passions, a sports-minded diversion from the financial negotiations he specializes in as a leading Houston attorney.
But Colón, a University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business alum who holds five degrees from UH, including an MBA from Bauer, was recently appointed to a high-profile position closely aligned with his interests and abilities.
As chairman of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation, Colón is heading up the group charged with deciding the future of Houston’s iconic Astrodome and the rest of Reliant Park. The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation operates and develops various public facilities at Reliant Park, including the Astrodome and Reliant Stadium. The corporation is a public, not-for-profit corporation overseen by a five-member board of directors appointed by the Harris County Commissioners Court. “The Sports and Convention Corporation will soon be helping the county decide what to do about various development and transportation issues at Reliant Park, including the future of the Astrodome,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said. “These are extremely important issues for Harris County, and I’m glad Edgar has agreed to serve his neighbors in such an important role.”
“As of right now I am on what I call a listening tour,” Colón said during an interview in July. “I am talking with many folks about what is it they would like to see happen with the Astrodome. My marching orders are to do what is best for the taxpayers of Harris County. There is a close to $4 billion investment the county has made, so we have to generate revenue from these properties.”
Colón’s expertise in studying financial proposals makes him an ideal candidate for the job. He says many of the ideas submitted since 2003, when the process began, haven’t included feasibility studies. “It’s not just having a great idea but having the financials in order,” he says. Bauer College Dean Arthur Warga has extended faculty expertise and resources as Colón continues to make his assessments. “A lot of people have stepped up and offered to help,” he says.
Ironically – or not so ironically when you consider that UH has always been an integral part of the city of Houston’s history and legacy – another alum, William Sherrill, (’50), played a role similar to Colon’s 40 years ago when the first Astrodome proposal was taking shape (see Go To Guy). Early in his career, Sherrill worked up feasibility studies for Judge Roy Hofheinz, and one of them was for that landmark project.
Colón says he is intrigued by the UH connection that spans several decades. “I think it highlights the great contribution that UH has made to our community,” he says.
Colón’s first association with UH was through his father, Jesus Colón, who earned a doctoral degree here in 1964. The elder Colón cultivated a friendship with his dissertation adviser, who regularly visited the family in Puerto Rico while Edgardo was growing up. Dr. Franklin Stovall, the adviser, began recruiting Colón when he was still in high school, and Colón went on to attend UH beginning in the late 1970s and continuing through each of the last four decades, witnessing several waves of growth on campus.
Bauer’s profile has never been more impressive than at the present time, he says.
“As an alum, you see with great pride how the quality of programs and national rankings have increased over the years to make Bauer one of the premier business programs in the country,” Colón says. “I’m very impressed with students coming out of both the undergraduate and graduate programs.”
Colón’s firsthand knowledge of recent Bauer graduates comes from his tenure as Chairman of the Board of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2006 and 2007. One of his initiatives was to start student chamber chapters at all Houston college campuses. He also created paid student internships at the chamber while Chairman of the Board. The efforts were designed to recruit the next generation of chamber leaders, but students from UH, in particular, have “exceeded expectations and really have become the ambassadors of the chamber,” he says. A few have proven so valuable that the Chamber hired them as permanent employees. And now, when corporations come looking for bilingual job candidates, the Chamber has a pool of highly skilled and motivated recent graduates – many from Bauer – to refer to them.
“The good thing about it is that the students UH is producing are an easy sell,” Colón says. “They’re a breath of fresh air and they’re ready to take on the world. The big corporate sponsors realize the talent is there.”
Colón, who has advocated for more Latinos serving on executive boards and in other leadership positions in Houston, says his experiences with Bauer students have given him high hopes.
“I am extremely excited about the talent of our young students and young professionals. And I am extremely excited about the future leadership of this city,” he says. “We’ve got people coming up in the ranks and can start developing the next generation of leaders. It’s a matter of passing the torch with the talent that is coming up. We are developing a very deep bench.”
With Colón’s baseball metaphor, the conversation comes full circle. Colón’s own appointment to the Harris County position represents his stepping up to the plate for the city of Houston. But he downplays his role in making Houston history. “The most important thing is having a project that is going to be successful, that makes financial sense and maximizes revenue for the complex,” Colón says. “The big criteria is that we have a viable project that makes the most sense.”
More on Edgardo Colón:
- He and his father Jesus may be the only father-son team with doctoral degrees from UH.
- Dr. Jesus Colón was one of the founders of the Houston Alumni Organization’s first chapter located outside the U.S., in Puerto Rico.
By Julie Bonnin
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.
About the Bauer College of Business
The C.T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C.T. Bauer College of Business.