William Marsh Rice University, commonly known as Rice University, is a private research university in Houston, Texas. It is situated on a 300-acre campus near the Houston Museum District and is adjacent to the Texas Medical Center.
|William M. Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art (1912–1960)|
|Motto||Letters, Science, Art|
|Type||Private research university|
|Endowment||$6.16 billion (2020)|
|680 full time|
|Students||7,282 (Fall 2019)|
|Undergraduates||3,989 (Fall 2019)|
|Postgraduates||3,293 (Fall 2019)|
|Campus||Urban, 300 acres (120 ha)|
|Colors||Blue and gray|
|NCAA Division I – C-USA|
|Mascot||Sammy the Owl|
Opened in 1912 after the murder of its namesake William Marsh Rice, Rice is a research university with an undergraduate focus. Its emphasis on education is demonstrated by a small student body and 6:1 student-faculty ratio. The university has a very high level of research activity, with $156 million in sponsored research funding in 2019. Rice is noted for its applied science programs in the fields of artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, signal processing, space science, and nanotechnology. In 2010, it was ranked first in the world in materials science research by Times Higher Education (THE). Rice has been a member of the Association of American Universities since 1985 and is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity".
The university is organized into eleven residential colleges and eight schools of academic study, including the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the School of Social Sciences, School of Architecture, Shepherd School of Music and the School of Humanities. Rice's undergraduate program offers more than fifty majors and two dozen minors, and allows a high level of flexibility in pursuing multiple degree programs. Additional graduate programs are offered through the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business and the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Rice students are bound by the strict Honor Code, which is enforced by a student-run Honor Council.
Rice competes in 14 NCAA Division I varsity sports and is a part of Conference USA, often competing with its cross-town rival the University of Houston. Intramural and club sports are offered in a wide variety of activities such as jiu jitsu, water polo, and crew.
The university's alumni include more than two dozen Marshall Scholars and a dozen Rhodes Scholars. Given the university's close links to NASA, it has produced a significant number of astronauts and space scientists. In business, Rice graduates include CEOs, founders of Fortune 500 companies and 3 billionaires; in politics, alumni include congressmen, cabinet secretaries, judges, and mayors. Two alumni have won the Nobel Prize.
Rice University's history began with the demise of Massachusetts businessman William Marsh Rice, who had made his fortune in real estate, railroad development and cotton trading in the state of Texas. In 1891, Rice decided to charter a free-tuition educational institute in Houston, bearing his name, to be created upon his death, earmarking most of his estate towards funding the project. Rice's will specified the institution was to be "a competitive institution of the highest grade" and that only white students would be permitted to attend. On the morning of September 23, 1900, Rice, age 84, was found dead by his valet, Charles F. Jones, and was presumed to have died in his sleep. Shortly thereafter, a large check made out to Rice's New York City lawyer, signed by the late Rice, aroused the suspicion of a bank teller, due to the misspelling of the recipient's name. The lawyer, Albert T. Patrick, then announced that Rice had changed his will to leave the bulk of his fortune to Patrick, rather than to the creation of Rice's educational institute. A subsequent investigation led by the District Attorney of New York resulted in the arrests of Patrick and of Rice's butler and valet Charles F. Jones, who had been persuaded to administer chloroform to Rice while he slept. Rice's friend and personal lawyer in Houston, Captain James A. Baker, aided in the discovery of what turned out to be a fake will with a forged signature. Jones was not prosecuted since he cooperated with the district attorney, and testified against Patrick. Patrick was found guilty of conspiring to steal Rice's fortune and he was convicted of murder in 1901 (he was pardoned in 1912 due to conflicting medical testimony). Baker helped Rice's estate direct the fortune, worth $4.6 million in 1904 ($132 million today), towards the founding of what was to be called the Rice Institute, later to become Rice University. The board took control of the assets on April 29 of that year.
In 1907, the Board of Trustees selected the head of the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy at Princeton University, Edgar Odell Lovett, to head the Institute, which was still in the planning stages. He came recommended by Princeton's president, Woodrow Wilson. In 1908, Lovett accepted the challenge, and was formally inaugurated as the Institute's first president on October 12, 1912. Lovett undertook extensive research before formalizing plans for the new Institute, including visits to 78 institutions of higher learning across the world on a long tour between 1908 and 1909. Lovett was impressed by such things as the aesthetic beauty of the uniformity of the architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, a theme which was adopted by the Institute, as well as the residential college system at Cambridge University in England, which was added to the Institute several decades later. Lovett called for the establishment of a university "of the highest grade," "an institution of liberal and technical learning" devoted "quite as much to investigation as to instruction." [We must] "keep the standards up and the numbers down," declared Lovett. "The most distinguished teachers must take their part in undergraduate teaching, and their spirit should dominate it all."
Establishment and growth
In 1911, the cornerstone was laid for the Institute's first building, the Administration Building, now known as Lovett Hall in honor of the founding president. On September 23, 1912, the 12th anniversary of William Marsh Rice's murder, the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Letters, Science, and Art began course work with 59 enrolled students, who were known as the "59 immortals," and about a dozen faculty. After 18 additional students joined later, Rice's initial class numbered 77, 48 male and 29 female. Unusual for the time, Rice accepted coeducational admissions from its beginning, but on-campus housing would not become co-ed until 1957.
Three weeks after opening, a spectacular international academic festival was held, bringing Rice to the attention of the entire academic world.
Per William Marsh Rice's will and Rice Institute's initial charter, the students paid no tuition. Classes were difficult, however, and about half of Rice's students had failed after the first 1912 term. At its first commencement ceremony, held on June 12, 1916, Rice awarded 35 bachelor's degrees and one master's degree. That year, the student body also voted to adopt the Honor System, which still exists today. Rice's first doctorate was conferred in 1918 on mathematician Hubert Evelyn Bray.
The Founder's Memorial Statue, a bronze statue of a seated William Marsh Rice, holding the original plans for the campus, was dedicated in 1930, and installed in the central academic quad, facing Lovett Hall. The statue was crafted by John Angel. In 2020, Rice students petitioned the university to take down the statue due to the founder's history as slave owner.
During World War II, Rice Institute was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program, which offered students a path to a Navy commission.
The residential college system proposed by President Lovett was adopted in 1958, with the East Hall residence becoming Baker College, South Hall residence becoming Will Rice College, West Hall becoming Hanszen College, and the temporary Wiess Hall becoming Wiess College.
In 1959, the Rice Institute Computer went online. 1960 saw Rice Institute formally renamed William Marsh Rice University. Rice acted as a temporary intermediary in the transfer of land between Humble Oil and Refining Company and NASA, for the creation of NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center (now called Johnson Space Center) in 1962. President John F. Kennedy then made a speech at Rice Stadium reiterating that the United States intended to reach the moon before the end of the decade of the 1960s, and "to become the world's leading space-faring nation". The relationship of NASA with Rice University and the city of Houston has remained strong to the present day.
The original charter of Rice Institute dictated that the university admit and educate, tuition-free, "the white inhabitants of Houston, and the state of Texas". In 1963, the governing board of Rice University filed a lawsuit to allow the university to modify its charter to admit students of all races and to charge tuition. Ph.D. student Raymond Johnson became the first black Rice student when he was admitted that year. In 1964, Rice officially amended the university charter to desegregate its graduate and undergraduate divisions. The Trustees of Rice University prevailed in a lawsuit to void the racial language in the trust in 1966. Rice began charging tuition for the first time in 1965. In the same year, Rice launched a $33 million ($271 million) development campaign. $43 million ($287 million) was raised by its conclusion in 1970. In 1974, two new schools were founded at Rice, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management and the Shepherd School of Music. The Brown Foundation Challenge, a fund-raising program designed to encourage annual gifts, was launched in 1976 and ended in 1996 having raised $185 million ($305 million). The Rice School of Social Sciences was founded in 1979.
On-campus housing was exclusively for men for the first forty years, until 1957. Jones College was the first women's residence on the Rice campus, followed by Brown College. According to legend, the women's colleges were purposefully situated at the opposite end of campus from the existing men's colleges as a way of preserving campus propriety, which was greatly valued by Edgar Odell Lovett, who did not even allow benches to be installed on campus, fearing that they "might lead to co-fraternization of the sexes". The path linking the north colleges to the center of campus was given the tongue-in-cheek name of "Virgin's Walk". Individual colleges became coeducational between 1973 and 1987, with the single-sex floors of colleges that had them becoming co-ed by 2006. By then, several new residential colleges had been built on campus to handle the university's growth, including Lovett College, Sid Richardson College, and Martel College.
Late twentieth and early twenty-first century
The Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations was held at Rice in 1990. Three years later, in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy was created. In 1997, the Edythe Bates Old Grand Organ and Recital Hall and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, renamed in 2005 for the late Nobel Prize winner and Rice professor Richard E. Smalley, were dedicated at Rice. In 1999, the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology was created. The Rice Owls baseball team was ranked #1 in the nation for the first time in that year (1999), holding the top spot for eight weeks.
In 2003, the Owls won their first national championship in baseball, which was the first for the university in any team sport, beating Southwest Missouri State in the opening game and then the University of Texas and Stanford University twice each en route to the title. In 2008, President David Leebron issued a ten-point plan titled "Vision for the Second Century" outlining plans to increase research funding, strengthen existing programs, and increase collaboration. The plan has brought about another wave of campus constructions, including the erection the newly renamed BioScience Research Collaborative building (intended to foster collaboration with the adjacent Texas Medical Center), a new recreational center and the renovated Autry Court basketball stadium, and the addition of two new residential colleges, Duncan College and McMurtry College.
Beginning in late 2008, the university considered a merger with Baylor College of Medicine, though the merger was ultimately rejected in 2010. Select Rice undergraduates are currently guaranteed admission to Baylor College of Medicine upon graduation as part of the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars program. According to History Professor John Boles' recent book University Builder: Edgar Odell Lovett and the Founding of the Rice Institute, the first president's original vision for the university included hopes for future medical and law schools.
In June 2019, the university's president announced plans for a task force on Rice's "past in relation to slave history and racial injustice", stating that "Rice has some historical connections to that terrible part of American history and the segregation and racial disparities that resulted directly from it".
Rice's campus is a heavily wooded 285-acre (115-hectare) tract of land in the museum district of Houston, located close to the city of West University Place.
Five streets demarcate the campus: Greenbriar Street, Rice Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Main Street, and University Boulevard. For most of its history, all of Rice's buildings have been contained within this "outer loop". In recent years, new facilities have been built close to campus, but the bulk of administrative, academic, and residential buildings are still located within the original pentagonal plot of land. The new Collaborative Research Center, all graduate student housing, the Greenbriar building, and the Wiess President's House are located off-campus.
Rice prides itself on the amount of green space available on campus; there are only about 50 buildings spread between the main entrance at its easternmost corner, and the parking lots and Rice Stadium at the West end. The Lynn R. Lowrey Arboretum, consisting of more than 4000 trees and shrubs (giving birth to the legend that Rice has a tree for every student), is spread throughout the campus.
The university's first president, Edgar Odell Lovett, intended for the campus to have a uniform architecture style to improve its aesthetic appeal. To that end, nearly every building on campus is noticeably Byzantine in style, with sand and pink-colored bricks, large archways and columns being a common theme among many campus buildings. Noteworthy exceptions include the glass-walled Brochstein Pavilion, Lovett College with its Brutalist-style concrete gratings, Moody Center for the Arts with its contemporary design, and the eclectic-Mediterranean Duncan Hall. In September 2011, Travel+Leisure listed Rice's campus as one of the most beautiful in the United States.
Lovett Hall, named for Rice's first president, is the university's most iconic campus building. Through its Sallyport arch, new students symbolically enter the university during matriculation and depart as graduates at commencement. Duncan Hall, Rice's computational engineering building, was designed to encourage collaboration between the four different departments situated there. The building's foyer, drawn from many world cultures, was designed by the architect to symbolically express this collaborative purpose.
The campus is organized in a number of quadrangles. The Academic Quad, anchored by a statue of founder William Marsh Rice, includes Ralph Adams Cram's masterpiece, the asymmetrical Lovett Hall, the original administrative building; Fondren Library; Herzstein Hall, the original physics building and home to the largest amphitheater on campus; Sewall Hall for the social sciences and arts; Rayzor Hall for the languages; and Anderson Hall of the Architecture department. The Humanities Building, winner of several architectural awards, is immediately adjacent to the main quad. Further west lies a quad surrounded by McNair Hall of the Jones Business School, the Baker Institute, and Alice Pratt Brown Hall of the Shepherd School of Music. These two quads are surrounded by the university's main access road, a one-way loop referred to as the "inner loop". In the Engineering Quad, a trinity of sculptures by Michael Heizer, collectively entitled 45 Degrees, 90 Degrees, 180 Degrees, are flanked by Abercrombie Laboratory, the Cox Building, and the Mechanical Laboratory, housing the Electrical, Mechanical, and Earth Science/Civil Engineering departments, respectively. Duncan Hall is the latest addition to this quad, providing new offices for the Computer Science, Computational and Applied Math, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Statistics departments.
Roughly three-quarters of Rice's undergraduate population lives on campus. Housing is divided among eleven residential colleges, which form an integral part of student life at the university (see Residential colleges of Rice University). The colleges are named for university historical figures and benefactors, and while there is wide variation in their appearance, facilities, and dates of founding, are an important source of identity for Rice students, functioning as dining halls, residence halls, sports teams, among other roles. Rice does not have or endorse a Greek system, with the residential college system taking its place. Five colleges, McMurtry, Duncan, Martel, Jones, and Brown are located on the north side of campus, across from the "South Colleges", Baker, Will Rice, Lovett, Hanszen, Sid Richardson, and Wiess, on the other side of the Academic Quadrangle. Of the eleven colleges, Baker is the oldest, originally built in 1912, and the twin Duncan and McMurtry colleges are the newest, and opened for the first time for the 2009–10 school year. Will Rice, Baker, and Lovett colleges are undergoing renovation to expand their dining facilities as well as the number of rooms available for students.
The on-campus football facility, Rice Stadium, opened in 1950 with a capacity of 70,000 seats. After improvements in 2006, the stadium is currently configured to seat 47,000 for football but can readily be reconfigured to its original capacity of 70,000, more than the total number of Rice alumni, living and deceased. The stadium was the site of Super Bowl VIII and a speech by John F. Kennedy on September 12, 1962 in which he challenged the nation to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. The recently renovated Tudor Fieldhouse, formerly known as Autry Court, is home to the basketball and volleyball teams. Other stadia include the Rice Track/Soccer Stadium and the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium. A new Rec Center now houses the intramural sports offices and provide an outdoor pool, training and exercise facilities for all Rice students, while athletics training will solely be held at Tudor Fieldhouse and the Rice Football Stadium.
The university and Houston Independent School District jointly established The Rice School, a kindergarten through 8th grade public magnet school in Houston. The school opened in August 1994. Through Cy-Fair ISD Rice University offers a credit course based summer school for grades 8 through 12. They also have skills based classes during the summer in the Rice Summer School.
In early 2019, Rice announced the site where the abandoned Sears building in Midtown Houston stood, along with its surrounding area, would be transformed into the "The Ion," the hub of the 16-acre South Main Innovation District. President of Rice, David Leebron stated "We chose the name Ion because it's from the Greek ienai, which means 'go'. We see it as embodying the ever-forward motion of discovery, the spark at the center of a truly original idea."
Students of Rice and other Houston-area colleges and universities making up the Student Coalition for a Just and Equitable Innovation Corridor are advocating for a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), a contractual agreement between a developer and a community coalition. Residents of neighboring Third Ward and other members of the Houston Coalition for Equitable Development Without Displacement (HCEDD) have faced consistent opposition from the City of Houston and Rice Management Company to a CBA as traditionally defined, in favor of an agreement between the latter two entities without a community coalition signatory.
Rice University is chartered as a non-profit organization and is governed by a privately appointed board of trustees. The board consists of a maximum of 25 voting members who serve four-year terms. The trustees serve without compensation and a simple majority of trustees must reside in Texas, including at least four within the greater Houston area. The board of trustees delegates its power by appointing a president to serve as the chief executive of the university. David W. Leebron was appointed president in 2004 and succeeded Malcolm Gillis who served since 1993. The provost, six vice presidents, and other university officials report to the president. The president is advised by a University Council composed of the provost, eight members of the Faculty Council, two staff members, one graduate student, and two undergraduate students. The president presides over a Faculty Council which has the authority to alter curricular requirements, establish new degree programs, and approve candidates for degrees.
The university's academics are organized into several schools. Schools that have undergraduate and graduate programs include:
- The Rice University School of Architecture
- The George R. Brown School of Engineering
- The School of Humanities
- The Shepherd School of Music
- The Wiess School of Natural Sciences
- The Rice University School of Social Sciences
Two schools have only graduate programs:
- The Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management
- The Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies
Rice's undergraduate students benefit from a centralized admissions process, which admits new students to the university as a whole, rather than a specific school (the schools of Music and Architecture are decentralized). Students are encouraged to select the major path that best suits their desires; a student can later decide that they would rather pursue study in another field, or continue their current coursework and add a second or third major. These transitions are designed to be simple at Rice, with students not required to decide on a specific major until their sophomore year of study.
Rice's academics are organized into six schools which offer courses of study at the graduate and undergraduate level, with two more being primarily focused on graduate education, while offering select opportunities for undergraduate students. Rice offers 360 degrees in over 60 departments. There are 40 undergraduate degree programs, 51 masters programs, and 29 doctoral programs.
Undergraduate tuition for the 2011–2012 school year was $34,900. $651 was charged for fees, and Rice projected an $800 budget for books and $1550 for personal expenses. Rice students were charged $12,270 for room and board. Per year, the total cost of a Rice University education was $50,171.
Rice Management Company
The Rice Management Company manages the $6.5 billion Rice University endowment (June 2019) and $957 million debt. The endowment provides 40% of Rice's operating revenues. Allison Thacker is the President and Chief Investment Officer of the Rice Management Company, having joined the university in 2011.
Rice is a medium-sized, highly residential research university. The majority of enrollments are in the full-time, four-year undergraduate program emphasizing arts & sciences and professions. There is a high graduate coexistence with the comprehensive graduate program and a very high level of research activity. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as well as the professional accreditation agencies for engineering, management, and architecture.
Each of Rice's departments is organized into one of three distribution groups, and students whose major lies within the scope of one group must take at least 3 courses of at least 3 credit hours each of approved distribution classes in each of the other two groups, as well as completing one physical education course as part of the LPAP (Lifetime Physical Activity Program) requirement. All new students must take a Freshman Writing Intensive Seminar (FWIS) class, and for students who do not pass the university's writing composition examination (administered during the summer before matriculation), FWIS 100, a writing class, becomes an additional requirement.
|Non-Hispanic White American||32%||41.4%||65%|
|Two or more races||5%||2.7%||(N/A)|
As of fall 2014, men make up 52% of the undergraduate body and 64% of the professional and post-graduate student body. The student body consists of students from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, two U.S. Territories, and 83 foreign countries. Forty percent of degree-seeking students are from Texas.
The Rice Honor Code plays an integral role in academic affairs. Almost all Rice exams are unproctored and professors give timed, closed-book exams that students take home and complete at their own convenience. Potential infractions are reported to the student Honor Council, elected by popular vote. The penalty structure is established every year by Council consensus; typically, penalties have ranged from a letter of reprimand to an 'F' in the course and a two semester suspension. During Orientation Week, students must take and pass a test demonstrating that they understand the Honor System's requirements and sign a Matriculation Pledge. On assignments, Rice students affirm their commitment to the Honor Code by writing On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this (examination, quiz or paper).
Research centers and resources
Rice is noted for its applied science programs in the fields of nanotechnology, artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, signal processing and space science, being ranked 1st in the world in materials science research by the Times Higher Education (THE) in 2010.
- Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship - supports entrepreneurs and early-stage technology ventures in Houston and Texas through education, collaboration, and research, ranked No. 1 among university business incubators.
- Baker Institute for Public Policy - a leading nonpartisan public policy think-tank
- BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) - interdisciplinary, cross-campus, and inter-institutional resource between Rice University and Texas Medical Center
- Boniuk Institute - dedicated to religious tolerance and advancing religious literacy, respect and mutual understanding
- Center for African and African American Studies - fosters conversations on topics such as critical approaches to race and racism, the nature of diasporic histories and identities, and the complexity of Africa’s past, present and future
- Chao Center for Asian Studies - research hub for faculty, students and post-doctoral scholars working in Asian studies
- Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (CSWGS) - interdisciplinary academic programs and research opportunities, including the journal Feminist Economics
- Data to Knowledge Lab (D2K) - campus hub for experiential learning in data science
- Digital Signal Processing (DSP) - center for education and research in the field of digital signal processing
- Humanities Research Center (HRC) - identifies, encourages, and funds innovative research projects by faculty, visiting scholars, graduate, and undergraduate students in the School of Humanities and beyond
- Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) - facilitates the translation of interdisciplinary research and education in biosciences and bioengineering
- Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology - advances applied interdisciplinary research in the areas of computation and information technology
- Kinder Institute for Urban Research - conducts the Houston Area Survey, "the nation's longest running study of any metropolitan region's economy, population, life experiences, beliefs and attitudes"
- Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) - a resource for education and research breakthroughs and advances in the broad, multidisciplinary field of nanophotonics
- Moody Center for the Arts - experimental arts space featuring studio classrooms, maker space, audiovisual editing booths, and a gallery and office space for visiting national and international artists
- OpenStax CNX (formerly Connexions) and OpenStax - an open source platform and open access publisher, respectively, of open educational resources
- Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK) - space for undergraduate students to design, prototype and deploy solutions to real-world engineering challenges
- Rice Cinema - an independent theater run by the Visual and Dramatic Arts department at Rice which screens documentaries, foreign films, and experimental cinema and hosts film festivals and lectures since 1970
- Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL)
- Religion and Public Life Program (RPLP) - a research, training and outreach program working to advance understandings of the role of religion in public life
- Rice Design Alliance (RDA) - outreach and public programs of the Rice School of Architecture
- Rice Center for Quantum Materials (RCQM) - organization dedicated to research and higher education in areas relating to quantum phenomena
- Rice Neuroengineering Initiative (NEI) - fosters research collaborations in neural engineering topics
- Rice Space Institute (RSI) - fosters programs in all areas of space research
- Smalley-Curl Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (SCI) - the nation's first nanotechnology center
- Welch Institute for Advanced Materials - collaborative research institute to support the foundational research for discoveries in materials science, similar to the model of Salk Institute and Broad Institute
- Woodson Research Center Special Collections & Archives - publisher of print and web-based materials highlighting the department's primary source collections such as the Houston African American, Asian American, and Jewish History Archives, University Archives, rare books, and hip hop/rap music-related materials from the Swishahouse record label and Houston Folk Music Archive, etc.
Admission to Rice is rated as "most selective" by U.S. News & World Report.
For fall 2020, Rice received 23,443 freshmen applications of which 2,346 were admitted (10.0%) up from a record-low 8.7% acceptance rate in 2019. The middle 50% range of SAT scores for the class of 2023 were 1470–1560; the middle 50% range of the ACT Composite score was 33–35.
Rice was ranked tied at 16th among national universities and 108th among global universities, 6th for "best undergraduate teaching", 8th for "Best Value", and tied for 18th "Most Innovative" among national universities in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report in its 2021 edition. Forbes magazine ranked Rice University 21st nationally among 650 liberal arts colleges, universities and service academies in 2019, 19th among research universities and 2nd in the South. Kiplinger's Personal Finance places Rice 7th in its 2019 ranking of best value private universities in the United States.
In 2020, Rice was ranked 105th in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In 2020, Rice was ranked tied for 95th internationally (41st nationally) by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Rice University was also ranked 85th globally in 2020 by QS World University Rankings. Rice is noted for its entrepreneurial activity, and has been recognized as the top ranked business incubator in the world by the Stockholm-based UBI Index for both 2013 and 2014.
The Princeton Review ranked Rice 4th for "Best Quality of Life", 8th for "Happiest Students", 10th among the most LGBT friendliest colleges, and one of the top 50 best value private colleges in its 2020 edition. Rice was ranked 41st among research universities by the Center for Measuring University Performance in 2007. Consumer's Digest ranked Rice 3rd on the list of top 5 values in private colleges in its June 2011 issue. Fiske Guide to Colleges ranked Rice as one of the top 25 private "best buy" schools in its 2012 edition. In 2011 the Leiden Ranking, which measures the performance of 500 major research universities worldwide, using metrics designed to measure research impact ranked Rice 4th Globally, for effectiveness and contribution of research. In 2013 the university was again ranked first globally for quality of research in natural sciences and engineering, and 6th globally for all sciences. In 2014, The Daily Beast ranked Rice 14th out of nearly 2,000 schools it evaluated. In 2019, Money Magazine ranked Rice 24th in the nation.
Situated on nearly 300 acres (120 ha) in the center of Houston's Museum District and across the street from the city's Hermann Park, Rice is a green and leafy refuge; an oasis of learning convenient to the amenities of the nation's fourth-largest city. Rice's campus adjoins Hermann Park, the Texas Medical Center, and a neighborhood commercial center called Rice Village. Hermann Park includes the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre and an 18-hole municipal golf course. NRG Park, home of NRG Stadium and the Astrodome, is two miles (3 km) south of the campus. Among the dozen or so museums in the Museum District was (until May 14, 2017) the Rice University Art Gallery, open during the school year from 1995 until it closed in 2017. Easy access to downtown's theater and nightlife district and to Reliant Park is provided by the Houston METRORail system, with a station adjacent to the campus's main gate. The campus recently joined the Zipcar program with two vehicles to increase the transportation options for students and staff who need but currently don't utilize a vehicle.
In 1957, Rice University implemented a residential college system, which was proposed by the university's first president, Edgar Odell Lovett. The system was inspired by existing systems in place at Oxford and Cambridge in England and at several other universities in the United States, most notably Yale University. The existing residences known as East, South, West, and Wiess Halls became Baker, Will Rice, Hanszen, and Wiess Colleges, respectively.
List of residential colleges
- Baker College, named in honor of Captain James A. Baker, friend and attorney of William Marsh Rice, and first chair of the Rice Board of Governors.
- Will Rice College, named for William M. Rice, Jr., the nephew of the university's founder, William Marsh Rice.
- Hanszen College, named for Harry Clay Hanszen, benefactor to the university and chairman of the Rice Board of Governors from 1946 to 1950.
- Wiess College, named for Harry Carothers Wiess (1887–1948), one of the founders and one-time president of Humble Oil, now ExxonMobil.
- Jones College, named for Mary Gibbs Jones, wife of prominent Houston philanthropist Jesse Holman Jones.
- Brown College, named for Margarett Root Brown by her in-laws, George R. Brown.
- Lovett College, named after the university's first president, Edgar Odell Lovett.
- Sid Richardson College, named for the Sid Richardson Foundation, which was established by Texas oilman, cattleman, and philanthropist Sid W. Richardson.
- Martel College, named for Marian and Speros P. Martel, was built in 2002.
- McMurtry College, named for Rice alumni Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Silicon Valley venture capitalists.
- Duncan College, named for Charles Duncan, Jr., Secretary of Energy.
Much of the social and academic life as an undergraduate student at Rice is centered around residential colleges. Each residential college has its own cafeteria (serveries) and each residential college has study groups and its own social practices.
Although each college is composed of a full cross-section of students at Rice, they have over time developed their own traditions and "personalities". When students matriculate they are randomly assigned to one of the eleven colleges, although "legacy" exceptions are made for students whose siblings or parents have attended Rice. Students generally remain members of the college that they are assigned to for the duration of their undergraduate careers, even if they move off-campus at any point. Students are guaranteed on-campus housing for freshman year and two of the next three years; each college has its own system for determining allocation of the remaining spaces, collectively known as "Room Jacking". Students develop strong loyalties to their college and maintain friendly rivalry with other colleges, especially during events such as Beer Bike Race and O-Week. Colleges keep their rivalries alive by performing "jacks," or pranks, on each other, especially during O-Week and Willy Week. During Matriculation, Commencement, and other formal academic ceremonies, the colleges process in the order in which they were established.
The Baker 13 is a tradition in which students run around campus wearing nothing but shoes and shaving cream at 10 p.m. on the 13th and the 31st of every month, as well as the 26th on months with fewer than 31 days. The event, long sponsored by Baker College, usually attracts a small number of students, but Halloween night and the first and last relevant days of the school year both attract large numbers of revelers.
Beer Bike Race
According to the official website, "Beer Bike is a combination intramural bicycle race and drinking competition dating back to 1957. Ten riders and ten chuggers make up a team. Elaborate rules include details such as a prohibition of "bulky or wet clothing articles designed to absorb beer/water or prevent spilled beer/water from being seen" and regulations for chug can design. Each residential college as well as the Graduate Student Association participates with a men's team, a women's team, and alumni (co-ed) team. Each leg of the race is a relay in which a team's "chugger" must chug 24 US fluid ounces (710 ml) of beer or water for the men's division and 12 US fluid ounces (350 ml) for women before the team's "rider" may begin to ride. Participants who both ride and chug are referred to as "Ironmen". Willy Week is a term coined in the 1990s to refer to the week preceding Beer-Bike, a time of general energy and excitement on campus. Jacks (pranks) are especially common during Willy Week; some examples in the past include removing showerheads and encasing the Hanszen guardian." The morning of the Beer Bike race itself begins with what is by some estimations the largest annual water balloon fight in the world. Beer-Bike is Rice's most prominent student event, and for younger alumni it serves as an unofficial reunion weekend on par with Homecoming. The 2009 Beer Bike race was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bill Wilson, a popular professor and long-time resident associate of Wiess College who died earlier that year.
In the event of inclement weather, Beer Bike becomes a Beer Run. The rules are nearly identical, except that the Bikers must instead run the length of the track.
A number of on-campus institutions form an integral part of student life at Rice. Many of these organizations have been operating for several decades.
Rice Coffeehouse finds its beginnings in Hanszen College, where students would serve coffee in the Weenie Loft, a study room in the old section's fourth floor. Later, the coffee house moved to the Hanszen basement to accommodate more student patrons. That coffeehouse became known as Breadsticks and Pomegranates. Due to flooding, an unfortunate effect of 1) its location in the basement and 2) the Houston climate, this coffee house closed. Demand for an on-campus Coffeehouse grew and in 1990, the Rice Coffeehouse was founded.
The Rice Coffeehouse is a not-for-profit student-run organization serving Rice University and the greater Houston community. Over the past few years, it has introduced fair-trade and organic coffee and loose-leaf teas.
Coffeehouse baristas are referred to as K.O.C.'s, or Keepers of the Coffee. Rice Coffeehouse has also adopted an unofficial mascot, the squirrel, which can be found on T-shirts, mugs, and bumper stickers stuck on laptops across campus. The logo pays tribute to Rice's unusually plump and frighteningly tame squirrel population.
Willy's Pub is Rice's graduate pub run by students located in the basement of the Rice Memorial Center. It opened on April 11, 1975, with Rice President Norman Hackerman pouring the first beer. The name was chosen by students in tribute to the university's founder, William Marsh Rice. After the drinking age in Texas was raised in 1986, the pub entered a period of financial difficulties and in April 1995, was destroyed in a fire. The space was gutted but renovated and remains open.
Rice Bikes is a full-service on-campus bicycle sale, rental, and repair shop. It originated in the basement of Sid Richardson College in February 2011. In 2012, Rice Bikes officially became the university's third student-run business. Rice Bikes merged with a student-run bicycle rental business in 2013, and operations moved to the Rice Memorial Center in 2014. In 2017, the business moved to the garage of the Rice Housing and Dining department's headquarters.
Rice Bikes sells refurbished bicycles bought from students and functions as a full bicycle repair shop.
Rice has a weekly student newspaper (The Rice Thresher), a yearbook (The Campanile), college radio station (KTRU Rice Radio), and now defunct, campus-wide student television station (RTV5). They are based out of the RMC student center. In addition, Rice hosts several student magazines dedicated to a range of different topics; in fact, the spring semester of 2008 saw the birth of two such magazines, a literary sex journal called Open and an undergraduate science research magazine entitled Catalyst.
The Rice Thresher is published every Wednesday and is ranked by Princeton Review as one of the top campus newspapers nationally for student readership. It is distributed around campus, and at a few other local businesses and has a website. The Thresher has a small, dedicated staff and is known for its coverage of campus news, open submission opinion page, and the satirical Backpage, which has often been the center of controversy. The newspaper has won several awards from the College Media Association, Associated Collegiate Press and Texas Intercollegiate Press Association.
The Rice Campanile was first published in 1916 celebrating Rice's first graduating class. It has published continuously since then, publishing two volumes in 1944 since the university had two graduating classes due to World War II. The website was created sometime in the early to mid 2000s. The 2015 won the first place Pinnacle for best yearbook from College Media Association.
KTRU Rice Radio is the student-run radio station. Though most DJs are Rice students, anyone is allowed to apply. It is known for playing genres and artists of music and sound unavailable on other radio stations in Houston, and often, the US. The station takes requests over the phone or online. In 2000 and 2006, KTRU won Houston Press' Best Radio Station in Houston. In 2003, Rice alum and active KTRU DJ DL's hip-hip show won Houston Press' Best Hip-hop Radio Show. On August 17, 2010, it was announced that Rice University had been in negotiations to sell the station's broadcast tower, FM frequency and license to the University of Houston System to become a full-time classical music and fine arts programming station. The new station, KUHA, would be operated as a not-for-profit outlet with listener supporters. The FCC approved the sale and granted the transfer of license to the University of Houston System on April 15, 2011, however, KUHA proved to be an even larger failure and so after four and a half years of operation, The University of Houston System announced that KUHA's broadcast tower, FM frequency and license were once again up for sale in August 2015. KTRU continued to operate much as it did previously, streaming live on the Internet, via apps, and on HD2 radio using the 90.1 signal. Under student leadership, KTRU explored the possibility of returning to FM radio for a number of years. In spring 2015, KTRU was granted permission by the FCC to begin development of a new broadcast signal via LPFM radio. On October 1, 2015, KTRU made its official return to FM radio on the 96.1 signal. While broadcasting on HD2 radio has been discontinued, KTRU continues to broadcast via internet in addition to its LPFM signal.
RTV5 is a student-run television network available as channel 5 on campus. RTV5 was created initially as Rice Broadcast Television in 1997; RBT began to broadcast the following year in 1998, and aired its first live show across campus in 1999. It experienced much growth and exposure over the years with successful programs like "Drinking with Phil”, “The Meg & Maggie Show”, which was a variety and call-in show, a weekly news show, and extensive live coverage in December 2000 of the shut down of KTRU by the administration. In spring 2001, the Rice undergraduate community voted in the general elections to support RBT as a blanket tax organization, effectively providing a yearly income of $10,000 to purchase new equipment and provide the campus with a variety of new programming. In the spring of 2005, RBT members decided the station needed a new image and a new name: Rice Television 5. One of RTV5's most popular shows was the 24-hour show, where a camera and couch placed in the RMC stayed on air for 24 hours. One such show is held in fall and another in spring, usually during a weekend allocated for visits by prospective students. RTV5 has a video on demand site at rtv5.rice.edu. The station went off the air in 2014 and changed its name to Rice Video Productions. In 2015 the group's funding was threatened, but ultimately maintained. In 2016 the small student staff requested to no longer be a blanket-tax organization. In the fall of 2017, the club did not register as a club.
The Rice Review, also known as R2, is a yearly student-run literary journal at Rice University that publishes prose, poetry, and creative nonfiction written by undergraduate students, as well as interviews. The journal was founded in 2004 by creative writing professor and author Justin Cronin.
The Rice Standard was an independent, student-run variety magazine modeled after such publications as The New Yorker and Harper's. Prior to fall 2009, it was regularly published three times a semester with a wide array of content, running from analyses of current events and philosophical pieces to personal essays, short fiction and poetry. In August 2009, the Standard transitioned to a completely online format with the launch of their redesigned website, ricestandard.org. The first website of its kind on Rice's campus, the Standard featured blog-style content written by and for Rice students. The Rice Standard had around 20 regular contributors, and the site features new content every day (including holidays). In 2017 no one registered The Rice Standard as a club within the university.
Open, a magazine dedicated to "literary sex content," predictably caused a stir on campus with its initial publication in spring 2008. A mixture of essays, editorials, stories and artistic photography brought Open attention both on campus and in the Houston Chronicle. The third and last annual edition of Open was released in spring of 2010.
Vahalla is the Graduate Student Association on-campus bar under the steps of the chemistry building.
Rice plays in NCAA Division I athletics and is part of Conference USA. Rice was a member of the Western Athletic Conference before joining Conference USA in 2005. Rice is the second-smallest school, measured by undergraduate enrollment, competing in NCAA Division I FBS football, only ahead of Tulsa.
The Rice baseball team won the 2003 College World Series, defeating Stanford, giving Rice its only national championship in a team sport. The victory made Rice University the smallest school in 51 years to win a national championship at the highest collegiate level of the sport. The Rice baseball team has played on campus at Reckling Park since the 2000 season. As of 2010, the baseball team has won 14 consecutive conference championships in three different conferences: the final championship of the defunct Southwest Conference, all nine championships while a member of the Western Athletic Conference, and five more championships in its first five years as a member of Conference USA. Additionally, Rice's baseball team has finished third in both the 2006 and 2007 College World Series tournaments. Rice now has made six trips to Omaha for the CWS. In 2004, Rice became the first school ever to have three players selected in the first eight picks of the MLB draft when Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Townsend were selected third, fourth, and eighth, respectively. In 2007, Joe Savery was selected as the 19th overall pick.
Rice has been very successful in women's sports in recent years. In 2004–05, Rice sent its women's volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams to their respective NCAA tournaments. The women's swim team has consistently brought at least one member of their team to the NCAA championships since 2013. In 2005–06, the women's soccer, basketball, and tennis teams advanced, with five individuals competing in track and field. In 2006–07, the Rice women's basketball team made the NCAA tournament, while again five Rice track and field athletes received individual NCAA berths. In 2008, the women's volleyball team again made the NCAA tournament. In 2011 the Women's Swim team won their first conference championship in the history of the university. This was an impressive feat considering they won without having a diving team. The team repeated their C-USA success in 2013 and 2014. In 2017, the women's basketball team, led by second-year head coach Tina Langley, won the Women's Basketball Invitational, defeating UNC-Greensboro 74–62 in the championship game at Tudor Fieldhouse. Though not a varsity sport, Rice's ultimate frisbee women's team, named Torque, won consecutive Division III national championships in 2014 and 2015.
In 2006, the football team qualified for its first bowl game since 1961, ending the second-longest bowl drought in the country at the time. On December 22, 2006, Rice played in the New Orleans Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana against the Sun Belt Conference champion, Troy. The Owls lost 41–17. The bowl appearance came after Rice had a 14-game losing streak from 2004–05 and went 1–10 in 2005. The streak followed an internally authorized 2003 McKinsey report that stated football alone was responsible for a $4 million deficit in 2002. Tensions remained high between the athletic department and faculty, as a few professors who chose to voice their opinion were in favor of abandoning the football program. The program success in 2006, the "Rice Renaissance," proved to be a revival of the Owl football program, quelling those tensions. David Bailiff took over the program in 2007 and has remained head coach. Jarett Dillard set an NCAA record in 2006 by catching a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games and took a 15-game overall streak into the 2007 season.
In 2008, the football team posted a 9-3 regular season, capping off the year with a 38–14 victory over Western Michigan University in the Texas Bowl. The win over Western Michigan marked the Owls' first bowl win in 45 years.
Rice Stadium also serves as the performance venue for the university's Marching Owl Band, or "MOB." Despite its name, the MOB is a scatter band that focuses on performing humorous skits and routines rather than traditional formation marching.
Rice Owls men's basketball won 10 conference titles in the former Southwest Conference (1918, 1935*, 1940, 1942*, 1943*, 1944*, 1945, 1949*, 1954*, 1970; * denotes shared title). Most recently, guard Morris Almond was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz. Rice named former Cal Bears head coach Ben Braun as head basketball coach to succeed Willis Wilson, fired after Rice finished the 2007–2008 season with a winless (0-16) conference record and overall record of 3-27.
Rice's mascot is Sammy the Owl. In previous decades, the university kept several live owls on campus in front of Lovett College, but this practice has been discontinued, due to public concern regarding animal welfare.
Rice also has a 12-member coed cheerleading squad and a coed dance team, both of which perform at football and basketball games throughout the year.
As of 2011, Rice has graduated 98 classes of students consisting of 51,961 living alumni. Over 100 students at Rice have been Fulbright Scholars, 25 Marshall Scholars, 25 Mellon Fellows, 12 Rhodes Scholars, 6 Udall Scholars, and 65 Watson Fellows, among several other honors and awards.
Rice's distinguished faculty and alumni consists of five Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize award winners, six Fulbright Scholars, 29 Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Recipients, 14 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 3 members of the American Philosophical Society, 35 Guggenheim Fellowships, 12 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 2 members of the National Academy of Medicine, 10 members of the National Academy of Sciences, five fellows of the National Humanities Center, and 86 fellows of the National Science Foundation.
In government and politics, Rice alumni include Alberto Gonzales, former Attorney General; Charles Duncan, former Secretary of Energy; William P. Hobby, Jr.; John Kline; George P. Bush; Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary for President Obama; Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for President Obama and Annise Parker, the 61st Mayor of Houston.
Rice alumni who became prominent writers include Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer Prize–winning author and Oscar-winning writer of the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain; Joyce Carol Oates, who was once a doctoral candidate in English; John Graves, author of Goodbye to a River; and Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City, who attended for three semesters.
Notable entrepreneurs from Rice include Elizabeth Avellán, co-founder of Troublemaker Studios, Tim and Karrie League, founders of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Drafthouse Films, Gus Sorola, one of the founders of Rooster Teeth, Brian Armstrong, founder and CEO of Coinbase, and Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol, founders of Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
In science and technology, Rice alumni include 14 NASA astronauts; Robert Curl, Nobel Prize–winning discoverer of fullerene; Robert Woodrow Wilson, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation; David Eagleman, celebrity neuroscientist and NYT bestselling author; and NASA former Apollo 11 and 13 warning systems engineer and motivational speaker Jerry Woodfill.
Rice athletes include Lance Berkman, Brock Holt, Bubba Crosby, Harold Solomon, Frank Ryan, Tommy Kramer, Jose Cruz, Jr., O.J. Brigance, Larry Izzo, James Casey, Courtney Hall, Bert Emanuel, Luke Willson, Tony Cingrani, Anthony Rendon, and Leo Rucka, as well as three Olympians (Funmi Jimoh '06, Allison Beckford '04, and William Fred Hansen '63).
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