Rice has all the advantages that come from being a small, private university. Founded in 1912 by William Marsh Rice, it is dedicated to the promotion of science, letters and the arts. Throughout its history, first as Rice Institute and later as Rice University, the institution has enjoyed a reputation for excellence and selectivity in a quiet and spacious campus setting. Current enrollment is about 2,700 undergraduates and 1,600 graduate students, numbers that maintain a remarkable one-to-10 faculty-student ratio.
Past Rice president George Rupp observed, "We are extraordinarily fortunate in the setting provided for our pursuit of liberal as well as technical learning. On the campus as a whole we are able to be a community of inquiry that allows, encourages, and even requires the collaboration among students and faculty that characterizes education at its best."
At Rice, you will have the opportunity to collaborate on research projects. You will work in an environment at once serious and relaxed, in company with a small, handpicked group of other students under the direction of a faculty of leading researchers.
Even the physical setting fosters this atmosphere of quiet intensity. Set in a three-hundred-acre academic park shaded by about four thousand trees, the campus features a distinctive blend of Mediterranean and Renaissance architecture noted for its red tiled roofs, courtyards, and whimsical sculptured details. The location, too, is a blend - near dynamic downtown Houston, our nation's fourth largest city, but insulated by quiet, residential neighborhoods and tall hedges (Rice students speak of graduation as "going beyond the hedges").
Just across Main Street, which bounds the east side of the campus, lies the Texas Medical Center, where world-famous laboratories, hospitals, and medical schools offer added opportunities for collaborative research, and Hermann Park, one of the nation's largest urban parks. Here you can enjoy hundreds of acres of picnic grounds, a zoo, golf, and an outdoor theater offering operas, plays, and concerts. Also within easy walking distance are the Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum, and the Museum of Natural Science.
Rice offers the best of both worlds: the personal atmosphere of a small liberal arts college and the intellectual distinction of an outstanding research university. We hope you will want to join us "inside the hedges."
Rice first opened its doors in 1912 and so ranks as a younger school among the nation's major institutions. The founder, William Marsh Rice (1816-1900), was a native of Springfield, Mass. As a young man, Rice left New England and headed for Texas in search of his fortune. Within 30 years of arriving in Houston, he had parlayed a small merchandising business into a trading empire. At the age of 50, he was probably the second-wealthiest man in the state.
Though married twice, William Marsh Rice never had any children. In his later years, he considered a number of options for the disposition of his fortune. He settled finally on the establishment of the William Marsh Rice Institute of Letters, Science, and Art, a university "of the first class" to be located in the city that had provided his modest start in business. He selected his board of trustees when the institute was chartered in 1891 but asked that construction of the school not begin until after his death. He died in 1900.
In 1907, mathematician and astronomer Edgar Odell Lovett, with the recommendation of his mentor Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton, was appointed to complete planning for the university and to serve as its first president. Professor Lovett selected the original faculty from outstanding universities in the United States and abroad. Rice Institute opened in 1912 with a student body of 77, a faculty of 10, two academic buildings and one residence hall. In 1960, the name was officially changed to Rice University.
After President Lovett, succeeding presidents have continued the original emphasis on scholarship and research. Professor William V. Houston, a physicist, was president (1946-1961) during a period of increasing emphasis on graduate education and considerable construction on campus. Professor Kenneth Pitzer, internationally prominent physical chemist, served as president from1961 to 1968, during Rice's Golden Anniversary and a period of further expansion in physical facilities, in faculty and in student enrollment. Professor Norman Hackerman, distinguished chemist and former president of the University of Texas - Austin, served as Rice president during 1970-1985. On July 1, 1985, George Rupp became the fifth president of Rice. The first nonscientist to occupy that office, Dr. Rupp was formerly dean of Harvard University Divinity School. He was granted an A. B. from Princeton in 1964, a Bachelor of Divinity from Yale in 1967 and a Ph.D. in theology from Harvard in 1971.
Malcolm Gillis, an international economist, became the sixth President of Rice on July 1, 1993. Before coming to Rice he was Z. Smith Reynolds Distinguished Professor at Duke and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at that institution. He received a B.S. and a M.A. at the University of Florida in 1962 and 1963, respectively, and was awarded a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois in 1968.
The highly regarded traditions of Rice, from the Honor System adopted by student vote in 1916 through the residential college system inaugurated in 1957 to the academic dedication of the most newly admitted student at Rice, all add up to a university "of the first class." Its reputation and that of its 34,000 alumni, continues to grow through the eighth decade of Rice University's history.