In his 1912 inaugural address, Rice University president Edgar Odell Lovett set forth an ambitious vision, proclaiming, “The new institution … aspires to university standing of the highest grade… For the present it is proposed to assign no upper limit to its educational endeavor.”
Rice has followed Lovett’s vision even as it has transformed over the years. As a leading research university with a distinctive commitment to undergraduate education, Rice continues to aspire to pathbreaking research, unsurpassed teaching and contributions to the betterment of the world.
We write to let you know about an important new effort by the university to learn about our own history and to contribute to shaping Rice’s future. We hope many of you will choose to engage with this effort.
Rice has acknowledged its history of initially prohibiting black students from enrolling. While the university reversed that policy through court action it pursued in the 1960s, it is clear that Rice has a more complicated history with issues of racial injustice that extends beyond the decision on whether to admit black students to the university. Although Rice University was founded nearly fifty years after the abolition of slavery, Rice has some historical connections to that terrible part of American history and the segregation and racial disparities that resulted directly from it. As a university, it is part of our obligation to understand our history, and its connection to our present, as best we can. In recognition of the importance of this history, and after initial discussions with concerned faculty, we write to inform you about our decision to establish a Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice.