End-of-Semester Message and Well Wishes

Dear students, faculty and staff,

As the spring semester comes to a close and we approach commencement, I am writing to thank you for continuing to uphold the values that make the Rice community so special. We are beautifully shaped by a unique culture of care that is central to what makes this university a special place to learn, live and grow.

I have enjoyed seeing many of you and celebrating at various end-of-year events that acknowledge the contributions and achievements of students, faculty and staff. Your excellence and commitment as Owls is invigorating and inspirational.

This academic year has also presented the difficult and profound challenge of witnessing painful world events that have brought deep suffering to many in our community. This past Friday, some of our students concluded a teach-in on campus as part of a national student movement in response to the more than reported 30,000 Palestinian lives lost during the conflict between Israel and Hamas that painfully continues. The students' activities were met with attention and debate, and not all were in agreement. But I believe many would concur that the right to responsible, personal expression and protest must be maintained, particularly on a university campus. Our students expressed themselves peacefully and our administration was careful to prevent activity that would have jeopardized the safety of any Rice student. I am proud of and grateful for the way the Rice University Police Department supported and protected our students with moderation and open communication. The student organizers of the teach-in also made several modifications to help maintain an environment that minimized disruption, departing the space each evening. Rice experienced no major incidents and no arrests during the four-day event. We are grateful for the respect and tolerance members of the Rice community have shown each other despite differences of perspectives.

While personal expression and academic freedom remain a valued and protected priority in our community, let us also be reminded that hate speech of any kind will not be tolerated. We were shocked and devastated by the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel and are concerned about the rise of antisemitism, islamophobia and anti-Palestinian hate across the country. Rice unequivocally considers calls for violence or genocide against any group to be evil, wrong and immoral. Such behavior violates Rice’s policies and could violate federal law. We strongly denounce islamophobia, antisemitism, and other forms of hatred and intolerance that are antithetical to our values and our mission. We will remain vigilant in monitoring such communication through the many ways in which to report wrongful conduct. Those who violate our policies will face consequences through our established processes. We’ve had occasion to activate these processes this semester, which reinforces how seriously we approach and investigate reported violations.

As the conflict in the Middle East continues, our distinguished panel of faculty scholars continues to educate and advise the administration on the complex issues related to the war. The Conversations on the Middle East education series that began in March will continue with additional engagement opportunities during the fall semester. Programming will continue to emphasize our culture of care and the importance of civil discourse, free expression and approaches to difficult conversations.

As we count down the days to commencement, there will be beautification efforts across campus to prepare for one of the most special times of the year for our community. We will use this honored academic tradition to focus on the outstanding accomplishments of our graduates, faculty and staff. Such accomplishments are representative of the collective commitment to excellence that defines our community. Our members of the Class of 2024, in particular, have shown incredible resilience and spirit after the COVID-19 pandemic years. We salute them, our graduates, and the family and friends who have supported them. And, we welcome this time when all of our students can celebrate their friends, classmates and community. Information about commencement guidelines and safety efforts to give our graduates the best experience on their special day can be found here. We encourage those attending a commencement event to read them carefully.

As I approach the two-year mark of my presidency, I want to express my profound gratitude for the way in which the feedback, criticism, engagement and support of our trustees, alumni, donors and community partners have helped me during a very challenging period. The more I learn about what fellow university presidents across the country are experiencing, the more I recognize how much I benefit as your leader from the wellspring of strength, courage and generosity that marks our community.

The summer ahead is an opportunity for reflection and renewal as well as a time to study abroad, participate in internships and continue research endeavors. I hope that we can use these next months to recharge and return this fall with a restored sense of purpose and community. Paula and I encourage you all to take time to rest and, if needed, to reach out for support.

It is my honor to serve as your president. Go Owls!

With gratitude,

President Reginald DesRoches

Campus Location

Allen Center, Suite 440
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005

Mailing Address

Office of the President–MS 1
Rice University
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892

Contact Information