Dear Rice Community,
Welcome back to our beautiful campus! I hope you had a festive, restful winter break with family and friends. Paula and I enjoyed having all of our children in town under one roof to celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year. We both hope you, like us, feel rejuvenated and that you’re looking forward to the many exciting things we have going on at Rice in 2023.
Last week, as people began to trickle back onto campus, I ran into several students who were moving back into their colleges or who were moving into their colleges for the first time — and that special buzz of excitement was palpable. Please join me in welcoming our 26 new undergraduate students (20 transfer and six new), 96 new graduate students (18 doctoral and 78 master’s) and 28 new MBA@Rice students.
It was especially satisfying to see students moving into the new Hanszen College wing, which is the first residential mass timber building in Houston. The five-story, 50,000-square-foot building offers spacious residential quarters and open common spaces. For a video introduction to the new wing, click here.
In addition to our new students, we also have five new faculty on campus this semester: Ilana Gershon is joining the School of Social Sciences; Leslie Hewitt and Kenneth Tam are new to the School of Humanities; and Kai Gong and Lei Li are joining the School of Engineering. Please extend a warm welcome to them when you meet them in the classroom or on campus.
I also welcome the many new staff members joining our community. Your work and talents are critical to the university’s mission.
This semester brings the launch of an important campuswide effort: the university’s strategic planning process. The new strategic plan will articulate Rice’s vision for the next 10 years, define how the university will focus its resources to realize the vision, outline metrics that will allow Rice to measure progress against our strategic goals and propose strategies to achieve those goals. Stay tuned for more information on how you can lend your voice to the plan. I look forward to hearing your ideas on where Rice should be headed over the next decade.
Over the next months, you will also continue to see progress made on our many building and infrastructure projects, including Cannady Hall, which will serve the School of Architecture, and the Ralph S. O’Connor Building for Engineering and Science, which is slated to open this summer.
We will continue to move forward with our sustainability goals; our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; and initiatives to grow Rice’s research enterprise and strengthen both our undergraduate and graduate programs.
Paula and I look forward to cheering our student athletes and encourage you to do the same. Rice baseball and track and field compete this semester. Golf, tennis and swimming will be in full swing as well.
The university’s vibrant arts and culture programming will feature a range of engaging events, including the Moody Center for the Arts’ new exhibit, “Narrative Threads,” which opens Jan. 13, and a special Shepherd School of Music family concert, “Parizade and the Singing Tree: A Tale from The Arabian Nights,” Jan. 28. The Baker Institute for Public Policy, the Ion innovation hub and others campuswide will also be hosting timely and intriguing events for the Rice and Greater Houston communities. I hope you can find the time to enjoy some of them.
In closing, and as we find ourselves in a post-pandemic world, I want to assure our students that we understand the stress and challenges you have faced and are facing. We want you to take care of yourselves physically, emotionally and mentally. If you need to talk to someone, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Wellbeing and Counseling Center. This is an important resource for care on our campus, one we are continually modifying and updating to meet the needs of our students.
At Rice, we take care of each other. We collaborate and help each other succeed. These values are part of our culture of care. I look forward to seeing you on campus and wish everyone a productive semester.
President Reginald DesRoches