Our Next President

Announcement from Rob Ladd, Chairman of Rice University’s Board of Trustees

Today is an important day in Rice University’s history. I have the honor of announcing that the Board of Trustees has unanimously selected the next president of Rice.

The search for our next president began approximately four months ago when President Leebron announced his plans to complete his 18 year tenure in June of next year. Thanks in large measure to David’s remarkable accomplishments during this era in Rice’s history, there was great interest among potential candidates as we began our search.

The search committee we formed included two students, three faculty members and 10 trustees. With the expert assistance of our search firm, we identified many highly qualified candidates from around the United States. This was truly a national search.

From a larger pool, we focused on 10 exceptional candidates, all of whom are from top AAU research universities, many of them from institutions ranked among the top 10 in the nation. As we reviewed the candidates, we focused on two critical traits.

First, we were seeking a proven leader who would be transformational, leading Rice to even greater stature in national recognition, focusing on retention and recruitment of our great faculty, and continuing to build excellence in all that we do at Rice -- excellence in all areas from Architecture, the Arts, Humanities, Music, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Business, Continuing Studies and Athletics.

Second, and just as important, we were seeking a leader who would inspire and gain the respect of everyone. We wanted a leader who is empathetic, courageous, visionary, strategic and kind. We looked for a leader not only for Rice, but also our broader community.

In the end, we concluded one candidate would be the most impactful for Rice. Reginald DesRoches will be the next president of Rice University.

Reggie was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and grew up in the Queens borough of New York City. His love of science and math led him to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. He earned masters and Ph.D. degrees at the University of California, Berkeley, and he became a nationally recognized expert on earthquake resilience.

He taught engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and became chairman of his department before joining us here at Rice in 2017.

Anyone who has worked with Reggie after his arrival as dean of engineering understands why President Leebron named him as provost in 2020. Anyone who has worked with him as our chief academic officer understands why he emerged as the leading candidate to become our next president. If you would like to know more on his background, you can find more in the news release the university issued announcing his selection at this link.

Reggie’s wife Paula is the director of employee health and occupational medicine at Houston Methodist. They have three children: Andrew, Jacob and Shelby. I’m happy to note that their daughter, Shelby, is a Rice student in the Class of ‘23. And she’s on the Owls’ soccer team!

President Leebron will continue in his post until June 30, 2022. President-elect DesRoches will assume the leadership of Rice on July 1, 2022.

Please join me in thanking President Leebron for 18 extraordinary years of service and congratulating our next president, Reginald DesRoches.