Message to the Rice Community

Dear Colleagues and Students,

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.

We plan to charge the Task Force with the following:

  1. Develop and participate in the implementation of a plan for discovering, documenting, acknowledging, and disseminating Rice’s past with respect to slavery, segregation, and racial injustice, as well as an understanding of how that history may continue to inform and shape the present state of the university.
  2. Develop campus wide programming to support frank and honest discussion of Rice’s entanglement with slavery, segregation, and racial injustice, as well as opportunities for community members to envision paths for Rice moving forward. This will include the invitation of speakers to bring to campus to foster dialogue around these issues.
  3. Identify suggestions for Rice’s future for our students, our faculty and staff, and our relationship with our home community of Houston that will more fully realize our aspirations for a diverse and inclusive university.

For this effort to be successful, we will need broad engagement. At the beginning of the fall semester, we will seek your input and appoint the task force. We will also be consulting with the Faculty Senate, students, staff, and alumni organizations. In the meantime, we ask all to consider how to contribute to this effort, whether through participation in the task force itself, conducting research, or by engaging with the various programming efforts of the task force. If you have initial thoughts that you would like to share, please email president@rice.edu.

We wish you a productive and enjoyable summer.

Warm regards,

David W. Leebron
President

Marie Lynn Miranda
Howard R. Hughes Provost