Rice University, officially William Marsh Rice University, is a private research university located on a 295-acre campus in Houston, Texas, United States. The university is situated near the Houston Museum District and is adjacent to the Texas Medical Center. Rice is generally considered the foremost university and the most selective institution of higher education in the state of Texas.
Opened in 1912 after the murder of its namesake William Marsh Rice, Rice is now a research university with an undergraduate focus. Its emphasis on education is demonstrated by a small student body and 6:1 student-faculty ratio, and it has been nationally recognized as a leading university for undergraduate teaching. The university has a very high level of research activity for its size, with $140.2 million in sponsored research funding in 2016. Rice is noted for its applied science programs in the fields of artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, signal processing, space science, and nanotechnology. It was ranked first in the world in materials science research by the Times Higher Education (THE) in 2010. Rice is a member of the Association of American Universities.
The university is organized into eleven residential colleges and eight schools of academic study, including the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the School of Social Sciences, School of Architecture, Shepherd School of Music and the School of Humanities. Undergraduates select from more than fifty majors and two dozen minors, and have a high level of flexibility in pursuing multiple degree programs. Additional graduate programs are offered through the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business and the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Rice students are bound by the strict Honor Code, which is enforced by a student-run Honor Council.
Rice competes in 14 NCAA Division I varsity sports and is a part of Conference USA, often competing with its cross-town rival the University of Houston. Intramural and club sports are offered in a wide variety of activities such as jiu jitsu, water polo, and crew. The university ranks very highly in surveys of student satisfaction, with students frequently citing the residential system as instrumental to creating close community. In the latest Princeton Review rankings, Rice ranked as the top university in "quality of life" and "lots of race/class interaction," and the second in terms of "happiest students".
The university has produced numerous prominent alumni, including more than two dozen Marshall Scholars and a dozen Rhodes Scholars. Given the university's close links to NASA, it has produced a disproportionate number of astronauts and space scientists. In business, Rice graduates have become CEOs and founders of Fortune 500 companies; in politics, alumni have won positions as congressmen, cabinet secretaries, judges, and mayors. Two alumni have won the Nobel Prize, and numerous others are leading researchers in science, technology, and engineering.
The history of Rice University began with the untimely demise of Massachusetts businessman William Marsh Rice, who made his fortune in real estate, railroad development and cotton trading in the state of Texas. In 1891, Rice decided to charter a free-tuition educational institute in Houston, bearing his name, to be created upon his death, earmarking most of his estate towards funding the project. Rice's will specified the institution was to be "a competitive institution of the highest grade" and that only white students would be permitted to attend. On the morning of September 23, 1900, Rice, age 84, was found dead by his valet, and presumed to have died in his sleep. Shortly thereafter, a suspiciously large check made out to Rice's New York City lawyer, signed by the late Rice, was noticed by a bank teller due to a misspelling in the recipient's name. The lawyer, Albert T. Patrick, then announced that Rice had changed his will to leave the bulk of his fortune to Patrick, rather than to the creation of Rice's educational institute. A subsequent investigation led by the District Attorney of New York resulted in the arrests of Patrick and of Rice's butler and valet Charles F. Jones, who had been persuaded to administer chloroform to Rice while he slept. Rice's friend and personal lawyer in Houston, James A. Baker, Sr., aided in the discovery of what turned out to be a fake will with a forged signature. Jones was not prosecuted since he cooperated with the district attorney, and testified against Patrick. Patrick was found guilty of conspiring to steal Rice's fortune and convicted of murder in 1901, although he was pardoned in 1912 due to conflicting medical testimony. Baker helped Rice's estate direct the fortune, worth $4.6 million in 1904 ($125 million today), towards the founding of what was to be called the Rice Institute. The board took control of the assets on April 29 of that year.
In 1907, the Board of Trustees selected the head of the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy at Princeton University, Edgar Odell Lovett, to head the Institute, which was still in the planning stages. He came recommended by Princeton's president, Woodrow Wilson. In 1908, Lovett accepted the challenge, and was formally inaugurated as the Institute's first president on October 12, 1912. Lovett undertook extensive research before formalizing plans for the new Institute, including visits to 78 institutions of higher learning across the world on a long tour between 1908 and 1909. Lovett was impressed by such things as the aesthetic beauty of the uniformity of the architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, a theme which was adopted by the Institute, as well as the residential college system at Cambridge University in England, which was added to the Institute several decades later. Lovett called for the establishment of a university "of the highest grade," "an institution of liberal and technical learning" devoted "quite as much to investigation as to instruction." [We must] "keep the standards up and the numbers down," declared Lovett. "The most distinguished teachers must take their part in undergraduate teaching, and their spirit should dominate it all."
In 1911 the cornerstone was laid for the Institute's first building, the Administration Building, now known as Lovett Hall in honor of the founding president. On September 23, 1912, the anniversary of William Marsh Rice's murder, the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Letters, Science, and Art began course work. 48 male and 29 female students were enrolled, paying no tuition, with classes taught by a dozen faculty. Unusual for the time, Rice accepted coeducational admissions.
Three weeks after opening, a spectacular international academic festival was held in celebration, bringing Rice to the attention of the entire academic world. Four years later, at the first commencement ceremony, 35 bachelor's degrees and one master's degree were awarded. That year, the student body voted to adopt the Honor System, which still exists today. The first doctorate was conferred in 1918 on mathematician Hubert Evelyn Bray.
During World War II, Rice Institute was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.
The Founder's Memorial Statue, a bronze statue of a seated William Marsh Rice, holding the original plans for the campus, was dedicated in 1930, and installed in the central academic quad, facing Lovett Hall. The statue was crafted by John Angel. The residential college system proposed by President Lovett was adopted in 1958, with the East Hall residence becoming Baker College, South Hall residence becoming Will Rice College, West Hall becoming Hanszen College, and the temporary Wiess Hall becoming Wiess College.
In 1959, the Rice Institute Computer went online. 1960 saw Rice Institute formally renamed William Marsh Rice University. Rice acted as a temporary intermediary in the transfer of land between Humble Oil and Refining Company and NASA, for the creation of NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center (now called Johnson Space Center) in 1962. President John F. Kennedy then made a speech at Rice Stadium reiterating that the United States intended to reach the moon before the end of the decade of the 1960s, and "to become the world's leading space-faring nation". The relationship of NASA with Rice University and the city of Houston has remained strong to the present day[update].
The original charter of Rice Institute dictated that the university admit and educate, tuition-free, "the white inhabitants of Houston, and the state of Texas". In 1963, the governing board of Rice University filed a lawsuit to allow the university to modify its charter to admit students of all races and to charge tuition. In 1964, Rice officially amended the university charter to desegregate its graduate and undergraduate divisions. The Trustees of Rice University prevailed in a lawsuit to void the racial language in the trust in 1966. Rice began charging tuition for the first time in 1965. In the same year, Rice launched a $33 million ($256 million) development campaign. $43 million ($271 million) was raised by its conclusion in 1970. In 1974, two new schools were founded at Rice, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management and the Shepherd School of Music. The Brown Foundation Challenge, a fund-raising program designed to encourage annual gifts, was launched in 1976 and ended in 1996 having raised $185 million ($289 million). The Rice School of Social Sciences was founded in 1979.
On-campus housing was exclusively for men for the first forty years. Jones College was the first women's residence on the Rice campus, followed by Brown College. According to legend, the women's colleges were purposefully situated at the opposite end of campus from the existing men's colleges as a way of preserving campus propriety, which was greatly valued by Edgar Odell Lovett, who did not even allow benches to be installed on campus, fearing that they "might lead to co-fraternization of the sexes". The path linking the north colleges to the center of campus was given the tongue-in-cheek name of "Virgin's Walk". Individual colleges became coeducational between 1973 and 1987, with the single-sex floors of colleges that had them becoming co-ed by 2006. By then, several new residential colleges had been built on campus to handle the university's growth, including Lovett College, Sid Richardson College, and Martel College.
The Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations was held at Rice in 1990. In 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy was created. In 1997, the Edythe Bates Old Grand Organ and Recital Hall and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, renamed in 2005 for the late Nobel Prize winner and Rice professor Richard E. Smalley, were dedicated at Rice. In 1999, the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology was created. The Rice Owls baseball team was ranked #1 in the nation for the first time in that year (1999), holding the top spot for eight weeks.
In 2003, the Owls won their first national championship in baseball, which was the first for the university in any team sport, beating Southwest Missouri State in the opening game and then the University of Texas and Stanford University twice each en route to the title. In 2008, President David Leebron issued a ten-point plan titled "Vision for the Second Century" outlining plans to increase research funding, strengthen existing programs, and increase collaboration. The plan has brought about another wave of campus constructions, including the erection the newly renamed BioScience Research Collaborative building (intended to foster collaboration with the adjacent Texas Medical Center), a new recreational center and the renovated Autry Court basketball stadium, and the addition of two new residential colleges, Duncan College and McMurtry College.
Beginning in late 2008, the university considered a merger with Baylor College of Medicine, though the merger was ultimately rejected in 2010. Select Rice undergraduates are currently guaranteed admission to Baylor College of Medicine upon graduation as part of the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars program. According to History Professor John Boles' recent book University Builder: Edgar Odell Lovett and the Founding of the Rice Institute, the first president's original vision for the university included hopes for future medical and law schools.
Five streets demarcate the campus: Greenbriar Street, Rice Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Main Street, and University Boulevard. For most of its history, all of Rice's buildings have been contained within this "outer loop". In recent years, new facilities have been built close to campus, but the bulk of administrative, academic, and residential buildings are still located within the original pentagonal plot of land. The new Collaborative Research Center, all graduate student housing, the Greenbriar building, and the Wiess President's House are located off-campus.
Rice prides itself on the amount of green space available on campus; there are only about 50 buildings spread between the main entrance at its easternmost corner, and the parking lots and Rice Stadium at the West end. The Lynn R. Lowrey Arboretum, consisting of more than 4000 trees and shrubs (giving birth to the legend that Rice has a tree for every student), is spread throughout the campus.
The university's first president, Edgar Odell Lovett, intended for the campus to have a uniform architecture style to improve its aesthetic appeal. To that end, nearly every building on campus is noticeably Byzantine in style, with sand and pink-colored bricks, large archways and columns being a common theme among many campus buildings. Noteworthy exceptions include the glass-walled Brochstein Pavilion, Lovett College with its Brutalist-style concrete gratings, and the eclectic-Mediterranean Duncan Hall. In September 2011, Travel+Leisure listed Rice's campus as one of the most beautiful in the United States.
Lovett Hall, named for Rice's visionary first president, is the university's most iconic campus building. Through its Sallyport arch, new students symbolically enter the university during matriculation and depart as graduates at commencement. Duncan Hall, Rice's computational engineering building, was designed to encourage collaboration between the four different departments situated there. The building's colorful Martel Foyer, drawn from many world cultures, was designed by the architect to symbolically express this collaborative purpose.
The campus is organized in a number of quadrangles. The Academic Quad, anchored by a statue of founder William Marsh Rice, includes Ralph Adams Cram's masterpiece, the asymmetrical Lovett Hall, the original administrative building; Fondren Library; Herzstein Hall, the original physics building and home to the largest amphitheater on campus; Sewall Hall for the social sciences and arts; Rayzor Hall for the languages; and Anderson Hall of the Architecture department. The Humanities Building, winner of several architectural awards, is immediately adjacent to the main quad. Further west lies a quad surrounded by McNair Hall of the Jones Business School, the Baker Institute, and Alice Pratt Brown Hall of the Shepherd School of Music. These two quads are surrounded by the university's main access road, a one-way loop referred to as the "inner loop". In the Engineering Quad, a trinity of sculptures by Michael Heizer, collectively entitled 45 Degrees, 90 Degrees, 180 Degrees, are flanked by Abercrombie Laboratory, the Cox Building, and the Mechanical Laboratory, housing the Electrical, Mechanical, and Earth Science/Civil Engineering departments, respectively. Duncan Hall is the latest addition to this quad, providing new offices for the Computer Science, Computational and Applied Math, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Statistics departments.
Roughly three-quarters of Rice's undergraduate population lives on campus. Housing is divided among eleven residential colleges, which form an integral part of student life at the university (see Residential colleges of Rice University). The colleges are named for university historical figures and benefactors, and while there is wide variation in their appearance, facilities, and dates of founding, are an important source of identity for Rice students, functioning as dining halls, residence halls, sports teams, among other roles. Rice does not have or endorse a Greek system, with the residential college system taking its place. Five colleges, McMurtry, Duncan, Martel, Jones, and Brown are located on the north side of campus, across from the "South Colleges", Baker, Will Rice, Lovett, Hanszen, Sid Richardson, and Wiess, on the other side of the Academic Quadrangle. Of the eleven colleges, Baker is the oldest, originally built in 1912, and the twin Duncan and McMurtry colleges are the newest, and opened for the first time for the 2009-10 school year. Will Rice, Baker, and Lovett colleges are undergoing renovation to expand their dining facilities as well as the number of rooms available for students.
The on-campus football facility, Rice Stadium, opened in 1950 with a capacity of 70,000 seats. After improvements in 2006, the stadium is currently configured to seat 47,000 for football but can readily be reconfigured to its original capacity of 70,000, more than the total number of Rice alumni, living and deceased. The stadium was the site of Super Bowl VIII and a speech by John F. Kennedy on September 12, 1962 in which he challenged the nation to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. The recently renovated Tudor Fieldhouse, formerly known as Autry Court, is home to the basketball and volleyball teams. Other stadia include the Rice Track/Soccer Stadium and the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium. A new Rec Center now houses the intramural sports offices and provide an outdoor pool, training and exercise facilities for all Rice students, while athletics training will solely be held at Tudor Fieldhouse and the Rice Football Stadium.
The university and Houston Independent School District jointly established The Rice School, a kindergarten through 8th grade public magnet school in Houston. The school opened in August 1994. Through Cy-Fair ISD Rice University offers a credit course based summer school for grades 8 through 12. They also have skills based classes during the summer in the Rice Summer School.
Rice University is chartered as a non-profit organization and is governed by a privately appointed board of trustees. The board consists of a maximum of 25 voting members who serve four-year terms. The trustees serve without compensation and a simple majority of trustees must reside in Texas, including at least 4 within the greater Houston area. The board of trustees delegates its power by appointing a President to serve as the chief executive of the university. David W. Leebron was appointed President in 2004 and succeeded Malcolm Gillis who served since 1993. The provost, six vice presidents, and other university officials report to the President. The President is advised by a University Council composed of the Provost, eight members of the Faculty Council, two staff members, one graduate student, and two undergraduate students. The President presides over a Faculty Council which has the authority to alter curricular requirements, establish new degree programs, and approve candidates for degrees.
Undergraduate and Graduate Schools
Rice's undergraduate students benefit from a centralized admissions process, which admits new students to the university as a whole, rather than a specific school (the schools of Music and Architecture are decentralized). Students are encouraged to select the major path that best suits their desires; a student can later decide that they would rather pursue study in another field, or continue their current coursework and add a second or third major. These transitions are designed to be simple at Rice, with students not required to decide on a specific major until their sophomore year of study.
Rice's academics are organized into six schools which offer courses of study at the graduate and undergraduate level, with two more being primarily focused on graduate education, while offering select opportunities for undergraduate students. Rice offers 360 degrees in over 60 departments. There are 40 undergraduate degree programs, 51 masters programs, and 29 doctoral programs.
Undergraduate tuition for the 2011-2012 school year is $34,900. $651 is charged for fees, and Rice projects an $800 budget for books and $1550 for personal expenses. Rice students are charged $12,270 for room and board. Per year, the total cost of a Rice University education is $50,171.
Faculty members of each of the departments elect chairs to represent the department to each School's dean and the deans report to the Provost who serves as the chief officer for academic affairs.
Rice is a medium-sized, highly residential research university. The majority of enrollments are in the full-time, four-year undergraduate program emphasizing arts & sciences and professions. There is a high graduate coexistence with the comprehensive graduate program and a very high level of research activity. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as well as the professional accreditation agencies for engineering, management, and architecture.
Each of Rice's departments is organized into one of three distribution groups, and students whose major lies within the scope of one group must take at least 12 credit hours of approved distribution classes in each of the other two groups, as well as completing one physical education course as part of the LPAP (Lifetime Physical Activity Program) requirement. All new students must take a Freshman Writing Intensive Seminar (FWIS) class, and for students who do not pass the university's writing composition examination (administered during the summer before matriculation), FWIS 100, a writing class, becomes an additional requirement.
The majority of Rice's undergraduate degree programs grant B.S. or B.A. degrees. Rice has recently begun to offer minors in areas such as business, energy and water sustainability, and global health.
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Men make up 52% of the undergraduate body and 64% of the professional and post-graduate student body as of fall 2014. The student body consists of students from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, two U.S. Territories, and 83 foreign countries. Forty percent of degree-seeking students are from Texas.
The Rice Honor Code plays an integral role in academic affairs. Almost all Rice exams are unproctored and professors give timed, closed-book exams that students take home and complete at their own convenience. Potential infractions are reported to the student Honor Council, elected by popular vote. The penalty structure is established every year by Council consensus; typically, penalties have ranged from a letter of reprimand to an 'F' in the course and a two semester suspension. During Orientation Week, students must take and pass a test demonstrating that they understand the Honor System's requirements and sign a Matriculation Pledge. On assignments, Rice students affirm their commitment to the Honor Code by writing On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this (examination, quiz or paper).
Rice is noted for its pioneer applied science programs in the fields of nanotechnology, artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, and space science, being ranked 1st in the world in materials science research by the Times Higher Education (THE) in 2010.
For fall 2015, Rice received 17,951 freshmen applications; 2,865 were admitted (16.0%) and 969 enrolled. The middle 50% range of SAT scores were 680-760 for critical reading, 710-800 for math, and 680-770 for writing; the middle 50% range of the ACT Composite score was 32-35.
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USNWR graduate school rankings
USNWR departmental rankings
In 2017, Rice was ranked 86th in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In 2016, Rice was ranked tied for 72nd internationally (38th nationally) by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Rice University was also ranked 90th globally in 2016 by QS World University Rankings. Rice is noted for its entrepreneurial activity, and has been recognized as the top ranked business incubator in the world by the Stockholm-based UBI Index for both 2013 and 2014.
Rice was ranked tied at 14th among national universities and 81st among global universities, and 3rd for "best undergraduate teaching" in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report in its 2018 edition. USNWR also ranked both the Jones Graduate School of Management and the Brown School of Engineering 29th in the nation in 2017. Forbes magazine ranked Rice University at 22nd nationally among both liberal arts colleges and universities in 2017. Kiplinger's Personal Finance places Rice 4th in its 2015 ranking of best value private universities in the United States.
The Princeton Review ranked Rice 1st for "Best Quality of Life" and "Happiest Students" in its 2012 edition, 20th among LGBT friendliest colleges in its 2014 edition, and one of the top 50 best value private colleges in its 2011 edition. Rice was ranked 41st among research universities by the Center for Measuring University Performance in 2007. Consumer's Digest ranked Rice 3rd on the list of top 5 values in private colleges in its June 2011 issue. Fiske Guide to Colleges ranked Rice as one of the top 25 private "best buy" schools in its 2012 edition. In 2011 the Leiden Ranking, which measures the performance of 500 major research universities worldwide, using metrics designed to measure research impact ranked Rice 4th Globally, for effectiveness and contribution of research. In 2013 the university was again ranked first globally for quality of research in natural sciences and engineering, and 6th globally for all sciences. In 2014, The Daily Beast ranked Rice 14th out of nearly 2,000 schools it evaluated. In 2016, Money Magazine ranked Rice 4th in the nation.
Situated on nearly 300 acres (120 ha) in the center of Houston's Museum District and across the street from the city's Hermann Park, Rice is a green and leafy refuge – an oasis of learning convenient to the amenities of the nation's fourth-largest city. Rice's campus adjoins Hermann Park, the Texas Medical Center, and a neighborhood commercial center called Rice Village. Hermann Park includes the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre and an 18-hole municipal golf course. Reliant Park, home of Reliant Stadium and the Astrodome, is two miles (3 km) south of the campus. Among the dozen or so museums in the Museum District is the Rice University Art Gallery, open during the school year. Easy access to downtown's theater and nightlife district and to Reliant Park is provided by the Houston METRORail system, with a station adjacent to the campus's main gate. The campus recently joined the Zipcar program with two vehicles to increase the transportation options for students and staff who need but currently don't utilize a vehicle.
In 1957, Rice University implemented a residential college system, as proposed by the university's first president, Edgar Odell Lovett. The system was inspired by existing systems in place at Oxford and Cambridge in England and at several other universities in the United States, most notably Yale University. The existing residences known as East, South, West, and Wiess Halls became Baker, Will Rice, Hanszen, and Wiess Colleges, respectively.
This is a list of residential colleges at Rice:
Although each college is composed of a full cross-section of students at Rice, they have over time developed their own traditions and "personalities". When students matriculate they are randomly assigned to one of the eleven colleges, although "legacy" exceptions are made for students whose siblings or parents have attended Rice  . Students generally remain members of the college that they are assigned to for the duration of their undergraduate careers, even if they move off-campus at any point. Students are guaranteed on-campus housing for freshman year and two of the next three years; each college has its own system for determining allocation of the remaining spaces, collectively known as "Room Jacking". Students develop strong loyalties to their college and maintain friendly rivalry with other colleges, especially during events such as Beer Bike Race and O-Week. Colleges keep their rivalries alive by performing "jacks," or pranks, on each other, especially during O-Week and Willy Week. During Matriculation, Commencement, and other formal academic ceremonies, the colleges process in the order in which they were established.
The Baker 13 is a tradition in which students run around campus wearing nothing but shoes and shaving cream at 10 p.m. on the 13th and the 31st of every month, as well as the 26th on months with fewer than 31 days. The event, long sponsored by Baker College, usually attracts a small number of students, but Halloween night and the first and last relevant days of the school year both attract large numbers of revelers.
According to the official website: "Beer Bike is a combination intramural bicycle race and drinking competition dating back to 1957. Ten riders and ten chuggers make up a team. Elaborate rules include details such as a prohibition of "bulky or wet clothing articles designed to absorb beer/water or prevent spilled beer/water from being seen" and regulations for chug can design. Each residential college as well as the Graduate Student Association participates with a men's team, a women's team, and alumni (co-ed) team. Each leg of the race is a relay in which a team's "chugger" must chug 24 US fluid ounces (710 ml) of beer or water for the men's division and 12 US fluid ounces (350 ml) for women before the team's "rider" may begin to ride. Participants who both ride and chug are referred to as "Ironmen". Willy Week is a term coined in the 1990s to refer to the week preceding Beer-Bike, a time of general energy and excitement on campus. Jacks (pranks) are especially common during Willy Week; some examples in the past include removing showerheads and encasing the Hanszen guardian." The morning of the Beer Bike race itself begins with what is by some estimations the largest annual water balloon fight in the world. Beer-Bike is Rice's most prominent student event, and for younger alumni it serves as an unofficial reunion weekend on par with Homecoming. The 2009 Beer Bike race was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bill Wilson, a popular professor and long-time resident associate of Wiess College who died earlier that year.
In the event of inclement weather, Beer Bike becomes a Beer Run. The rules are nearly identical, except that the Bikers must instead run the length of the track. The most recent Beer Run was won by Martel in 2016.
A number of on-campus institutions form an integral part of student life at Rice. Many of these organizations have been operating for several decades.
Rice Coffeehouse finds its beginnings in Hanszen College, where students would serve coffee in the Weenie Loft, a study room in the old section's fourth floor. Later, the coffee house moved to the Hanszen basement to accommodate more student patrons. That coffeehouse became known as Breadsticks and Pomegranates. Due to flooding, an unfortunate effect of 1) its location in the basement and 2) the Houston climate, this coffee house closed. Demand for an on-campus Coffeehouse grew and in 1990, the Rice Coffeehouse was founded.
The Rice Coffeehouse is a not-for-profit student-run organization serving Rice University and the greater Houston community. Over the past few years,[when?] it has introduced fair-trade and organic coffee and loose-leaf teas.
Coffeehouse baristas are referred to as K.O.C.'s, or Keepers of the Coffee. Rice Coffeehouse has also adopted an unofficial mascot, the squirrel, which can be found on T-shirts, mugs, and bumper stickers stuck on laptops across campus. The logo pays tribute to Rice's unusually plump and frighteningly tame squirrel population.
Valhalla is a non-profit graduate student pub located under Keck Hall which serves as the social nexus for graduate student life at Rice, and the pub is primarily staffed and managed by volunteer Rice graduate students. The pub's patrons have expanded beyond graduate students and other members of the local community in recent years, and the pub has become a regular on the annual "Best of Houston" published by the Houston Press, being named the "Best Place to Meet Single Women" in 2004.
Willy's Pub is Rice's undergraduate pub run by students located in the basement of the Rice Memorial Center. It opened on April 11, 1975, with Rice President Norman Hackerman pouring the first beer. The name was chosen by students in tribute to the university's founder, William Marsh Rice. After the drinking age in Texas was raised in 1986, the pub entered a period of financial difficulties and in April 1995, was destroyed in a fire. The space was gutted but renovated and remains open.
Rice Bikes is a full-service on-campus bicycle sale, rental, and repair shop. It originated in the basement of Sid Richardson College in February 2011. In 2012, Rice Bikes officially became the university's third student-run business. Rice Bikes merged with a student-run bicycle rental business in 2013, and operations moved to the Rice Memorial Center in 2014. In 2017, the business moved to the garage of the Rice Housing and Dining department's headquarters.
Rice Bikes sells refurbished bicycles bought from students and functions as a full bicycle repair shop.
Rice has a weekly student newspaper (The Rice Thresher), college radio station (KTRU Rice Radio), and campus-wide student television station (RTV5). All three are based out of the RMC student center. In addition, Rice hosts several student magazines dedicated to a range of different topics; in fact, the spring semester of 2008 saw the birth of two such magazines, a literary sex journal called Open and an undergraduate science research magazine entitled Catalyst.
The Rice Thresher is published every Wednesday and is ranked by Princeton Review as one of the top campus newspapers nationally for student readership. It is distributed around campus, and at a few other local businesses and has a website. The Thresher has a small, dedicated staff and is known for its coverage of campus news, open submission opinion page, and the satirical Backpage, which has often been the center of controversy. The newspaper has won several awards at Associated Collegiate Press conferences.
KTRU Rice Radio is the student-run radio station. Though most DJs are Rice students, anyone is allowed to apply. It is known for playing genres and artists of music and sound unavailable on other radio stations in Houston, and often, the US. The station takes requests over the phone or online. In 2000 and 2006, KTRU won Houston Press' Best Radio Station in Houston. In 2003, Rice alum and active KTRU DJ DL's hip-hip show won Houston Press' Best Hip-hop Radio Show. On August 17, 2010, it was announced that Rice University had been in negotiations to sell the station's broadcast tower, FM frequency and license to the University of Houston System to become a full-time classical music and fine arts programming station. The new station, KUHA, would be operated as a not-for-profit outlet with listener supporters. The FCC approved the sale and granted the transfer of license to the University of Houston System on April 15, 2011, however, KUHA proved to be an even larger failure and so after four and a half years of operation, The University of Houston System announced that KUHA's broadcast tower, FM frequency and license were once again up for sale in August 2015. KTRU continued to operate much as it did previously, streaming live on the Internet, via apps, and on HD2 radio using the 90.1 signal. Under student leadership, KTRU explored the possibility of returning to FM radio for a number of years. In spring 2015, KTRU was granted permission by the FCC to begin development of a new broadcast signal via LPFM radio. On October 1, 2015, KTRU made its official return to FM radio on the 96.1 signal. While broadcasting on HD2 radio has been discontinued, KTRU continues to broadcast via internet in addition to its LPFM signal.
RTV5 is a student-run television network available as channel 5 on campus. RTV5 was created initially as Rice Broadcast Television in 1997; RBT began to broadcast the following year in 1998, and aired its first live show across campus in 1999. It experienced much growth and exposure over the years with successful programs like "Drinking with Phil," a weekly news show, and extensive live coverage in December 2000 of the shut down of KTRU by the administration. In spring 2001, the Rice undergraduate community voted in the general elections to support RBT as a blanket tax organization, effectively providing a yearly income of $10,000 to purchase new equipment and provide the campus with a variety of new programming. In the spring of 2005, RBT members decided the station needed a new image and a new name: Rice Television 5. The station has recently set about revitalizing its staff roster and campus image; one of RTV5's most popular shows is the 24-hour show, where a camera and couch placed in the RMC stay on air for 24 hours. One such show is held in fall and another in spring, usually during a weekend allocated for visits by prospective students. RTV5 has a video on demand site at rtv5.rice.edu.
The Rice Review, also known as R2, is a yearly student-run literary journal at Rice University that publishes prose, poetry, and creative nonfiction written by undergraduate students, as well as interviews. The journal was founded in 2004 by creative writing professor and author Justin Cronin.
The Rice Standard is an independent, student-run variety magazine modeled after such publications as The New Yorker and Harper's. Prior to fall 2009, it was regularly published three times a semester with a wide array of content, running from analyses of current events and philosophical pieces to personal essays, short fiction and poetry. In August 2009, the Standard transitioned to a completely online format with the launch of their redesigned website, ricestandard.org. The first website of its kind on Rice's campus, the Standard now features blog-style content written by and for Rice students. The Rice Standard has around 20 regular contributors, and the site features new content every day (including holidays).
Open, a magazine dedicated to "literary sex content," predictably caused a stir on campus with its initial publication in spring 2008. A mixture of essays, editorials, stories and artistic photography brought Open attention both on campus and in the Houston Chronicle. The third and last annual edition of Open was released in spring of 2010.
Rice participates in NCAA Division I athletics and is part of Conference USA. Rice was a member of the Western Athletic Conference before joining Conference USA in 2005. Rice is the second-smallest school, measured by undergraduate enrollment, competing in NCAA Division I FBS football, only ahead of Tulsa.
The Rice baseball team won the 2003 College World Series, defeating Stanford, giving Rice its only national championship in a team sport. The victory made Rice University the smallest school in 51 years to win a national championship at the highest collegiate level of the sport. The Rice baseball team has played on campus at Reckling Park since the 2000 season. As of 2010, the baseball team has won 14 consecutive conference championships in three different conferences: the final championship of the defunct Southwest Conference, all nine championships while a member of the Western Athletic Conference, and five more championships in its first five years as a member of Conference USA. Additionally, Rice's baseball team has finished third in both the 2006 and 2007 College World Series tournaments. Rice now has made six trips to Omaha for the CWS. In 2004, Rice became the first school ever to have three players selected in the first eight picks of the MLB draft when Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Townsend were selected third, fourth, and eighth, respectively. In 2007, Joe Savery was selected as the 19th overall pick.
In 2006, the football team qualified for its first bowl game since 1961, ending the second-longest bowl drought in the country at the time. On December 22, 2006, Rice played in the New Orleans Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana against the Sun Belt Conference champion, Troy. The Owls lost 41-17. The bowl appearance came after Rice had a 14-game losing streak from 2004–05 and went 1-10 in 2005. The streak followed an internally authorized 2003 McKinsey report that stated football alone was responsible for a $4 million deficit in 2002. Tensions remained high between the athletic department and faculty, as a few professors who chose to voice their opinion were in favor of abandoning the football program. The program success in 2006, the "Rice Renaissance," proved to be a revival of the Owl football program, quelling those tensions. David Bailiff took over the program in 2007 and has remained head coach. Jarett Dillard set an NCAA record in 2006 by catching a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games and took a 15-game overall streak into the 2007 season.
In 2008, the football team posted a 9-3 regular season, capping off the year with a 38-14 victory over Western Michigan University in the Texas Bowl. The win over Western Michigan marked the Owls' first bowl win in 45 years.
Rice Stadium also serves as the performance venue for the university's Marching Owl Band, or "MOB." Despite its name, the MOB is a scatter band that focuses on performing humorous skits and routines rather than traditional formation marching.
Rice Owls men's basketball won 10 conference titles in the former Southwest Conference (1918, 1935*, 1940, 1942*, 1943*, 1944*, 1945, 1949*, 1954*, 1970; * denotes shared title). Most recently, guard Morris Almond was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz. Rice recently named former Cal Bears head coach Ben Braun as head basketball coach to succeed Willis Wilson, fired after Rice finished the 2007-2008 season with a winless (0-16) conference record and overall record of 3-27.
Rice has been very successful in women's sports in recent years. In 2004-05, Rice sent its women's volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams to their respective NCAA tournaments. In 2005-06, the women's soccer, basketball, and tennis teams advanced, with five individuals competing in track and field. In 2006-07, the Rice women's basketball team made the NCAA tournament, while again five Rice track and field athletes received individual NCAA berths. In 2008, the women's volleyball team again made the NCAA tournament. In 2011 the Women's Swim team won their first conference championship in the history of the university. This was an impressive feat considering they won without having a diving team. In 2017, the women's basketball team, led by second-year head coach Tina Langley, won the Women's Basketball Invitational, defeating UNC-Greensboro 74-62 in the championship game at Tudor Fieldhouse. Though not a varsity sport, ultimate frisbee is where Rice has seen the most success; Rice's women's team, named Torque, won consecutive Division III national championships in 2014 and 2015.
Rice's mascot is Sammy the Owl. In previous decades, the university kept several live owls on campus in front of Lovett College, but this practice has been discontinued, due to public pressure over the welfare of the owls.
Rice also has a 12-member coed cheerleading squad and a coed dance team, both of which perform at football and basketball games throughout the year.
As of 2011, Rice has graduated 98 classes of students consisting of 51,961 living alumni. Over 100 students at Rice have been Fulbright Scholars, 25 Marshall Scholars, 25 Mellon Fellows, 12 Rhodes Scholars, 6 Udall Scholars, and 65 Watson Fellows, among several other honors and awards.
Rice's distinguished faculty and alumni consists of three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize award winners, six Fulbright Scholars, 29 Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Recipients, eight members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one member of the American Philosophical Society, 35 Guggenheim Fellowships, 17 members of the National Academy of Engineering, seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, five fellows of the National Humanities Center, and 86 fellows of the National Science Foundation.
In government and politics, Rice alumni include Alberto Gonzales, former Attorney General; Charles Duncan, former Secretary of Energy; William P. Hobby, Jr.; John Kline; George P. Bush; Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary for President Obama; Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for President Obama and Annise Parker, the 61st Mayor of Houston.
Rice alumni who became prominent writers include Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer Prize–winning author and Oscar-winning writer of the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain; Joyce Carol Oates, who was once a doctoral candidate in English; John Graves, author of Goodbye to a River; and Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City, who attended for three semesters.
Notable entrepreneurs who graduated from Rice include Tim and Karrie League, founders of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Drafthouse Films; and Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol, founders of Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
In science and technology, Rice alumni include 14 NASA astronauts; Robert Curl, Nobel Prize–winning discoverer of fullerene; Robert Woodrow Wilson, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation; David Eagleman, celebrity neuroscientist and NYT bestselling author; and NASA former Apollo 11 and 13 warning systems engineer and motivational speaker Jerry Woodfill. In engineering, Dr Powtawche Valerino, works for the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and worked on the Cassini mission.
Rice athletes include Lance Berkman, Bubba Crosby, Harold Solomon, Frank Ryan, Tommy Kramer, Jose Cruz, Jr., O.J. Brigance, Larry Izzo, James Casey, Courtney Hall, Bert Emanuel, Luke Willson, Tony Cingrani, Anthony Rendon, and Leo Rucka, as well as three Olympians (Funmi Jimoh '06, Allison Beckford '04, and William Fred Hansen '63).
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