A Lovett College freshman has partnered with his grandfather, longtime CBS Evening News anchor and journalist Dan Rather, to create the Rather Prize, a $10,000 reward for the best idea to improve education in the state of Texas.
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A task force of faculty, students and administration has begun the process of developing a new Quality Enhancement Plan for Rice University aimed at a measurable and fundamental improvement in student education.The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires Rice to create a QEP every 10 years. Rice’s previous QEP in 2006 created the Center for Civic Engagement, which is now the Center for Civic Leadership. The goal in opening the center was to better integrate the Rice and Houston communities by providing community-based research and civic engagement opportunities for students.The QEP Task Force is co-chaired by James Weston, a professor of finance at the Jones School of Business, and Susan MacIntosh, a professor of anthropology. Weston said the QEP will be spearheaded by Rice faculty and will incorporate input from the entire Rice’s community. Weston said he credits the lead of faculty to the overall goal of the program.“The purpose is an initiative to improve student learning, which makes it a curricular objective,” Weston said. “So if it’s a curricular objective, then it becomes a faculty initiative, but [we will] gather input from all stakeholders in the community— student, staff, alumni, administration, everybody.”Weston said the task force is currently launching a website that will allow everybody to submit their opinions regarding student learning.“We are in the process of casting as wide a net as possible,” Weston said. “We are looking at broadening the input to the entire community.”Weston said the task force will filter through the input submitted over the next six weeks.“The committee will give two [representative] proposals to the administration, Weston said. “Ultimately, it’s the president and the board’s decision about what we do.”According to Weston, though the QEP is required by SACS, the program is not being created simply because it is obligatory, but because it is what should be happening.“We are constantly in the process of developing and evolving curriculum,” Weston said. “And here’s an opportunity for us to point a focus on something that we’ve been up to or want to get up to and communicate that to our accreditation body.”Weston said the QEP’s goal is to significantly improve student learning outcomes. The key parts to making it a successful program are the administration and resources.“Whatever this initiative is, the university as an institution has agreed with this initiative and is putting resources in place to see it happen,” Weston said.
Secretary of the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council Allison Vogt is joining Rice University under the new role of Director of Sexual Violence Prevention and Title IX Support. Vogt began her new position on Nov. 1. With a master’s degree in social work from the University of Houston, Vogt previously worked at the Montrose Center, an LGBT wellness center in Houston that provides aid to the LGBT community. At the Montrose Center, Vogt worked with victims of domestic violence, hate crimes, human trafficking and sexual assault. Amongst Vogt’s duties at the Montrose Center were hospital and police accompaniment, shelter placement and education. Vogt said she believes her experience with the small and diverse Houston LGBT community translates well to her new position at Rice, another small and diverse community. “Having worked with the LGBT communities, I learned the importance of community advocacy and organizing,” Vogt said. “I feel these principles can [be] translated to the diverse students at Rice.”At the Montrose Center, Vogt was originally hired as an HIV case manager but later transitioned to helping with the anti-violence program. Vogt helped expand the Montrose Center’s anti-violence program by organizing community awareness about the presence of domestic violence, sexual assault and how to prevent violence in the community. However, Vogt said she credits the program’s success to community involvement.Similarly, Vogt believes the programs at Rice for healthy relationships and sexual violence education will succeed only if Rice students get involved. “We need students to give us feedback about programming and inform us about what’s happening on campus,” Vogt said. “We want to get students involved so we can meet students’ needs. We want the prevention program to be student informed and student oriented.” Vogt said she wants Rice to set the standard for universities across the country by becoming a campus known for its safety, with students who know how to live in an anti-violence community. “I would love to see Rice University’s students carry on the message of the program into their professional lives — creating cultures in their companies of being sexual violence and harassment free,” Vogt said.As the new Director of Sexual Violence Prevention, Vogt said she aims to connect Rice students with influences that can translate into their lives and equip them with the proper education. According to Vogt, the plan to achieve these objectives is to create programming that focuses on the topics of sex, sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as defining what consent is. “The programming is geared towards giving students the tools they need to be well educated and aware of sexual violence, in addition to carrying out healthy relationships in their personal lives,” Vogt said. According to Vogt, her department primarily wants to properly educate and prepare students for their lives after Rice. “[We want to] teach students how to have healthy relationships,” Vogt said. “We want to keep [the] campus safe and teach students how to exist in an environment with no sexual violence.”
The Rice University Police Department recently acquired new 2014 Chevrolet Tahoes for their patrol fleet. The new vehicles feature updated and enhanced exterior graphics, as well as a larger appearance and other exterior modifications.The funds for the new patrol Tahoes came from the university’s fiscal year 2014 operations budget. Chief of Police Johnny Whitehead said the police department requested funding for the new vehicles because of high mileage and maintenance of the old patrol vehicles.“The fleet is pretty aged,” Whitehead said. “We were spending so much on maintenance. When the cars are in the shop, you can’t put them out in patrol.” According to Whitehead, RUPD had several vehicles with high mileage — between 80,000 to 90,000 miles.“The maintenance costs were [also] very high,” Whitehead said. Whitehead said each new Tahoe cost around $18,000. However, the police equipment that had to be added to the vehicles, including emergency lights, sirens and in-car camera and computer systems, cost an additional $19,000 per vehicle, making the total cost of each vehicle $37,000.According to Whitehead, the choice of Chevrolet Tahoes was based partly on Michigan state’s police department, which annually conducts precision driving tests on police vehicles, including the Tahoe. When testing, they look at braking distance, fuel economy, ergonomics, dynamics and comfort level for the officer. “The Tahoe consistently rates well in the Michigan state police testing,” Whitehead said. “We checked with other police departments, and those that have the Tahoe are very pleased with it. [Also,] the cost is lower than a lot of other options out there.”Whitehead said RUPD has been happy with the new Tahoes and the replacement of some of their patrol fleet. The update of the patrol vehicles was a priority for the police department this year, according to Whitehead.“We [also] like the Tahoe because it’s high [off the ground] and we get a lot of flooding on campus, so we are able to continue to patrol and respond to emergencies at those times,” Whitehead said. “We are in pretty good shape. All of our patrol vehicles have been the priority. All of the patrol vehicles are now up to date.”
Rice University recently purchased the building that houses the Urban Outfitters clothing store in Rice Village for an undisclosed amount. The property of 2501 University Blvd. is a two-story, 15,273 square foot building. According to the Houston Business Journal, Rice purchased this property from a local partnership that owned the building for nearly 60 years.
The Class of 2015 had an opportunity to participate in their Senior Gift Campaign during the Senior Toast held at the Rice Gallery and Susan and Raymond Brochstein Courtyard. The Rice Annual Fund, which covers everything tuition and endowment cannot cover, including providing scholarship aid, hosted the event.Lovett College senior Sayra Alanis said she is a recipient of financial aid, and said she likes that she can now give back. “Somebody did it for us,” Alanis said. “We should do it for future students.” Students can choose to donate specifically to undergraduate scholarships, their respective college, athletic team, organization or simply to the area of greatest financial need. Hanszen College senior Hannelle Fares acknowledged that tuition is already steep , which brings to question whether students should have to feel compelled to give more money. “Helping out the student clubs that are important to me is worth the donation,” Fares said. Other seniors seem to also enjoy the ability to give back to the groups they were involved with during their four years at Rice. Baker College senior Rico Marquez recognized that college can be a formative time for all.“It’s nice to give back to organizations that helped make us who we are,” Marquez said.Jones College senior Vaughan Andrews also said he appreciated the option to donate to specific organizations. “My favorite experiences are because of the organizations I was involved with, so it’s nice to give back to those,” Andrews said. “This year’s Senior Gift goals are $12,000 and 70 percent participation amongst seniors,” Erika Moul, Rice Annual Fund Assistant Director, said.Moul said this goal exceeds the Class of 2014’s gift of $10,300 and participation rate of 63 percent. Duncan College Senior Gift Representative and Rice Annual Fund intern Anastasia Bolshakov believes the event went extremely well. “I had a ton of people come up to me at Senior Toast and tell me what a wonderful event it was. I’m glad that it went so well since many senior events were cut last year, it was a great way for us to celebrate our time at Rice,” Bolshakov said. The three residential colleges with the highest participation rates from seniors receive a monetary incentive. Last year, Jones College achieved 99 percent participation, making it the highest out of the residential colleges. The respective college this year will present the Senior Gift check during halftime at the Homecoming football game on Nov. 8.