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Centennial celebrations time to mark commitment to service at Rice University

By Tafwik Jarjour and Taylor Hall     4/20/11 7:00pm


If you haven't already heard about the Centennial Celebrations set to take place in October 2012 to commemorate Rice's first century of success, you might be living under a rock. The complementary initiatives have been made pretty prominent, as well: Surely, we all know of the ambitious Centennial Campaign – the initiative to raise $1 billion by the end of the 2012-2013 academic year – and there's even a Centennial Historian who blogs about her adventures in uncovering Rice's history leading up to the 2012 celebrations. President Leebron's promise to host numerous opportunities to celebrate Rice's 100-year journey, culminating in "one of the most vibrant events ever held here" the week of Oct. 10-14, 2012, will be complete with an academic procession, statue dedication, lecture series, performances, exhibits, receptions and parties. It's enough to make us seriously consider extending our undergraduate career's an extra semester just so we can partake in all the festivities.

In Leebron's welcome address on the Rice Centennial website (, he talks a lot about Edgar Odell Lovett's vision, and Rice's transformation from a "bold little university on the edge of the prairie to an international success on the cutting edge of education and research." And certainly, Rice's education and research advancements are worthy of celebration. But what if we took this time of festivity and commemoration as an opportunity to celebrate the Rice community's enduring commitment to service over the past century as well, and in so doing, unite the larger Rice family in one common, benevolent aim and pave the way for a future century of service-minded Rice students? Surely, our great collective efforts in serving others are no less worthy of acknowledgement or recognition than our academic achievements and what better way to memorialize these historic and ongoing efforts than through the completion of a community-wide service initiative?

Former Rice Habitat for Humanity President and current Rice Habitat Centennial Project Chair and Undergraduate Representative to the University Council, Tawfik Jarjour, has been working diligently for almost a year now in the hopes of initiating such an endeavor. And now, with support from Rice Habitat for Humanity, the Student Association, undergraduate and graduate students from the GSA, Jones School of Business, Architecture School, Engineering Leadership, the Rice Service Council and the Community Involvement Center, and advice from the Office of the Dean, and the Office of the President, it appears that his – and our – dream of uniting and engaging the entire Rice community in participation in one comprehensive service project in conjunction with the 2012 Centennial Celebrations has caught fire.

Rice Habitat is proud to announce the Rice Centennial House Project, in which the Rice community will together fundraise the $65,000 needed to construct a Habitat for Humanity home for a local family here in Houston. Architecture and engineering students will apply in-class learning to the design and then work to build the home together over the months of March and April 2012. This follows a tradition that dates back to the early 1990s, when Rice's Habitat chapter, in cooperation with Houston Habitat and the greater Rice Community, fundraised, designed and built houses in 1997, 2000 and 2001. While all parties involved should benefit through active volunteerism, the ultimate beneficiaries of this project would be the family who will live in the house.

So if you've read this far, you're probably wondering, how do I get involved? There will be opportunities to volunteer throughout the year. We will need members of the Rice community to step up to assist in contacting former members of Rice Habitat (there are hundreds) and helping in the fundraising process. We will need students, faculty and staff who are interested in setting up an educational series where people could learn about the social issues behind poverty and why organizations, such as Habitat, are needed to help improve the situation. Finally, if you really are interested in helping to lead this project, we encourage you to apply to the Centennial House Committee at Applications are due by Friday May 13th at 11:59.

The upcoming Centennial Celebrations promise to be an exciting time of reflection on Rice's collective achievements over the past 100 years, and there can be no greater achievement than the sum of our combined efforts to better our community and our world. I invite you to join us in this exciting new initiative. If you have any questions as to how this process works, such as how the family is selected, where the money goes, the timeline for the project and any other details, please take a look at the official proposal and presentation to the SA, which can be found here: For any other questions, contact

Tawfik Jarjour is a Lovett College senior and Chair of the Rice Habitat Centennial House Project

Taylor Hall is a Hanszen College junior and Rice Habitat President.

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