Banners up for Centennial
In the spirit of the upcoming Centennial, the Rice Inner Loop now sports its own walking guide to the history of the university. A hundred Centennial-themed banners recently replaced the owl banners that hung on light posts. The banners display short historical events and can be read in sequential order by following them down the Inner Loop from Tudor Fieldhouse.
According to President David Leebron, the specific idea of using the banners as a way to commemorate particular events originated from several conversations involving a number of people interested in the Centennial Celebration. To determine which events would be featured on the banners, History Professor John Boles and Rice Centennial Historian Melissa Kean were consulted, as well as others involved in planning the Centennial. The Department of Public Affairs, under the guidance of Vice President for Public Affairs Linda Thrane, had overall responsibility of the project.
Senior Director of Creative Services Jeff Cox said the process of finding 100 highlights, major events and fun facts proved to be difficult. Not only did the descriptions for each banner have to be short, but appropriate photos also needed to be found. In particular, old photos had be cleaned, toned and enlarged. Cox said the Woodson Research Center was very helpful in finding information for the banners.
"It was definitely a labor of love to be able to design these posters, and it's amazing to see the positive reaction to them," Cox said.
Martel College junior Maggie Sulc said she approves of the new Centennial banners.
"I like that Rice keeps changing the banners," Sulc said. "It gives people new things to look at on campus, and I think it's nice that we're honoring the history of Rice."
According to Leebron, his personal favorite is the 1916 banner celebrating the launch of the Rice Thresher.
Leebron said that although 100 banners have already been installed, Rice will soon be accepting suggestions for 20 to 25 more banners.
According to Cox, there will likely be a contest for people to submit their ideas. Places considered for hanging the banners include the campus entrances, the academic quad and along the road by Wiess College.
Cox said banners were first used five or six years ago to add vibrancy to the campus, and since then, they have been popular among students and faculty.
"When we took down the ‘Welcome Owls' banners, we had about 50 in good shape," Cox said. "We advertised them for people to take, and they were all taken within two hours. Even some of the ones we'd thought were in pretty bad shape were wanted."
For quality purposes, Cox said, Rice had the banners made at Kronberg's Flags, where double-heavyweight vinyl is sewn together to create the final product. Kronberg's Flags also handled the installation of the banners.
According to Cox, the banners have been so well-received that local TV stations have been on campus to film them, and there have been incidents of drivers along the Inner Loop distracted by reading the timeline.
"People who have commented to me about the banners have been enthusiastic, and I hope people will find them fun and educational regarding the history of Rice," Leebron said.
Sid Richardson College sophomore Ami Dave said she appreciates the Centennial spirit of the banners even if they may be excessive.
"I think the banners are an interesting means of getting the student body into the centennial mindset," Dave said. "I don't know if they're really necessary, but they're a nice addition to the campus."
Will Rice College junior Ian Akash Morrison said he enjoys the message that the banners send as the Centennial draws closer.
"It's cool to see what happened in the 1930s or the 1970s," Morrison said. "It's neat to look back and see what we've accomplished in the last 100 years, and I look forward to see what we might accomplish in the future."
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