Click here for updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation at Rice
Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Saturday, September 26, 2020 — Houston, TX °

DesRoches’ appointment promising for the future

By Thresher Editorial Board     1/21/20 10:07pm

As undergraduates, we are far more likely to be familiar with the everyday work and initiatives that come from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates than those from the Offices of the Provost or even the President. Often, the Thresher’s coverage reflects this uneven familiarity. However, when Rice announced that current Dean of Engineering Reginald DesRoches was named the incoming provost, we were excited for the new era of university leadership to come. 

Although the work of the provost might find its way into the pages of the Thresher less often than that of the dean of undergraduates, former Provost Marie Lynn Miranda’s initiatives have not escaped our attention or admiration. In her time as provost, Miranda worked to promote diversity at Rice. This work included opening the Multicultural Center as well as introducing more diverse hiring and promotion practices for faculty. Additionally, Miranda worked to combat the gender wage gap between Rice faculty.

Moreover, during her tenure, Miranda faced the challenge of supporting the Rice community during and after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Miranda helped establish the Hurricane Harvey Registry, and also ensured that financial assistance was available to affected community members. In addition, she continually worked alongside the Rice Crisis Management Team and Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby to provide ongoing support. In four years, Miranda made tangible progress toward the future and demonstrated her personal investment in the university.

As DesRoches begins taking on responsibilities and sorting through the many needs of a university to target priorities, we urge him to remember Miranda’s work and the progress yet to be achieved. According to the Office of Institutional Research, Rice in 2012 had 83 percent White faculty and 2 percent Black faculty — in 2018, with 77 percent White faculty and 3 percent Black, we still have a long way to go before we have a faculty representative of our student body, much less of the American population as a whole. Additionally, projects like the construction of a true Multicultural Center must not languish in the Thresher archives. Instead, we urge DesRoches to build on this progress and continue the practice of “using diversity as an engine of excellence,” as President David Leebron said during the recent Martin Luther King Jr. vigil, when recruiting the new deans of architecture, engineering and social sciences in addition to deciding tenure for faculty. 

DesRoches has already made history as the first Black provost at Rice University — but history doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stop here. 

More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 9/23/20 12:07pm
Houston youth: Overcome barriers and take over the polls

Despite the structural barriers facing many young people and people of color, often in tandem, we are ready to show up to the polls and make an impact on our communities this November... If you are a young Houstonian, join the movement to change the narrative that we are civically apathetic: get informed, register to vote, go to the polls and volunteer with local nonprofits or campaigns. 

OPINION 9/22/20 9:56pm
Say something: Administration should respond to Willy’s statue sit-ins

Rice administration has yet to publicly respond to the demonstrations to remove Willy’s statue that began in the academic quad three weeks ago. Shifa Rahman, the first student to begin protesting regularly and primary organizer of the sit-ins, says administration has not reached out to address the situation in a private fashion either. As more students join the “Down with Willy” cause, pressure is mounting for the administration to respond. Why have they stayed silent for so long?  

OPINION 9/22/20 9:19pm
Hands off Belarus: What can we do across the ocean

September 11, 2020. We are standing on a sidewalk by a skyscraper near West Loop 610. Around 40 people came to this protest, all dressed in red and white colors. We are waving red and white flags. Songs in Belarusian, Russian and English are playing from the speakers. Many cars passing by are honking and their drivers are waving to us. Along the freeway, there are boards and placards with signs: “Putin Keep Out of Belarus,” “Stop Violence In Belarus” and “Long Live Belarus.”


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.