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DesRoches delivers State of University address

Courtesy Jeff Fitlow

By Viola Hsia     1/9/24 10:58pm

President Reggie DesRoches gave his second State of the University address Nov. 29, 2023, outlining several highlights from his past year of presidency.

“We have been able to bring incredible administrators, faculty and staff to Rice over the past couple of years,” DesRoches wrote in an email to the Thresher. “We also attract more and more talented students from all over the world. Being able to strengthen Rice and increase our local, national and global impact by building the university’s community has been one of my proudest accomplishments as president thus far.”

DesRoches touched on multiple statistics, including the admission rates for the class of 2027 dropping to 8% and athletic achievements, like the move to the American Athletic Conference this fall. 

Assistant athletic director Chuck Pool wrote that he was appreciative of DesRoches’ support in the address. 

“[DesRoches] has consistently expressed similar sentiments about athletics at Rice, and they reflect the tremendous collaboration we have in place to enhance the Rice brand in intercollegiate athletics,” Pool wrote.

DesRoches also spoke about the university’s plans for two new residential colleges and a new student center. He further touched on expanded research opportunities following accomplishments such as students receiving the NASA Future Investigators Award.

“We are also revamping our general education curriculum, the first comprehensive revision in over 20 years, and we are enhancing and growing our research enterprise with new partnerships, investments, faculty and staff,” DesRoches wrote to the Thresher. “Finally, we are hiring more than 200 faculty, which will allow us to keep our small student-to-faculty ratio while we build strength across the breadth of the university.”

Provost Amy Dittmar wrote in an email to the Thresher that part of this research expansion lay in increasing the budget for faculty salaries and graduate research stipends. Dittmar also said she is currently leading a budget transformation initiative with the executive vice president for finance and administration, Kelly Fox.

“A budget provides incentives for research that spans multiple disciplines,” Dittmar wrote. “The world’s most pressing problems in sustainability, health care and more require that kind of multidisciplinary research. I’m looking forward to more closely aligning our budget with Rice’s values and priorities.”

According to Fox, a first run of the budget model is set to be implemented this coming July, with monthly meetings throughout the first year.

“What [the model’s] going to do is help enable schools to have more resources at their discretion, and make decisions that they have more control and authority over,” Fox explained. 

Vice president of research Ramamoorthy Ramesh said he hopes this new expansion into research will not only widen Rice’s reputation on the academic stage, but allow room for conversation and progress.

“Universities need to be a place where we can have a conversation,” Ramesh said. “There’s a lot of things that we will [explore] deeper, with the intention of using our strengths in engineering, sciences, policy, social sciences and humanities to solve the biggest problems of our lifetime.”

Dittmar wrote that she hopes students will take advantage of these new opportunities, and thinks Rice is well positioned for the future.

“Rice graduates are adaptable, resilient problem-solvers who have the skills to engage in civil conversations across differences, display cultural understanding and elevate the public conversation on key issues in society,” Dittmar wrote. “They lead with courage and compassion, as they’ve been taught to do through student experiences. The world needs more Rice graduates, and this puts the university in a strong position as an institution.”

[01/10/2024 3:57 p.m.] This article was updated to reflect this as DesRoches second State of the University address.

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