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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 — Houston, TX


NEWS 9/1/15 2:26pm

Students found pro-choice group

Pro-Choice Rice, a new advocacy group and the first college chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, aims to bring awareness of women’s reproductive rights to the Rice University campus and the surrounding community.

NEWS 9/1/15 2:25pm

RUPD implements body cameras

All Rice University Police Department officers must carry body-worn cameras as of April 2015, according to Chief of Police Johnny Whitehead, to align with the best practices of the U.S. Department of Justice. The use of these cameras was first piloted in summer 2014 and spring 2015, after which officers were trained for their usage.Whitehead said RUPD has used dashboard cameras and audio/video equipment in patrol cars since 2009, to aid evidence collection for crimes such as driving while intoxicated.“It has provided information to improve evaluation and training of officers and has helped resolve disputes between officers and citizens,” Whitehead said. “We believe body-worn cameras can serve the same purposes.”Officers must activate the camera in cases of public contact, during car stops, arrest situations and encounters with people on the street. Police officers may choose whether or not to honor individual requests to not be recorded. Routine service calls such as key services and security escorts do not mandate recording.In recent years, highly-publicized cases of police brutality have led to a national debate on police-citizen relations and police oversight. Body cameras have often been suggested as a method of monitoring police actions to limit misconduct and even exonerate innocent officers. According to Whitehead, there was no particular incident that caused RUPD to deploy body cameras, but this national conversation led them to research and pilot the cameras. Whitehead said RUPD has received positive feedback from several organizations, including the college masters and presidents, the Graduate Student Association, the Black Student Association, the Faculty Senate, General Counsel and Public Affairs.“We have spoken with members of the Rice community and found strong support for the deployment of body cameras for our officers,” Whitehead said. “RUPD officers support the initiative.”Whitehead said only RUPD has access to the videos but they may release a video to the District Attorney’s Office or under the Open Records Act, which gives the public access to government records. However, student-related requests may depend on the situation.“We do not plan to routinely provide body camera video to [Student Judicial Programs] or [University Court],” Whitehead said. “Most of the cases we refer to SJP are for minor infractions and most students take responsibility for their actions. Any request from SJP or UCourt will be considered on a case-by-case basis.”Will Rice College sophomore Josiah Yarbrough said he thinks the body camera may increase trust in RUPD.“I think it’s an appropriate measure,” Yarbrough said. “I’m from St. Louis and I’ve grown up around police brutality and offenses committed by police officers and even on Rice’s campus, it may bring a lot of people assurance to see that police officers are being watched and being held accountable. I know the chief pretty well and I know he’s a good guy. I think RUPD is doing a fantastic job, but even so, body cameras can do no harm.” 

NEWS 9/1/15 2:20pm

The Hoot opens in the RMC

The opening night of the Hoot at the Rice Memorial Center was full of surprises for both the business and its customers. According to General Manager Joanna Weedlun, an unexpected fire alarm did not dampen operations and she is happy with the Hoot’s first appearance in the new location.“Definitely tonight we were surprised by the fire alarm,” Weedlun, a Hanszen College senior, said. “It turns out one of our warmers was malfunctioning and read that it was only at 190 degrees when it was actually heating up past 300 degrees. So we opened it up and the fire alarm went off. But everything got back on track pretty quickly and no food was damaged, thankfully.”Weedlun said a wide range of customers has noticed the Hoot in the RMC.“We've gotten a lot of attention from [graduate] students today, which is what we wanted,” Weedlun said.New hot food items on the menu include vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and Whataburger’s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits, according to Weedlun.“We have banh mi from Les Givral’s, so tonight we have tofu, pork, chicken, beef and meatball banh mi,” Weedlun said. “Also, past 11:30 p.m. we will be getting in Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits from Whataburger. We are on a trial period with that, but we are hoping that it will continue to be an every night thing throughout this semester.”Weedlun said she was pleased that the Hoot was drawing students from around campus to the student center.“We really want the student center to become more of a social hub at night,” Weedlun said. “What we've noticed is that a lot of people are buying food and hanging out. … I'm really excited for how things are turning out and I think they will only get better.”Yoseph Maguire, a Wiess College sophomore, said the proximity between Coffeehouse and the Hoot prompted his visit.“I was studying at Coffeehouse, and I decided I want banh mi,” Maguire said. “So I came to the Hoot to get banh mi.”Will Rice College sophomore Jason Sanchez said the new food options make the longer trip worth it.“I was apprehensive that the Hoot now has only one location at the RMC, but the one central Hoot outdid itself with the selection they now have — I love banh mi,” Sanchez said, as he enjoyed a Chick-fil-A sandwich.

NEWS 8/27/15 11:47am

University of Houston selling old KTRU frequency

Houston Public Media, a broadcasting service of the University of Houston, has made a decision to sell radio station Classical 91.7 KUHA Houston, according to Radio INSIGHT. The station belonged to KTRU Rice Radio prior to 2010.KUHA station general manager Lisa Shumate, as quoted by KUHF, said the decision was based on the recognition that the popularity, broadcast quality and efficiency of digital broadcasting has enhanced significantly.“Placing our focus on high-definition radio and digital streaming for our classical music programming enables us to make the best use of technology and resources to continue providing the music and arts and culture content that our listeners enjoy,” Shumate said.According to the Radio INSIGHT report, finance may have played a part in the resale as well.The report reads: “After a poor fundraising campaign in 2013 the station eliminated four on-air positions and replaced the local programming with American Public Media’s ‘Classical 24’ network.”Three-year KTRU disc jockey Carrie Li said she sees 91.7’s resale as ironic, given the fact that KTRU’s old frequency is being resold while KTRU itself is going back onto FM. “I feel amused, but also a little bitter on behalf of the past DJs who mounted such a tireless campaign to keep KTRU on 91.7,” Li, a Martel College senior, said. “A lot of KTRUvians wanted to see classical 91.7 fail and openly celebrated whenever they encountered technical difficulties or something, but I’m not gloating. It just seems like a massive waste.”Commenting on KTRU’s sale five years ago, Li said its impact on morale is still visible on campus.“I joined KTRU my first semester freshman year and by then KTRU had been broadcasting exclusively online for, I believe, at least two years,” Li said. “KTRU was, and to a certain extent still is, I think, suffering from low morale as a result of the sale.”While the move to online broadcasting is understandable considering people’s preference for streaming, it limits the station’s ability to catch new listeners by surprise, according to Li.“The caveat to streaming online [is] that listeners usually have to know that the stream exists and how to get there,” Li said. “There isn’t that element of discovery when you find a cool new station with your car radio.”KTRU station manager Emily Meigs said traditional analog broadcasting is still the predominant medium for radio stations.“Although digital broadcasting is growing, it is not at a pace that it will overtake traditional analog broadcasting,” Meigs, a Martel College senior, said. “Plus, digital radios can receive analog signals.”Meigs also said because of the unique advantage of broadcasting, KTRU is happy to be on FM again. “KTRU has been broadcasting on HD2 for the past four years, but is excited to make the switch back to the FM and think that it will provide our listeners with an easier way to tune in,” Meigs said.Starting Oct. 2, KTRU Rice Radio will be broadcasting on a new frequency of 96.1, in addition to its online station (ktru.org).

NEWS 8/27/15 11:46am

Rice, UT launch Public Health Scholars program

Rice University and the University of Texas School of Public Health have partnered to offer Rice students the opportunity to start a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science with a Master of Public Health their senior year at Rice. The program, which begins this fall, allows students to finish the MPH in the year following graduation.The program is co-directed by Dr. Kristen Ostherr, a recent Master of Public Health graduate, and Dr. Nicholas Iammarino, a Rice faculty member. According to Ostherr, the program stems from a growing need for public health awareness. “The idea came from a recognition of the growing importance of public health to our daily lives, to the nation’s future and to the careers of future physicians,” Ostherr said. “Because Rice has so many [pre-medical students] who are interested in issues related to health disparities, global health and the environment, a joint program in public health made perfect sense.”Vice Provost for Strategic Partnerships Dr. Daniel Carson said the connection across institutions is what makes the program distinct.“The UTSPH already had similar programs with other UT campuses,” Carson said. “This told us setting this up was possible, but didn’t provide a clear guideline for how to do this between institutions.”Administrative details proved most challenging at its start, according to Iammarino.“Questions like transferring course credit, the financial implications and coordinating our academic years and scheduling all needed to be sorted through,” Iammarino said.The proper handling of these issues was imperative, according to Ostherr.“It’s critical to do it right to help ensure the program’s longevity,” Ostherr said.Besides Iammarino and Ostherr, Carson and Rice Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson were instrumental in the program’s creation.“Dean Hutchinson played a key role along with Vice Provost Daniel Carson in working with [Rice’s and UTSPH’s] administrations to solve these issues while also anticipating many unique questions we knew would arise from our students, creat[ing] a special FAQ sheet to begin addressing the questions,” Iammarino said.The 2015-16 cohort is five Rice seniors selected from 20-30 applicants.“This being our first year, we had to hustle to get the word out quickly to obtain applicants at the end of the [2014-15] year but were very pleased at our response and applicants,” Iammarino said. “However, we expect the numbers to grow as students learn about this option and can actually plan for it earlier in their undergraduate careers.”The program will expedite the path to a MPH, according to Iammarino.“The most exciting part of this new program is the opportunity to enroll concurrently in the UTSPH and take up to five courses during their senior year,” Iammarino said. “In essence, they will be able to potentially complete their MPH degree in one year rather than the typical two years.”The program also encourages public health studies across majors and has plans for growth.“We want more cross-fertilization between all of the different divisions on campus,” Dr. Ostherr said. “We deliberately do not limit participation to students from any one major … and will be issuing another call for applicants this fall.”Wiess College senior Brooke Evans is a member of the 2015-16 cohort. Having pursued the Global Health Technologies minor since freshman year, Evans said the program aligned well with her interests and previous experience.“I learned about this program in one of [the Global Health Technologies] classes and was so excited about the opportunity to learn about public health on a graduate school level,” Evans said. “I hope my education in public health will help me understand medicine on a larger scale and critically analyze and work toward improving the health of the greater public.”

NEWS 8/27/15 11:44am

Taiwan flag removed for Chinese leadership visit

Rice recently removed the Taiwan banner from its campus when hosting a visit from Chinese officials, according to Senior Director of News & Media Relations BJ Almond. The visit included university presidents and chancellors from China and the United States, as well as China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong, Minister of Education Yuan Guiren and Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping. “Rice’s two Taiwan light pole banners are not flags, but they include an image of the Taiwanese flag,” Almond said. “Our banners could have been viewed as an affront by Vice Premier Liu, the third-ranking official in the Chinese government. The university’s decision to temporarily remove the ... banners was consistent with U.S. policy, and it was also a matter of diplomatic protocol for a visit by the highest-ranking government official from China to come to Rice.”Rice’s light poles are often adorned with themed banners that are rearranged, replaced and removed for a variety of reasons. The current banners feature the flags of countries represented by Rice students and faculty, including Taiwan.“The banners were replaced right after the visit,” Almond said. “Rice welcomes and values our students and faculty members from Taiwan. That is why we included the Taiwan banners as part of the international display in the first place.”Tim Chang (McMurtry ’15), the former president of the Rice Taiwanese Association, said he believes Rice should state its reasons for the removal and be prepared to respond to questions.“I cannot say whether  the Rice University officials were proper in the removal of the ROC flag,” Chang said. “From a stance to improve tolerance and a chance to possibly establish meaningful conversations, I think the Rice University officials should not have removed the flag.”This article was originally published July 14, 2015 and has since received new quotes.

NEWS 8/27/15 11:33am

Hoot, Whoo Deli, Droubi’s shift locations

Hungry Owls returning in the fall may be in for a surprise. The Rice Memorial Center is undergoing renovations to accommodate significant changes in the campus food scene. 4.TacO and The Hoot will be located in what was formerly the window of Droubi’s Mediterranean Grill in the RMC, Droubi’s will move into South Servery and Whoo Deli will move into Sammy’s. According to Susann Glenn, manager of communications for Facilities, Engineering and Planning, the changes are in response to a survey.“We sent out a retail dining survey [to] check in with faculty, staff, graduate students — the people who would most frequent our retail operations,” Glenn said.Glenn said Whoo Deli, a brand owned by Rice and the campus’ top food seller, is moving from its current location at South Servery into Sammy’s lounge in the RMC to increase its visibility and accessibility.“The deli has a loyal following, and moving it to this location centralizes it [in] the campus,” Glenn said. “It also exposes it to some people who may not have ventured down to the south part of campus to eat. With the number of visitors that travels through the student center, it’s just an excellent option.”Chef and Dining Director Johnny Curet said he expects Droubi’s move to the South Servery where the Whoo Deli was located will benefit the restaurant’s operation.“We wanted to give Droubi’s a solid location for some dining,” Curet said. “Some of the things that you as an operator have to deal with is sometimes we [have] to close this area down based on the RMC schedule for events. … [In the future they can] operate more successfully, more consistently.”A.J. Droubi, owner of Droubi’s, said while the interior design has improved, customers are still getting used to its new location.“It is much prettier but too quiet,” Droubi said. “I hope we will be able to have some of our customers back and generate some sales.”However, Droubi said the new location adds exercise to the Droubi’s experience.“My motto now is that the Mediterranean diet has gotten healthier: A few minutes of walking to our new location can keep you in better shape!” Droubi said.According to Brad Thacker, senior operations manager of food services, 4.TacO will move into the serving window that is being emptied as Droubi’s leaves, possibly introducing breakfast options in the RMC.Additionally, The Hoot will combine its South and North operations to one central location in the RMC, the serving window, according to Curet. The Hoot and 4.TacO will use the window at different times.  Joanna Weedlun, general manager of The Hoot, said The Hoot management team is thrilled to announce its relocation. According to Weedlun, operating in one location instead of two will allow the late night food provider to focus more on serving customers.“Reselling hot food is a very tricky business model, and is made even more difficult by having two locations,” Weedlun, a Hanszen College senior, said. “By consolidating The Hoot into one central location, we can strengthen our business model and increase innovation for our customer base.”Weedlun also said centralizing is not a recent idea; previous Hoot management teams have thought about it, and the current team has worked on it for a while.“The process of this move actually began years ago and has been a goal for many Hoot management teams,” Weedlun said. “The Hoot has planned ahead and budgeted for this move.”Rice Coffeehouse general manager Mason Daumas said being under the same roof as The Hoot will likely benefit the operation by increasing traffic.“We expect the Hoot’s new location to increase business at Coffeehouse,” Daumas, a Wiess College senior, said. “When people go to the Hoot to get food, they’ll also have the option to stop at Coffeehouse and caffeinate themselves. That wasn’t true when the Hoot was working out of two locations.”In addition to infrastructure changes, Curet said there will also be new food options.“One of the things that we started with with 4.TacO recently was the Korean taco and, believe it or not, it’s our number one taco now,” Curet said. “[The demand] is more Asian food, more grab-and-go, and more Indian food ... We’re still testing an Indian taco.”According to Glenn, the relocation and expansion of the menu are meant to reflect consumption demands and patterns.“This is all done with a lot of thought and really looking at what trends we’re seeing,” Glenn said. “It’s not just a knee-jerk reaction.”Anastasia Bolshakov, (Duncan ’15) who worked with H&D and was involved in reviewing the survey results, said the feedback helped H&D understand community needs.“I think that a lot of the feedback was really eye-opening, and some of it was contradictory,” Bolshakov said. “It’s important to remember that you are not going to please everyone.”Bolshakov said moving Droubi’s and Whoo Deli will benefit each of them.“Now [Droubi’s will] have their own dining room, a bigger space and a kitchen they won’t have to share,” Bolshakov said. “It is nice that the Whoo Deli is in a more central location now too. People were often complaining that the Hanszen Annex was too far of a walk, and you can’t really get any more central than the RMC.” 

NEWS 8/27/15 11:21am

Welcome to Rice, Class of 2019

Just under 34 percent of the 2,865 students admitted to Rice University in 2015 have enrolled in the class of 2019, according to Vice President for Enrollment Chris Munoz. “We’re really selecting on a national level, the best from the best,” Munoz said. “So you can’t even imagine what that must be like for Harvard or Stanford. We’re in that world of the students who apply to Rice.” Munoz said the wide range of nationalities, races, languages and extracurricular interests among the matriculating class shows that Rice students do not fit a specific stereotype. As an example, he pointed to the fact that 44 percent of the matriculating class were involved with varsity athletics in high school.“When you think of Rice in terms of image, they always think our students are a bunch of geeks,” Munoz said. “And they may be, but that doesn’t mean they can’t throw a football. … Our geeks are diverse, they have other things they bring to the table.”According to Munoz, an important characteristic of Rice students is their flexibility.“Our students often are agile,” Munoz said. “We’re not [the California Institute of Technology], this is not Caltech. Our students often may be outstanding in terms of their quantitative skills, but they can maybe write a novel.”Munoz said all segments of Rice’s student population are academically accomplished, comparing science and engineering students to those in other academic schools.“There is no place, in my opinion, at Rice that you could hide anyone,” Munoz said. “The nature of our curriculum, the quality of the students who enroll at Rice, even our humanities and social science students often have academic qualifications that are commensurate with our science and engineering people. As a general rule, their test scores may be a tad lower, but not much, and I think that goes along with the kind of curriculum we offer.”According to Munoz, negative perceptions of Houston and Texas in other parts of the United States pose a challenge to Rice by reducing the number of students who apply and enroll.“[National perceptions of Houston and Texas are] still a stereotype issue we deal with,” Munoz said. “And sometimes when our representatives say provocative things that don’t make any sense it doesn’t help us. When our governor said we were going to secede from the United States, we’re going, oh please, don’t do that. Don’t say that, it’s so stupid.”Stanford University and the University of Texas, Austin have been Rice’s most significant competitors for prospective students, according to Munoz.However, Munoz said that admission trends are positive for Rice, with test scores, admission rate and other measures of the caliber of new students becoming increasingly selective in recent years.“If I were a Rice student, I’d be happy,” Munoz said. “Remember that every class we bring in that’s better than your class, on paper, only increases the value of your degree. It’s like Stanford. There are people who got degrees from Stanford, X years ago, and they have benefitted from its current position. It’s like, ‘Every Stanford graduate is starting a company in Silicon Valley. I read that.’ That’s the buzz, the marketing buzz.”

NEWS 8/27/15 11:18am

New students reassigned colleges

Several new students faced last-minute changes to their living situations due to a higher than expected number of students committing to Rice University this fall. According to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, as of the beginning of August, 11 new students were initially scheduled to share rooms with upperclassmen in order to secure a spot on campus.“We are seeking to provide incentives to upperclassmen to overcrowd their rooms, some financial incentives for them to do that to make spaces for new students,” Hutchinson said. “I would prefer not to overcrowd the rooms of new students since they don’t have a context for knowing what they’re volunteering for if they do that.”Mark Ditman, associate vice president of Housing and Dining, said the incentives work in such a way to prevent students from taking advantage and overcrowding just to save on room and board.“What we don’t want to do is incentivize people to overcrowd a room to save money,” Ditman said. “We think that can have some bad consequences over time. ... Once a bed became available in the college, you had to unwind the overcrowd, and that person would go in the open bed. If they wanted to overcrowd instead of the open bed they could, but the financial incentive would terminate once a bed became open.”However, according to Hutchinson, in cases where colleges could not accommodate any more students, new students were transferred from their original assigned colleges to other colleges where extra beds opened up over the summer. “Four new students chose to live in a different college because we could house them there, and then chose to become members of that college rather than remain members of the college they were originally assigned to,” Hutchinson said. “Two other students very much wanted to remain assigned to the college they were originally assigned to, and in the end, they were actually able to get beds where they were originally assigned.” According to Baker Orientation Week coordinator Sylvia Omozee, two international students originally assigned to Will Rice College were switched to Baker College the day before O-Week started. “They were basically putting new students wherever there were rooms around campus,” Omozee, a Baker College senior, said. “It just so happened that there were things with upperclassmen at Baker who went off campus and there was a double that opened in Baker ‘New New.’”According to Omozee, while the advisors adapted quickly and the new students have adjusted well, the situation was precarious, especially from the new students’ perspective. “I think it’s unfair to promise new students housing in their specific college without intentions of keeping that promise,” Omozee said. “As a new student, I would’ve been wondering, ‘Why me? Why not another student? Was there something about my roommate form that made them think they didn’t want me in their college?’” Hutchinson said that while administration did in fact receive complaints from several of the new students’ parents, his office addressed them accordingly.“We received a small number of concerns from parents, but not very many,” Hutchinson said. “We certainly made sure that we let parents know that we were attentive to the situation, that we were not worried about whether people were going to be able to get beds or not, but that there were some uncontrolled factors that had to play out before we would know for certain where everybody was going to be housed. And parents seemed to understand that pretty well.”According to Omozee, the situation also put a strain on the coordinators, who worked all summer to match roommates and assign rooms, only to find that the expected number of students was higher. Omozee said that while the coordinators were not specifically at fault, certain colleges received complaints from students and parents.   “One particular college kept getting angry emails from at first a new student, then the student’s parents asking why they didn’t have a room,” Omozee said. “Which is completely understandable to be upset about. So we definitely got some heat from that, not specifically Baker, but we have received a lot of heat that is not necessarily our fault, and there was nothing we could do about it. One thing I’m really proud about was that the other 31 coordinators and was that we handled it in a way that despite the things that happened we could still figure it out and put on O-Week.”Omozee said she thinks overcrowding would have been more successful had the financial incentives proposed to upperclassmen been greater.  “I think [administration] just needs better policies if something like this were to happen again,” Omozee said. “The discount given is not enough. So maybe if a higher discount was given, then maybe a better discount would be a solution to that issue. It was more like, this is what you get coordinators, just deal with it.”According to Hutchinson, only two students accepted incentives to move off campus and create space for incoming students.“We did in fact put incentives out there, and students did not find those incentives enticing enough to want to make a move,” Hutchinson said. “We examined different ways to encourage different students to move, and in the end, it was a relatively small number who moved to make room for some of the entering freshmen. It turned out it was only two students who did that. But it turned out that that was what we needed.”According to Hutchinson, the administration will take steps to reduce last-minute transfers in the future while housing many students on campus as possible. However, uncertainties persist that make this a difficult process. “We will make adjustments next year to try to minimize anxiety, but in the end we knew we were going to be able to house people,” Hutchinson said. “We try to balance two conflicting demands. One is we’d like to have as much flexibility as possible and try to house everybody in a situation that is optimal for them. And we’d also like to have as many people live on campus because people want to live on campus. We don’t want to have a bunch of people living off campus while we have a bunch of vacancies.”According to Omozee, however, as O-Week got nearer, there was not much more that could have been done to account for a higher yield. “I think because the issue of overcrowding wasn’t realized until later in the game, there was no way really to move the date of college assignments without students wondering, ‘Where is my college assignment?’” Omozee said. “It would have been better than people coming to O-week and they don’t know what college they’re going to. In all honesty, I think this was the best case scenario for the situation we were given. I’m not happy with the situation. But at this point it’s done. The new students love Baker, so it’s fine.”According to Susann Glenn, communications manager for H&D, the overcrowding system has existed since before 2000 and has been well received by students.“We haven’t heard any pushback because we incentivize certain things for those who participated in that,” Glenn said. “So if anything, we received eagerness from those who have agreed to help us out. … This isn’t a decision that we make on our own as an administration. We need students, to make sure we’re serving [their] needs.”

NEWS 8/21/15 8:51am

Outreach day to focus on food insecurity

The Center for Civic Leadership is presenting a new model for Outreach Day 2015, which will take place on the Saturday after Orientation Week, according to CCL Executive Director Caroline Quenemoen. With the focus on a single topic and a keynote address before volunteering activities, the event may look quite different from previous Outreach Days.

NEWS 8/15/15 5:21am

Room overcrowding lessens as O-week arrives

A few returning students will have an extra roommate as a higher than expected number of students committed to Rice this fall. According to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, as of the beginning of August, 11 new students were scheduled to share rooms with upperclassmen in order to secure a spot on campus.

NEWS 8/10/15 11:14am

Hoot and Whoo Deli move to RMC, Droubi's to South Servery in campus food reshuffle

Hungry owls returning in the fall may be in for a surprise. The Rice Memorial Center is undergoing renovations to accommodate significant changes in the campus food scene, which include the relocation of Whoo Deli, Droubi’s Mediterranean Grill and 4.TacO as well as the centralization of The Hoot in the RMC. 4.TacO and The Hoot will share Droubi’s window in the RMC, Droubi’s will move into South Servery and Whoo Deli will move into Sammy’s.

NEWS 8/7/15 10:37am

Princeton Review names Rice top school for race/class interaction, quality of life

Rice University students continue to rate highly in quality of life compared to universities across America, ranking No. 1 for both race/class interaction and quality of life in Princeton Review’s “The Best 380 Colleges” 2016 edition.Rice also ranked within the top 20 across four other categories: happiest students, best health services, great financial aid and best-run colleges.The rankings are a result of 136,000 surveys conducted across 380 of the top colleges in the nation. The Princeton Review evaluated race/class interaction based on surveyed students’ responses when asked whether people from different racial and economic backgrounds interacted often at their college. Several different questions contributed to the quality of life ranking, according to the Princeton Review site.“[Quality of life questions assess] the beauty, safety and location of their campus, their campus dorms and food, their ease in getting around the campus and in dealing with the administration, the friendliness of fellow students and interactions among different student types on campus and their overall happiness,” the site said.Rice’s profile on the Princeton Review site compiles quotes collected from students who participated in the questionnaire discussing academics, administration and the student body.“Students at Rice are generous with their praise for professors, who ‘are very accessible and happy to talk about the material and give help outside of class,’ and make ‘their course material relevant, being sure to include modern-day and industry applications,’” the site said.President David Leebron said he was pleased that Rice was recognized for its strong quality of life and said the ranking supports students’ experience and achievement.“But we are even more gratified with our No. 1 ranking for interaction among students of different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds,” Leebron said. “Diversity at Rice isn’t just a matter of statistics, but how our students actually experience their education.”Since 2007, Rice has previously been in the top 10 rankings for race/class interaction seven times, the top ten rankings for happiest students six times and within the top five for best of life eight times.

NEWS 7/23/15 7:42am

Beer Bike 2016 date moved due to Easter conflict

Due to conflict with Easter, next year’s Beer Bike will take place during the third, rather than the last, weekend of March, according to Dixita Viswanath, president of the Rice Program Council, which organizes the event.“This year Easter falls on March 27, 2016,” Viswanath, a Will Rice College senior, said. “Since Beer Bike was originally scheduled for March 26, we did not want Beer Bike to conflict with Easter to allow the maximum number of students to attend. As a result, we moved Beer Bike to March 19, 2016.”The date change will encourage participation and accommodate visiting alumni, according to Viswanath.“We know many alumni return to campus for Beer Bike,” Viswanath said. “We did not want to deter or prevent attendance at the event since we know many people tend to have plans for Easter weekend.”According to Viswanath, RPC Executive Board discussed the decision with Student Activities. She said RPC has always strived to be inclusionary in its event planning.“RPC does its best to schedule events keeping major religious holidays in mind to give the entire undergraduate student body equal opportunity to attend our events,” Viswanath said. “For example, [two] years ago Screw–Yer–Roommate was moved in order to accommodate Yom Kippur.”

NEWS 7/14/15 7:57am

Rice removes Taiwan flag when hosting Chinese officials

Rice recently removed the Taiwan banner from its campus when hosting a visit from Chinese officials, according to Senior Director of News & Media Relations BJ Almond. The visit from June 21-22 included university presidents and chancellors from China and the United States, as well as China’s Vice Premier Liu, Minister of Education Yuan Guiren, and Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping."Rice was honored to host a visit from a very high-ranking Chinese official and removed two Taiwan banners for a short time for protocol purposes," Senior Director of News & Media Relations BJ Almond said. "The banners were restored the day after the visit, as originally planned."According to Almond, Rice's light poles are often adorned with themed banners that are rearranged, replaced and removed for a variety of reasons. The current banners feature the flags of countries represented by Rice students and faculty, including Taiwan."We are proud of our students from Taiwan, proud of our relationships with universities and other institutions there, and we have welcomed many people from Taiwan to our campus," Almond said.Rice alumnus Tim Chang (McMurtry ‘15) is the former president of the Rice Taiwanese Association and said he believes Rice officials should state their reasons for the removal and be prepared to respond to questions."I really have little idea on how conservative or how easily angered Chinese officials would be by the Taiwanese flag, and I did not know what Rice University was trying to achieve from the round-table event, so from a diplomatic and political stance, I cannot say whether or not the Rice University officials were proper in the removal of the ROC flag,” Chang said. “However, from a stance to improve tolerance and a chance to possibly establish meaningful conversations, among students if not among government and university officials, I think the Rice University officials should not have removed the flag."“International protocol decisions are made on a case-by-case basis,” Almond said. Vietnamese Student Association President Thu Nguyen said there had been a previous case in which a banner featuring Vietnam was taken down and replaced with another country's due to students’ requests.“Two individuals, who happen to be a part of [VSA], had requested the removal of the red flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” Nguyen, a Wiess College junior, said. “The reason behind the request is that the Vietnamese community in Houston and the U.S. is officially represented by the yellow flag of the former Republic of South Vietnam. There are documents from the City of Houston, Texas and other states which declare this while asking all institutions here to respectfully remove the current red flag. Therefore, Rice simply honored a legal mandate, and responded to the request within one day.”Errata: It was previously stated the Vietnamese banner was exchanged for a banner featuring the former flag of the Republic of South Vietnam. This is incorrect. It was replaced by a banner featuring Nicaragua.

NEWS 6/25/15 7:58pm

Cortez wins Powell award

When Daniel Cortez (Jones ‘15) got several text messages from close friends one morning in April, a few weeks before graduation, he had “no idea” what they were congratulating him for. After one friend forwarded him an email from the Rice University Awards list, he found out that he was going to receive the 2015 Gen. Colin Powell Commencement Award for Leadership.“I was both very excited and confused at the same time,” Cortez said.At Rice, some of Cortez’s extracurriculars included interning in Texas Senator John Cornyn’s office through the Leadership Rice Mentorship Experience, volunteering with Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees and doing research at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and the Religion and Public Life Program.“My time at Rice really was such a wonderful experience,” Cortez said. “In some ways the culture of excellence was a challenge. In high school I never really considered myself as being capable of too much. I always was naturally curious and like being involved in activities but I never saw myself as a ‘leader’ per se. Even now I don't think of myself as a leader, or even capable of affecting change.”When he won the award, Cortez said, he had many moments of self doubt.“I kept wondering what it said about me and if I really deserved it,” Cortez said. “Part of the reason for this feeling is that, at Rice, I feel like I am surrounded by so many incredible people. It's hard to think that I stand out among them.”Cortez did not receive the award on stage, instead meeting Gen. Powell at University President David Leebron’s house before the Saturday graduation ceremony.“It was amazing meeting someone who has had such a profound impact on the world we live in,” Cortez said.Komal Bansal, who Cortez described as a close friend, said she was not surprised when she found out Cortez was getting the award."He has always been committed to the cause of providing educational and leadership opportunities to Latino youth," Bansal (Jones ‘15) said. "His dedication to public service is admirable and inspiring."Cortez’s friend Mitchell Massey, who was also his roommate for two years, said Cortez’s integrity, passion, optimism and determination are evident to all who know him.“He is constantly thinking about what he can do to help others and to improve himself,” Massey (Jones ‘15) said. “As a friend, he is a great listener and will always give you honest advice. I am very proud of Daniel, and I am proud to be his friend. He is a tremendous guy with great values."Cortez will be working as a consultant in Houston at Deloitte for a few years before pursuing a master’s degree. He said in Washington, D.C. he learned that the intersection of government and business is pivotal.“In the long run, I think I’d like to work in government at the local level,” Cortez said. “But I’m keeping things pretty open. I want to use Deloitte as an opportunity to explore new industries.”Being a public servant, Cortez said, requires really understanding the people and communities you are serving.“And while I don't think I have that yet — and perhaps never will — I hope that I can immerse myself at the local level,” Cortez said. Read more about Cortez and the Powell Award at http://news.rice.edu/2015/05/16/daniel-cortez-honored-with-2015-gen-colin-powell-commencement-award-for-leadership.

NEWS 6/25/15 7:57pm

Houston mayor honors Ping with "Y. Ping Sun Day"

Houston Mayor Annise Parker officially designated April 23, 2015 as Y. Ping Sun Day in honor of the Rice University representative and Houston community leader. City councilwoman Ellen Cohen presented Sun with the proclamation at the fifth annual Girl Scouts’ Success to Significance luncheon this April on behalf of Parker, who was out of the country.

NEWS 6/20/15 1:03pm

Rice and BCM form partnership on research and teaching

Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine further cemented their relationship in an agreement to partner on research and teaching, 50 years after the institutions partnered in creating the first artificial heart. The agreement, signed by Rice President David Leebron and BCM President and CEO Paul Klotman in May, aligned with the Texas Medical Center outreach goals of Leebron’s Vision for the Second Century.The new agreement seeks to minimize the red tape and paperwork surrounding interinstitutional cooperation for both students and faculty, according to Rice Vice Provost for Strategic Partnerships Dan Carson. The partnership allows students at either institution to enroll in graduate courses at the other for credit, encourages researchers to share certain laboratory facilities and pushes faculty to jointly develop education and research programs.“Beyond lab experiences, Rice undergraduate students have been able to work with BCM faculty on projects through the Health, Humanism and Society Scholars program,” Carson said. “We expect all of these opportunities to expand as a result of the agreement.”Rice and BCM previously attempted a merger in late 2009. According to Caron, the institutions analyzed the challenges and opportunities of a merger and mutually decided not to pursue the endeavor..“I’m not sure I would refer to this effort as ‘failed’,” Carson said. “Nonetheless, it became clear through these discussions that we both saw many areas of collaboration that could be developed or expanded.  The agreement provides for the establishment of a joint Implementation Office to develop these areas.”Carson said he is unaware of any further discussion on a merger, but he said Rice is also expanding interactions with UTHealth in developing the Rice Neuroscience Program for undergraduates.More than 40 researchers already partner in adjunct programs and research between the two institutions, and Baylor previously helped create Rice’s neuroscience program. Additionally, Rice shares in Baylor’s M.D./Ph.D. program with the opportunity for a doctoral degree in bioengineering.An oversight council with members appointed by both Leebron and Klotman will ensure that the agreement is implemented over the next year.

NEWS 6/20/15 1:01pm

$50 Million Donation to Establish Leadership Institution at Rice

Rice University alumni Ann (Jones ‘75) and John (Lovett ‘73) Doerr donated the largest donation Rice has ever received to establish the Doerr Institute for New Leaders. The $50 million donation will help develop both graduate and undergraduate Rice students into leaders through innovative practices and hands-on, personalized coaching. Retired Brigadier General Tom Kolditz has been appointed to direct the institute after a yearlong international search.John Doerr, a venture capitalist who previously helped foster success in Silicon Valley companies, said the institute will focus on cultural and global inclusion and directly address issues that concern millennials.“Millennials want to see the big picture and their role in it, get frequent feedback and be empowered — not micromanaged,” John Doerr said. “Ideas are easy; executing those ideas with a well-led team is paramount. New leaders must be inclusive, self-aware and great listeners who are attuned to the needs of their teams.”Ann Doerr, who has held several management positions and is currently the chair of Khan Academy, said she and her husband had previously donated $15 million to establish the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership in 2009. RCEL has since resulted in groups like Engineers Without Borders, which sends student leaders to Nicaragua and Honduras. However, the Doerrs said they would like to see all students, regardless of major, develop leadership skills.Kolditz, who has more than 25 years of experience in leadership roles, said he believes four years at the Doerr Institute would allow students to continue fostering their abilities even after graduation.“Most of a person’s capacity to lead is learned,” Kolditz said. “Seventy percent of that is gained through experience, not classrooms, so the opportunities to lead teams at Rice are essential to the success of the Doerr Institute.”Kolditz previously held positions as the director of the Leadership Development Program at the Yale School of Management and leading the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.Rice President David Leebron said he is hopeful about the impact the institute would have on Rice’s transformative undergraduate experience.“By donating the largest single gift in the university’s history and dedicating it to leadership education, the Doerrs will enable Rice to be the front-runner in empowering students with the skills, training and confidence to make a true difference in the world,” Leebron said.