There will be a campus-wide candlelight vigil on Sunday, September 11, at 8 p.m. in the Central Quad commemorating the 10th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. This vigil will begin with a reading of Tony Kushner's "A Prayer for New York," include prayers from a variety of religious organizations, and close with the Phils singing the National Anthem.
After a summer of deliberation, grant and endowment proposals totaling nearly $3 million from the KTRU radio tower sale have been approved by the Asset Liquidation Funds Appropriation Committee and President David Leebron. The grants that were supported will go into effect this year while the endowments await approval by the Board of Trustees at their upcoming September meeting.
Around 2,000 students donned their cowboy hats and plaid shirts for Martel College's "Don't Mess with Texas" party last Friday. As the first party of the year, this event is usually well attended, but this year's numbers were much higher than in previous years, Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson said.
Saint Arnold Brewing Co. will be toasting to Rice's Centennial Celebration with Centenni-Ale two beers specifically relabeled in honor of the university's centennial.
The new Dean of the School of Engineering Ned Thomas, who was appointed last spring, has now assumed his post in the department. His goals as dean focus on increasing the exposure and quality of Rice's engineering program by providing more opportunities for student leaders and competitions. Hailing from MIT's School of Engineering, Thomas was the head of the Department of Material Sciences and Engineering before coming to Rice. In addition to an academic background, Thomas also has experience in entrepreneurship, starting multiple companies over the course of his career since his undergraduate days at the University of Massachusetts. "Cambridge has that effect on people," Thomas said. "Once they drink the juice up there, a lot of them decide to start their own businesses."Thomas cited two examples of organizations he's founded: OmniGuide, a medical devices company founded in 2000 that specializes in making minimally-invasive laser surgical tools, and the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, a division of MIT focused on serving soldiers by developing lightweight army gear and creating devices that can seek out bombs remotely. He said the motivation behind these two creations sprung from his entrepreneurial experiences as an undergraduate and consequently, he wants to promote a similar environment for engineers at Rice. In Thomas' opinion, Rice – as a relatively small university – is the perfect size for cultivating excellence in engineering across the board. Thomas described his vision as encouraging engineering students to engage in competition, to experience leadership in preparation for the working world and to increase their capacities to innovate. He said he especially emphasized connecting with entrepreneurs, and expressed support for programs like the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership and Rice Alliance. "If a student gets involved in these programs, they may not eventually start their own company, but they'll meet people who might inspire them to explore the possibilities and innovate in other ways," Thomas said. Martel College sophomore and chemical engineering student Luz Rocha said she thinks Thomas will be an effective dean and that his goal for developing leadership within the school of engineering is heading in the right direction, especially with recent initiatives like RCEL. According to Rocha, RCEL helps engineering students connect with other engineering students outside of their major and year. She said she hopes the RCEL program will continue growing to include more events and ways to promote leadership and networking within the School of Engineering and she hope these efforts will extend the program's impact beyond Rice. However, Rocha said the new dean might face challenges in implementing engineering leadership programs in ways that students will both enjoy and feel are crucial to their engineering education. Still, she added that she was optimistic about the feasibility of Thomas' vision. "I think the vision can definitely become practical as leadership expands through engineering," Rocha noted. "I'm sure several engineering students are interested in that sort of thing and, given proper guidance, can definitely develop that interest into something more concrete that can eventually lead to entrepreneurship in engineering companies."
Rice Student Volunteer Program's Outreach Day pulled in 478 new students fresh out of Orientation Week on Saturday, Aug. 20 to help the Houston community on 26 different projects. Director of the Community Involvement Center Mac Griswold said considering the combined efforts, those students completed 2,018 hours of community service. "There's an organization called Independent Sector who calculates the dollar value of volunteer work who says the students did $43,000 worth of work in one day," Griswold said. Students signed up before and during O-Week for projects before they knew what Outreach Day was, Griswold said. However, according to Griswold a problem with signing up early was that students wanted to change projects once they had made friends during O-Week. Next year, only half of the projects will be allowed to fill up before O-Week starts, he said. This year's projects included some familiar sites that have been included in Outreach Day in the past, like the Houston Arboretum and the Hermann Park Conservancy. "They are always willing to take on students," Griswold said. Jones College freshman Ashley Joseph volunteered at the Houston Food Bank sorting boxes of food for Outreach Day. "I definitely felt like I was connected to the Houston community through this service project," Joseph said, "It was wonderful being part of an organization even if only for a morning that has such a great impact on the community it serves."Several new partners joined Outreach Day this year, like Hostelling International, an association of hostels in 90 countries throughout the world. A Rice alumnus, Morty Rich, died in a plane crash and left money to start Hostelling International, Griswold said. Sixty students joined the Hostelling project on Outreach Day. Jones sophomore Rohan Shah lead a new site at Houston Interfaith Worker's Justice. "The fact that the CIC expanded and included this program is a big deal," Shah said. "If you think about current issues regardless of political spectrum or beliefs, immigration itself is a touchy subject, but [HIWJ's aid to illegal immigrants] is human rights that all people can agree on."A variety of other projects were also offered, making it hard for new students like Joseph to choose. "The projects catered to a lot of different talents and interests," Joseph said. "It was difficult to pick a single project for which to register!" Outreach Day was successful this year and has made her want to continue doing community service in Houston through RSVP, Joseph said. "[We had] very positive reactions for this year's first year students," Griswold said. "It was really obvious that they brought a passion and enthusiasm that has not been as strong in past years."The next RSVP Outreach Day will be in November.