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NEWS 5/14/13 7:00pm

Tennis complex construction to start this summer

Tennis at Rice, for recreational, club and varsity players, will soon have a new home. Construction will begin this summer for the George R. Brown Tennis Complex, which held its groundbreaking ceremony on May 7, according to Director of Athletics and Recreation Rick Greenspan. 

NEWS 4/18/13 7:00pm

Students to launch bike share system

In fall 2013, Rice Bike Share will enable students to rent bikes on a per-semester or per-year basis. According to McMurtry College junior Sena McCrory, one of the organizers of Rice Bike Share, the idea for a bike-sharing program at Rice University emerged from a group project in the class ENST 302: Environmental Issues: Rice Into the Future, taught by Department of Sociology chair Elizabeth Long and professor in the practice of environmental studies and sociology Richard Johnson. "Each group had a project in the class," McCrory said. "We decided to make a bike-sharing program at Rice, and we decided to continue working on the project even after the semester was over."To further this program, the original project group made up of McCrory, bioengineering graduate student Allen Chen and Brown College junior Clement Ory added other members such as Martel College EcoRep Denis Leahy, Student Association Environmental Committee members Woojin Lee and Oscar Xu, and Rice Bike Shop employees Matt Makansi and Ben Sachs.Chen said the original goal of the project expanded in order to provide more opportunities to students."At first, we were interested in it because we wanted to make it more convenient to move around campus," Chen said. "Then we decided to establish a bike-sharing program at Rice to encourage students to travel off campus in an environmentally friendly way."Chen said the group researched other bike-sharing programs in cities or at other universities as well as previous unsuccessful attempts to establish such a program at Rice.According to McCrory and Leahy, the main reasons previous attempts were unsuccessful were that student accountability for the bikes was low, the bikes were of poor quality, the programs did not have access to bike maintenance, and the attempts were organized by individual colleges rather than as a centralized, campuswide effort. To avoid these mistakes with Rice Bike Share, the project organizers involved the Rice Bike Shop to help with maintenance as well as bike selection. With Rice Bike Share, students will be more accountable for the bikes they use since they will be borrowing the bikes for a longer term than in previous programs, McCrory said. "The students will check out the bikes once they sign up, will have to go through safety and maintenance training, and will sign liability forms," McCrory said. "They will return them during the finals before winter break, and if they are renting for a year, they will pick up another bike the second semester. They can get check-ups and maintenance at the Bike Shop, which is what $40 of the $50 they pay for bike rental goes toward. We also provide baskets and locks."Additionally, partner rentals are an option, in which a student can rent a bike and share it with a friend, according to McCrory. This option costs $70 total per semester, $35 per person.Martel senior Anna Meriano said she likes the concept of Rice Bike Share."I think bike renting is a great idea, especially for people who don't have cars but occasionally need to go off campus to somewhere nearby," Meriano said.

NEWS 4/18/13 7:00pm

Beer Bike coordinators to vote on reduction in biker numbers

 Beer Bike coordinators are voting on a reduction of the number of bikers per team from 10 to eight, according to Campuswide Coordinator Soorya Avali.Avali, a Brown College junior, said each college has one vote and that voting would conclude Friday, April 19. Each college is represented by its college Beer Bike coordinators, who were told to gauge their college's opinions, Avali said. "[After Friday], we'll decide what's going to happen," Avali said. "We're leaving it up to the vote, [but] there are policies in the rulebook. We'll just make a decision when it comes down to it."Avali said the decision was an informal issue that comes up annually."It's not an official proposal," Avali said. "It's just what we talk about at meetings. If someone brings up a concern, we talk about it. It's one of those things someone always brings up. It gets re-debated on a regular basis."Last year, the proposal came up at a time when newly selected coordinators who did not have any experience held the vote, Avali said."It was contentious, with a lot of meetings and debate," Avali said. "We ended up rejecting the change. Now, the people who just got done with Beer Bike are the ones on the decision."Avali said he had received the most amount of feedback from Will Rice College students opposed to the idea of reducing the number of bikers.Will Rice Beer Bike Coordinator Shayak Sengupta said he and his college were against the reduction and that they plan to vote against it. "We're all randomly assigned to the colleges, so that seems logical and fair," Sengupta, a sophomore, said. "There's no reason why we need to cut down on the number because every college has a fair shot at picking bikers and chuggers."Baker College Beer Bike Coordinator Andrew Stout said he and his college would appreciate the reduction in bikers."I'm speaking on behalf of my experience at Baker .... It's hard for us to find riders," Stout, a sophomore, said. "As you probably know, Baker is not very good at Beer Bike. Sometimes, we have to have riders go multiple times. I voted yes [to] switching to eight. It will make it easier for next year's [college Beer Bike] coordinators. But if [the vote] went the other way, it wouldn't be a big deal to me."

NEWS 4/18/13 7:00pm

Gustin wins George R. Brown teaching award

Rice University alumni from the past decade have selected professor of biochemistry and cell biology Michael Gustin as this year's recipient of the George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching.According to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, alumni who graduated two, four and five years ago vote to nominate their professors. The awards are then given to the 10 professors with the most votes, one of whom receives the award for excellence in teaching. The remaining nine professors receive awards for superior teaching.Gustin, a professor at Rice since 1988, said he feels honored to receive his award."Teaching is being challenged by new ideas about how to teach students, particularly in the sciences," Gustin said. "An important part of teaching a course is to try to build a community. It's an opportunity to learn together. Every time I teach, I'm always learning."Gustin said the increasing number of online courses can sometimes lack this sense of community.Gustin said he began to ask himself last year about the purpose of a university and came to the answer that, in university courses, teachers can pass their interest in the material on to their students more effectively. "I'm a pretty enthusiastic guy," Gustin said. "I like what I'm working on, both in teaching and research. I think that enthusiasm is infectious for students."Gustin said his experience as a Wiess College master has been pivotal in his effort to learn all of his students' names in his introductory biology course this year. Hutchinson said all 10 recipients of Brown teaching awards will be honored at 3 p.m. Monday, April 22 at a reception in Keck Hall Room 100. Last year's winner, John and Ann Doerr Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics Mark Embree, will give a lecture about his experiences teaching in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics. All Rice students are invited to attend, Hutchinson said.Hutchinson said the Committee on Teaching, which chooses the recipients from those nominated by alumni, takes class size and subject into consideration."There is a concern that large classes have more alumni, so [they] may attract more votes than small classes," Hutchinson said. "This method actually makes it possible for recognition for faculty teaching all kinds of classes."According to Hutchinson, the nine recipients of awards in superior teaching are professor of biochemistry and cell biology Yousif Shamoo, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science Brent Houchens, professor in the practice of bioengineering Ann Saterbak, professor of economics James Brown, associate professor of history Alexander Byrd, associate professor of sociology Rachel Kimbro, professor of architecture Carlos Jimenez, professor of English Helena Michie and professor of mathematics Michael Wolf.Kimbro said receiving her award was a major highlight of her career."I really thrive on in-classroom engagement with my students," Kimbro said. "I'm very proud to join the large cadre of other sociology professors who have won this award."

NEWS 4/18/13 7:00pm

Owlspark receives $200k grant for entrepreneurship

OwlSpark, Rice University's newest organization to further entrepreneurship by Rice students, recently received a $200,000 grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. The funding will go toward social entrepreneurship ventures that will be added to the program this summer, according to OwlSpark co-founder Veronica Saron.

NEWS 3/13/13 7:00pm

Undergraduate tuition announced for 2013-14

Another year means another tuition increase. Undergraduate tuition will be increasing from $36,610 to $38,260 for the 2013-14 school year, according to Vice President for Finance Kathy Collins. Although tuition continues to rise, its rate of growth is decreasing, Collins said. "This is an increase of 4.5 [percent]," Collins said. "Last year it was at 4.9 [percent]. Prior to that, it was 5.3 [percent]. Every year is its own year and its own decision. The trend is slower growth." Collins said the main expenses for the university are paying faculty and staff salaries and that recent building construction has increased facility maintenance costs. "The main sources of revenue to the budget are the endowment and net tuition revenue," Collins said. "Tuition is not going to support the cost of the colleges." According to Collins, financial aid will increase to reflect the increase in tuition. "Rice has maintained need-blind admissions," Collins said. "[Rice] fully meets financial need. Two-thirds of our entering class used financial aid. Rice cares very much about affordability. I think our financial aid policies reflect that." Despite the increase in tuition, Rice still costs less than many peer institutions and is ranked No. 2 for best value, Collins said. "For Rice students who come from lower income levels, there are no loan requirements in financial aid packages," Collins said. "We've limited the loans that we require to $10,000 over four years, which is a great deal compared to other schools." According to the Rice University press release, total cost of attendance, including mandatory fees and room and board, will be $51,950, a 4.1 percent increase over last year. Duncan College freshman Sean Lee said he understood the reasoning behind the increase. "The biggest jumps in tuition started after Rice wanted to become a larger and better university," Lee said. "I think we can expect increases in tuition if we really want to attend a top-notch institution." Managing Edtior Molly Chiu contributed to this article. 

NEWS 2/20/13 6:00pm

Harlem Shake strikes academic quad

The catchy beat of recent viral hit Harlem Shake by Baauer permeated the warm air in Rice University's academic quadrangle Feb. 17. More than 1,000 Rice students, some lured by rumors that sprinter Usain Bolt would make a showing, came to the impromptu recording of the popular meme, according to event organizer Clayton Chaney. 

NEWS 1/30/13 6:00pm

Blanket tax review committee presents recommendations

The Student Association Blanket Tax Committee aims to deliver recommendations to campus organizations, but some disagree with how the process was carried out. On Jan. 28, the committee presented its report to the Student Senate in an attempt to review the financial figures for major organizations on campus and ensure blanket tax money was being properly used to serve Rice students, committee member Krish Ramineni said.