Rice: The Next Century

Report of the Strategic Planning Committee

Our Legacy


Rice has always been guided by a clear and compelling vision of excellence. At our founding a century ago, President Edgar Odell Lovett brought together a distinguished group of scholars committed to the goal of creating "a university of the highest grade." They were convinced that the new university must be "an institution of liberal and technical learning, dedicated to the advancement of letters, science and art." Lovett envisioned that learning at Rice be distinguished at every stage, and for everyone involved, both "by instruction and by investigation."[1] To further these ends, he and his colleagues insisted that Rice remain a relatively small, residential institution in which students would have ready access to their professors outside as well as inside the classroom. Faculty members came to Rice because of their commitment to the education of undergraduates, their concern for shaping the minds of their graduate students, and their desire to conduct original, creative research.

The insights of the founders are their best legacy. Together with the lofty standards they set, their ideas remain as generative today as they were at the beginning of the century. So it is both useful and reassuring to begin this report with an overview of Rice University at this point in our history. Where do we stand in relation to our predecessors' aspirations for our university?

Among the 4,000 colleges and universities that make up our nation's higher education system, Rice stands in the front rank. We attract students of remarkable intellect and talent. Our graduates are eagerly pursued by graduate and professional schools and by business and government. The faculty take their teaching responsibilities seriously, and most contribute significantly to their own fields of research and scholarship, gaining international distinction for the University. They give generously of their time to students and colleagues. They participate in the academic governance of the University, and many are active in the Houston community as well.

Our Institutes and Centers are widely acclaimed as models of interdisciplinary research. The residential colleges provide a structured and supportive living environment that fosters both social and intellectual interaction among undergraduates. Guided by our Board of Governors, the architectural integrity of the campus has been maintained and enhanced to an extent rarely to be found elsewhere. Equally noteworthy, the prudent management of the University's financial resources allows Rice to provide an outstanding educational experience to qualified students regardless of their financial means.

These achievements attest to our abiding enthusiasm for the values that informed Rice's founding and early growth. The ideal which Dr. Lovett established for this University still guides most of what we do today. It is the source of our pride, our richest opportunities and our most vexing challenge - to be a small undergraduate institution dedicated to liberal education of the highest order and, at the same time, a research university of national rank. The healthy tension generated by this dual commitment is manifest across the University in the academic, administrative, and resource deployment questions we perpetually face. This creative tension serves as an organizing theme for this report.


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This document is maintained by the Office of the Provost at Rice University. Last updated: 06 May 1997.
Copyright 1996-97 Rice University