William Marsh Rice University (commonly called Rice University and opened in 1912 as The William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Letters, Science and Art) is a private, comprehensive research university located in Houston, Texas, United States, near the Museum District and adjacent to the Texas Medical Center. Rice is noted for its strength in the applied sciences and its elite undergraduate division. The university has been a pioneer in the fields of nanotechnology, artificial heart research, structural chemical analysis, and space science.
U.S. News & World Report ranks Rice's undergraduate program seventeenth among national universities (immediately preceded by Brown University and followed by Emory University. According to the Princeton Review's 2007 rankings, Rice ranks first for "Best Quality of Life," third for “Best Overall Academic Experience for Undergraduates,” and among the top 20 schools where students “Never Stop Studying.” The same publication named Rice first in the nation for “Lots of Race / Class Interaction.” In the 2008 edition of the Princeton Review, Rice was ranked as the #1 "Best Value" private institution.
Undergraduate admission is highly selective with offers of admission made to only 22% of its applicants for the Class of 2011. Of the 727 who enrolled, 76% were among top 5% in their high school classes. 19% of the freshman class were valedictorians. Verbal SAT scores for the Class of 2011 were between 660 and 760 (for the 25th and 75th percentiles of this class respectively), while SAT math scores were between 670 and 780 (again, for the 25th and 75th percentiles of the class) . The middle 50% of ACT scores ranges from 30-34 on a scale of 0-36. Approximately twenty percent of undergraduates are National Merit Scholars, and Rice has often enrolled the highest percentage of National Merit Finalists in its freshman class among American universities. No university enrolls more National Science Fellows per capita than does Rice.
Comprehensively, the 2006 Academic Ranking of World Universities, popularized by The Economist and produced by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Institute of Higher Education, ranked Rice amongst the top 100 institutions globally in terms of quality of scientific research leading towards numerous awards. Also, in the annual rankings by the The Times Higher Education Supplement, based on a subjective peer review by scholars, Rice finished amongst the top 150 schools internationally. In Washington Monthly's College Ranking (which ranks colleges by what good they do for the country) Rice was ranked #26. These rankings highlight the emphasis Rice places on its undergraduates, yet also signal the school's ability to maintain a reputable research environment at the graduate level. Rice University possesses an endowment of $4.7 billion (as of 2007), fifth-highest per student among U.S. universities. The generous exercise of these funds allows the university to charge lower tuition and room and board than its peers, as indicated by its $29,960 tuition and $21,157 average freshman total need-based gift aid, leading it to be mentioned as a “Best Buy” school.
The Rice campus is a heavily-wooded tract of land adjoining Hermann Park, the Texas Medical Center, and a neighborhood commercial center called the Rice Village. Hermann Park includes the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre and an 18-hole municipal golf course. Reliant Park, home of Reliant Stadium and the Astrodome, is two miles (3 km) south of the campus. Among the dozen or so museums in the Museum District is the Rice University Art Gallery, open during the school year. Easy access to downtown's theater and nightlife district and to Reliant Park is provided by the Houston METRORail system, with a station adjacent to the campus's main gate. The campus recently joined the Zipcar program with two vehicles to increase the transportation options for students and staff that need that currently don't utilize a vehicle.
Several interdisciplinary research institutes, schools and think tanks are located on the Rice campus, including the Rice School of Architecture, Shepherd School of Music, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Rice Quantum Institute, the Rice Engineering Design and Development Institute, the Rice Design Alliance, the Computer and Information Technology Institute, the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, and the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology.
The campus consists of a number of quadrangles, and features buildings designed in an eclectic Mediterranean style by Ralph Adams Cram of the Boston architectural firm of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson. The campus is peppered with newer constructions by architects such as Cesar Pelli and Michael Graves. The Academic Quad, anchored by a statue of founder William Marsh Rice, includes Cram's masterpiece, Lovett Hall; Fondren Library; and buildings for physics, architecture, arts and the humanities. A trinity of sculptures by Michael Heizer, collectively entitled 45 Degrees, 90 Degrees, 180 Degrees, dominates The Engineering Quad, which houses the departments of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry and computer science. Undergraduates are housed in the nine residential colleges (Baker, Brown, Hanszen, Jones, Lovett, Martel, Sid Richardson, Wiess, and Will Rice). The tenth and eleventh residential colleges, McMurtry and Duncan, are currently under construction.
Each residential college has developed its own traditions, including Baker 13, and the Night of Decadence (also known as NOD). Due in part to the traditions of the college system, Seventeen magazine named Rice the "coolest college in the land" in its "Top 100 Coolest Colleges" issue (October 2002).
Rice University was founded by William Marsh Rice in 1891 and was originally named The William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Letters, Science, and Art.
Before the Rice Institute could be opened, there were challenges to be endured. William Marsh Rice, 84 and living alone in New York, was poisoned by his valet in 1900. On discovery that Rice's will had been changed to leave the bulk of his estate to a lawyer "friend," Albert T. Patrick, Mr. Rice's lawyers and the New York district attorney uncovered evidence proving Patrick had conspired with Rice's valet to prepare the false will, leading to Patrick's murder conviction in 1901. Legal challenges to William Rice's will continued through 1904, when the Rice Institute finally received a $4.6 million (about $95 million in 2005 dollars) funding endowment. By the time the Institute opened in 1912, its endowment had grown to almost $10 million, the seventh largest university endowment in the country at the time.
Edgar Odell Lovett of Princeton was selected as the first president of the Rice Institute. Lovett undertook extensive research before formalizing plans for the new Institute, including visits to 78 institutions of higher learning across the world in 1908 and 1909. The cornerstone was laid for the first campus building, now Lovett Hall, in 1911. In 1912, course work began. Rice was unusual for that time in admitting both male and female students. The first class consisted of 48 men and 29 women. The student body voted to adopt an Honor System in 1916; Rice's first commencement exercises were held the same year.
In 1930, the founder's memorial statue, a landmark to the campus, was dedicated. The residential college system was adopted in 1957.
In 1959, the Rice Institute Computer went online. 1960 saw Rice Institute formally renamed William Marsh Rice University. Rice acted as a temporary intermediary in the transfer of land between Humble Oil and Refining Company and NASA, for the creation of NASA's Manned Space Flight Center (now called Johnson Space Center) in 1962. President John F. Kennedy then made a speech at Rice Stadium announcing that the United States intended to reach the moon before the end of the decade of the 1960s, and "to become the world's leading space-faring nation." The relationship of NASA with Rice University and the city of Houston has remained strong to the present day.
The original charter of Rice Institute dictated that the university admit and educate, tuition-free, "the white inhabitants of Houston, and the state of Texas." In 1963, the governing board of Rice University filed a lawsuit to allow Rice to modify its charter to admit students of all races and to charge tuition. They had explicitly not admitted African-Americans in the past. Rice won its case, and charged tuition for the first time in 1965. In the same year, Rice launched a $33 million (about $200 million in 2005 dollars) development campaign. $43 million (about $215 million in 2005 dollars) was raised by its conclusion in 1970. In 1974, two new schools were founded at Rice, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management and the Shepherd School of Music. The Brown Foundation Challenge, a fund-raising program designed to encourage annual gifts, launched in 1976, ending in 1996 having raised $185 million (about $225 million in 2005 dollars). The Rice School of Social Sciences was founded in 1979.
The Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations was held at Rice in 1990. In 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy was created. In 1997, the Edyth Bates Old Grand Organ and Recital Hall and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, renamed in 2005 for the late Nobel Prize winner and Rice professor Richard E. Smalley, were dedicated at Rice. In 1999, the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology was created. The Rice Owls baseball team was ranked #1 in the nation for the first time in that year (1999), holding the top spot for eight weeks. In 2003, the Owls won their first national championship in baseball, which was the first for the university in any team sport, beating Southwest Missouri State in the opening game and then the University of Texas and Stanford University twice each en route to the title.
Some excellent information about the history of Rice can be found at the web site of the Rice Historical Society, .
Each college enjoys the diversity of the greater university with regard to attributes such as majors, ethnicities, personalities, and athletic status and lack of athletic status. Students generally remain members of the college that they are assigned to for the duration of their undergraduate careers. Students are guaranteed on-campus housing for freshman year and two of the next three years; each college has its own system for determining allocation of the remaining spaces. Most colleges have some form of "room draw," in which people claim rooms in order of seniority. Each college is housed in its own building or set of buildings, including a common social area and a dining area, though some colleges share food serveries.
Some students develop strong loyalties to their college and maintain friendly rivalry with other colleges, especially during events such as Beer Bike and O-Week. Many students socialize mostly with students from their own colleges, especially in the freshman year. Colleges keep their rivalries alive by performing "jacks," or pranks, on each other, especially during O-Week (Orientation Week) and "Willy Week," the week preceding Beer Bike.
There are currently nine residential colleges, with six (Baker, Hanszen, Lovett, Sid Richardson, Wiess, and Will Rice) on the south side of campus and three (Brown, Jones, and Martel) on the north. Although each college is composed of a full cross-section of students at Rice, each college over time has developed its own personality and traditions to varying degrees. Each college except Sid Richardson College ("Sid Rich") is organized around its own small quadrangle.
During Matriculation, Commencement, and other formal academic ceremonies, the colleges process in the order in which they were established.
Baker College, slightly smaller than the other eight colleges, is officially oldest and includes the original wood-paneled library, living quarters, and dining facility of the campus. It is named after Captain James A. Baker, William Marsh Rice's lawyer who uncovered the plot of Rice's butler. Baker was also the grandfather of James A. Baker III, Secretary of State to President George H.W. Bush and the namesake of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy Traditions at Baker College include Baker Shakespeare--its annual and well-attended performance of a Shakespeare play--as well as another Shakespeare-themed event: Baker Feast. Baker also has an annual jazz-themed party, dubbed Baker Blues, and an annual Freshman Camping Trip, in which the freshman class brings back the college's -tall tall Christmas tree.
Will Rice College is the second college, though its original dormitory building, originally called South Hall, is the oldest building on campus built as a residential hall. Will Rice prides itself on its individualism and tends to focus on its extensive winning history in the annual Beer Bike competition. Will Rice was named not after Rice's founder but after his nephew William Marsh Rice Jr., who was himself a contributor to the university.
Hanszen College was the third residence built at Rice. Hanszen is known for its family atmosphere and for being mysteriously protective of a knight sculpture known as the Guardian on the college grounds. Incidentally, the knight sculpture was created by then freshman, Eric Oberman in 1991. The Guardian, as the knight is called, was created in response to a freshman prank by Wiess College after stealing the Hanszen college swing on several occasions. The knight was created to serve as the Guardian of the swing and still remains there today.
Wiess College, the fourth and westernmost college, was originally Wiess Hall, the first residence hall at Rice named after a person. Male and female members of Wiess College are known equally as Wiessmen and refer to their community as Team Wiess. Wiess has a reputation for being both especially cohesive and especially insular, with a more distinct or visible set of traditions than the other colleges and a tendency not to go along with trends embraced by the other colleges. In 2002, Wiess became the first college to move from one building to another, when a new college facility opened to replace Wiess Hall, which had deteriorated to the point of being nearly uninhabitable. Whereas the old Wiess was said (with some affection) to resemble a cheap motel, the new Wiess is often said to resemble a prison, with corrugated looking roofs, steel mesh railings, and narrow passages overlooked by balconies.
Lovett College was opened as an all-male college in 1968 after student riots of the 1960s, with an eye towards being riot-proof. Lovett, named after the first president of Rice, Edgar Odell Lovett, is sometimes referred to as "the toaster" after its rectangular facade and brutalist design. In 1973 Lovett instituted its now-venerable Casino Party. The college became co-ed in 1980.
Sid Richardson College, known as Sid Rich or simply Sid, is the tallest building on campus. Sid uses its height to advantage and uses "mors de super" (an extremely unidiomatic Latin rendering of "death from above") as its motto. Almost every Friday afternoon during the school year, Radio Free Sid (the name based on Radio Free Europe of the Cold War era) plays on large speakers from the topmost balcony. This music can be heard throughout the campus. Sid opened in 1971 in what was once part of Lovett College's parking lot, making Sid and Lovett sister colleges and arch-rivals.
Brown College, following a 2002 expansion, is the largest college based on number of members and residents.
The isolation of the two north colleges was reduced in 2002 by the opening of a third north college, Martel College. As a result of its recent formation, Martel has few traditions and is playfully mocked by the other colleges. However, it is becoming an integrated part of the Rice college system with some of the newest facilities on campus.
The colleges became co-ed in the following order: Baker and Hanszen in 1973, Will Rice in 1978, Lovett and Jones in 1980, Wiess in 1983, and Sid Richardson and Brown in 1987.
Martel is the only college which has always been co-educational.
The previous "Grad House"—converted from The Tidelands motel, where Bob Newhart recorded in 1960 his top-selling comedy album, "The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart"—was demolished and is now a fenced-in grassy field across from St. Luke's Hospital at the corner of South Main and University Blvd. It is the projected home of a new Collaborative Research Center, linking Rice and Texas Medical Center research.
Modeled after Rice president Edgar Odell Lovett's inaugural address, current Rice president David Leebron has made an assessment of Rice's direction a focal point of his presidency through his Vision for the Second Century. Emerging from President Leebron's Call to Conversation was a ten point plan for the future that suggested specific actions to be implemented at Rice in the coming decades. This Vision, as a product of conversations with alumni, current students, and faculty, embodied the collective answers the Rice community had provided to some of the more prominent questions facing Rice.It was delivered by the president in ten points for the future:
1. We must visibly and substantially increase our commitment to our research mission and raise our research and scholarship profile.
2. We must provide a holistic undergraduate experience that equips our students with the knowledge, the skills, and the values to make a distinctive impact in the world.
3. We must strengthen our graduate and postdoctoral programs to attract and recruit high-caliber students and young researchers.
4. We must aggressively foster collaborative relationships with other institutions to leverage our resources.
5. We must invest in a select number of interdisciplinary endeavors that will enable us to leverage our own strengths as well as the strengths of potential collaborators.
6. We must continue to invest in our professional schools in architecture, management, and music, as well as the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and seek ways to integrate their success into the broader university.
7. We must increase the size of the university to realize more fully our ambition as an institution of national and international distinction that attracts the very best students and researchers from around the globe.
8. We must become an international university, with a more significant orientation toward Asia and Latin America than now characterizes our commitments.
9. We must provide the spaces and facilities that will cultivate greater dynamism and vibrancy on the campus and foster our sense of community.
10. We must fully engage with the city of Houston—learning from it and contributing to it—as a successful partnership with our home city is an essential part of our future.
Collaborative Research Center
Occasionally, the Baker 13 run has taken place during the day, as was the case in one of the Beer Bike events that fell on the proper date. On this occasion, runners stormed the Beer Bike parade, only to have to quit, half way down, when the sweat started melting the shaving cream away.
The participants run to all residential colleges, often leaving shaving cream impressions by pressing their bodies on windows and doors. The results resemble the anthropometry paintings of Yves Klein. College members often throw water balloons on the runners. The runners usually shout the anti-cheer of the college they are running by and the Baker 13 cheer, "Join us! Join us!" Although the students are naked, the event is non-sexual, silly, and exuberant.
The run usually finishes at Valhalla, the graduate student pub on campus. In recent years runners have been given a complimentary soft-drink in lieu of free beer due to concerns about under-aged drinking. Sometimes the runners continue their run, joined by a Valhalla patron or two who decides to join in on the fun.
In 2002, as a precursor to the Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, the Olympic torch passed through Houston and Rice University. While it passed through the Rice campus, two Baker 13ers ran in front of it.
Instead of traditional costumes, students dress as degenerately (or as minimally) as possible. Pregnant nuns and drag dress are some of the tamer outfits. Although there are always several people creatively attired in Saran Wrap or fishnet stockings and pasties, a typical costume is boxer shorts for men, and bra and panties for women.
Because of its overtly sexual context, NOD eventually became a polarizing event on the Rice campus. Alternative events on campus included Night of Innocence (offered since 1977) and Night of Praise. NOD remains one of the most popular parties on campus, though the decorations have become more conservative in recent years.
In conjunction with the increase of the Texas legal drinking age to 21 in 1986 the rules were amended to permit underage chuggers to chug water instead of beer. Over the years underage chuggers increasingly exercised this option. In recent races even some students of legal drinking age have begun to chug water, and on some teams beer chugging may have disappeared altogether.
An excellent male chugger can finish a 24-ounce container in about three seconds (beer or water). Colleges place great pride in the skill of their chug teams (many holding chug practices every Thursday night for the entire year), though the vast majority of separation between teams is due to the cycling component. Ten riders and ten chuggers make up a team. Elaborate rules include details such as a prohibition of "bulky or wet clothing articles designed to absorb beer/water or prevent spilled beer/water from being seen" and regulations for chug can design.
Prior to the race, the colleges parade the wrong way along the one-way campus inner loop while participating in a water balloon fight, with 2008's battle featuring some 200,000 balloons thrown in an hour's time. In 2008, as a result of construction, the colleges began at Lovett Hall and proceeded to the stadium, a change from recent years. Preparations for the water fight and jacks begin at least a month in advance.
Certain colleges also have particular traditions regarding Beer Bike. Sid Richardson College purposefully disqualifies themselves each year.
Originally the Beer-Bike Race was limited to the all-male colleges, so the women's colleges ran a "Tea-Trike" race using tricycles.
The most notorious and legendary jack in Rice history was the turning of William Marsh Rice's statue in the Academic Quadrangle on April 12, 1988. After several months of detailed planning, a group of Wiessmen succeeded in lifting the bronze statue (using a hoist mounted on an A-frame), rotating it 180 degrees, and setting it back down undamaged on its stone pedestal. The university hired a contractor to turn Willy's statue back to its original position. While the students' apparatus cost only a couple of hundred dollars, the contractor used a hydraulic crane, charging several thousands of dollars, and managed to bend one of the pins in the process. The student pranksters were fined the cost of the job, but they raised more than enough funds by selling t-shirts bearing the blueprints of the A-frame structure. This jack instantly gained national publicity for Rice. Today the turning of the statue stands out as the epitome of a successful jack: creative, elaborate, highly visible, and harmless. In later years, legends evolved that the students were protesting a planned tuition increase or that the stunt symbolized the Founder turning his back on the administration in Lovett Hall. In fact, the prank was merely that--a prank.
After 20 years, on April 11, 2008, nine of the original 11 pranksters returned to campus to reveal their identities and how pulled off the infamous feat. Theresa Bujnoch '88 produced a one-hour documentary about the stunt. Titled "180 -- The Spin on Willy's Statue."
The pranksters who returned to campus are Alex Kazim, T.J. Brudner, Chris Cannon, Patrick Dyson, and Brian Sweeney, Christopher Ryan -- all from the Class of '88, and Greg Heath and Tom Reeves from the Class of '89. Kelley Miller (’88) was unable to attend.
The “mastermind” remains anonymous.
While on campus the participants officially announced the establishment of the Willy Revolution Engineering Undergraduate Innovation and Excellence Fund at Rice, made possible by their pooled contributions to the George R. Brown School of Engineering.
In January 1993, Coffeehouse added baked goods, expanded hours and applied for official club status. During this time, it moved to its current permanent location in the Rice Memorial Center. The Coffeehouse has continued operation as a non-profit organization seeking to serve students with a social space and cheap, quality product since.
In Coffeehouse's history there have been several planned expansions. In September 2003, the Coffeehouse paid $4,000 to architecture firm Vaughn & Clarkson to design three schemes for possible renovations and in August 2005 the Coffeehouse completed a partial redesign.
The Coffeehouse is known for being entirely student run and, since November 2005, serving fair trade Katz's coffee. It also distributes free coffee before closing every night, one of the most popular times to visit. The Coffeehouse often serves as a popular hangout, as all of the workers (or Keepers of the Coffee, as they are known) are undergraduates. These student workers give it a laid back attitude. Thresher staffers can often be found there, since an advertising deal between the two institutions grants them discounted coffee.
Plans for a franchise coffee establishment to be located in the yet constructed glass Pavilion behind Fondren Library, have spurred controversy on campus, especially since the Coffeehouse was not given a chance to bid on the space. Many students are afraid that this plan could replace the beloved student-run Coffeeshop with a corporate caffeine provider, ruining the fun atmosphere the Coffeehouse creates.
Nichols and materials science graduate student Kurt Alex dubbed the pub "Valhalla" when listening to Wagner's Das Rheingold, Scene II, during the pub's construction. The scene describes two giants from Norse mythology, Fasolt and Fafner, building the great hall Valhalla as a home for the gods.
Initially the lounge had no beer license. Graduate students kept private six-packs stored in a refrigerator. They were required to record the beers they brought in a notebook. The system had its flaws. "Sometimes sophisticated customers have been irate when their Coors has been drunk by a Budweiser drinker," it was noted in a GSA memorandum to the dean of students, requesting a beer and wine license. By the spring of 1971, Valhalla was up and running with regular evening hours.
Over the years, Valhalla has mostly been used by graduate students, but other adult members of the Rice community also feel at home. It's the kind of place where one can see a space physicist schmoozing with a groundskeeper. In the past Valhalla went through periods of having more "outsiders" than it wanted, but not in recent years.
In 2004, the Houston Press rated Valhalla the "Best Place to Meet Single Women," given its beer under a dollar and smart, single women.
With such tremendous popularity, the Pub ran a financial healthy surplus through the mid-1980s. Profits began to fall when Texas raised its drinking age to 21 in September 1986. The Pub eliminated weekend hours some time in the early 1990s. By 1994 the Pub was in serious financial trouble and in danger of closing down completely. Rice President Malcolm Gillis, a supporter of the Pub, waived or reduced some of the Pub's maintenances fees in order to keep it afloat.
In the early morning hours of April 6, 1995, less than a week shy of its 20th anniversary, the Pub was destroyed in a fire. The fire destroyed everything in the basement of the RMC, causing an estimated $2 million in total damage. A speedy renovation project allowed the basement to reopen in August 1995 with a new Pub. The following month, the Rice University Police Department, acting on an anonymous tip, arrested a Rice student who was later convicted in Federal court in Houston in January 1996.
The new Willy's Pub is larger, brighter, and cleaner than the old Pub, but perhaps for those very reasons, is considered by many alumni to be lacking in character. One subtle change that coincided with the re-opening is that the professional staff of the Student Center began a concerted effort to refer to the place as "Willy's" rather than simply "the Pub." Another, less subtle change is that the Pub no longer serves beer in the afternoons before 5pm.
In 2006, Willy's Pub became the number one distributor in the State of Texas of Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor.
Run by students, for students, Willy's features lunchtime Quizno's subs and Uno's pizza. After 5 p.m., Willy's offers bottled and draft beer for those 21 and over. While Pub Nights on Thursdays promise a big fun-filled crowd, the quieter daytime hours allow patrons to relax in front of the big-screen TV, study, or make use of the ping pong, pool table or wireless Internet. Willy's also hosts weekly events like Wednesday trivia nights, Monday drum circle nights, as well as the much esteemed dance club, Club Willy, twice a semester.
In spring 2001, the Rice undergraduate community voted in the general elections to support RBT as a blanket tax organization, effectively providing a yearly income of $10,000 to purchase new equipment and provide the campus with a variety of new programming. In the spring of 2005, RBT members decided the station need a new image and a new name: Rice Television 5.
The station has recently set about revitalizing its staff roster and campus image; one of RTV5's most popular shows is the 24 hour show, where a camera and couch placed in the RMC stay on air for 24 hours. One such show is held in fall and another in spring, usually during a weekend allocated for visits by prospective students.
RTV5 has a video on demand site at rtv5.rice.edu, where students can select what shows the network airs.
Rice participates in NCAA Division I athletics and is part of Conference USA. Rice was a member of the Western Athletic Conference before joining Conference USA on July 1, 2005. Rice is the second smallest school, measured by undergraduate enrollment, competing in NCAA D-IA football, just above the University of Tulsa's 2,756 and far smaller than the largest, Ohio State University with 48,955.
The Rice baseball team won the 2003 College World Series, defeating Stanford two games to one in the championship series, including a 14-2 rout in the final game. Because of the academic quality of the two finalists, the championship series earned nicknames such as the "RBIs and SATs Series." The victory made Rice University the smallest school in 51 years to win a national championship at the highest collegiate level of the sport. This is Rice's only national championship in a team sport. The Rice baseball team has played on campus at Reckling Park since the 2000 season and is by far the school's top athletic program. (As of 2008, the baseball team has won 12 consecutive conference championships in three different conferences – the final championship of the defunct Southwest Conference, all nine championships while a member of the Western Athletic Conference, and three more championships in its first three years as a member of Conference USA.) More recently, Rice's baseball team has finished third in both the 2006 and 2007 College World Series tournaments. Rice now has made six appearances to Omaha for the CWS. Baseball all-star Lance Berkman is a Rice baseball alumnus. In 2004, Rice became the first school ever to have three players selected in the first eight picks of the MLB draft when Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend were selected third, fourth, and eighth, respectively. In 2007, Joe Savery was selected as the 19th overall pick.
The on-campus football facility, Rice Stadium, was the site of Super Bowl VIII and a speech by John F. Kennedy on September 12, 1962 in which he challenged the nation to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. The speech, "Why the Moon" is available on the Rice Webcast Archive Rice Stadium opened in 1950 with a capacity of 70,000 seats. After improvements in 2006, the stadium is currently configured to seat 47,000 for football but can readily be reconfigured to its original capacity of 70,000, more than the total number of Rice alumni, living and deceased.
In addition to football, Rice Stadium also serves as the performance venue for the university's Marching Owl Band, or "MOB." Despite its name, the MOB is a scatter band which focuses on performing humorous skits and routines rather than traditional formation marching. Prior to the dissolution of the Southwest Conference, some of the most entertaining half-time shows to watch were during Rice vs. Texas A&M games, if only for the sheer contrast of the pure military precision of the Aggie Band versus the irreverent wackiness of the MOB.
In 2006, the football team qualified for its first bowl game since 1961, ending the second-longest bowl drought in the country at the time. On December 22, 2006, Rice played in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana, against the Sun Belt Conference champion, Troy. The Owls lost 41-17. The bowl appearance came after Rice had a 14-game losing streak from 2004-05 and went 1-10 in 2005. The streak followed an internally authorized 2003 McKinsey report that stated football, alone, was responsible for a $4 million deficit in 2002. Tensions remain high between the athletic department and faculty, as a few professors who chose to voice their opinion were in favor of abandoning the football program. Hired in January 2006, new head coach Todd Graham sparked the "Rice Renaissance," the revival of the Owl football program, before he moved on to Tulsa in January of 2007 despite having signed a contract less than 72 hours before leaving. David Bailiff replaced Graham and inherits a team poised to continue the success enjoyed in 2006. Sophomore wide receiver Jarett Dillard set an NCAA record in 2006 by catching a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games and takes a 15-game overall streak into the 2007 season.
Rice basketball teams won 10 conference titles in the former Southwest Conference (1918, 1935*, 1940, 1942*, 1943*, 1944*, 1945, 1949*, 1954*, 1970; * denotes shared title). Most recently, guard Morris Almond was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz. Rice recently named former Cal Bears head coach Ben Braun as head basketball coach. Braun takes over for Willis Wilson, fired after Rice finished the 2007-2008 season with a winless (0-16) C-USA record and overall record of 3-27.
Rice has been very successful in women's sports in recent years. In 2004-05, Rice sent its women's volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams to their respective NCAA tournaments. In 2005-06, the women's soccer, basketball, and tennis teams advanced, with five individuals competing in track and field. In 2006-07, the Rice women's basketball team made the NCAA tournament, while again five Rice track and field athletes received individual NCAA berths.
In addition to Rice Stadium and Reckling Park, on-campus facilities include Autry Court (basketball, volleyball); the Rice Track/Soccer Stadium (track and field, soccer) and the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium (tennis).
Rice also has a 12-member coed cheerleading squad and an all-female dance team, both of which perform at football and basketball games throughout the year. The cheerleading website is http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~cheer
Rice has a new basketball coach for 2008/2009...Ben Braun, formerly at UC Berkeley.
The university and Houston Independent School District jointly established The Rice School (La Escuela Rice), a kindergarten through 8th grade public magnet school in Houston. The school opened in August 1994. Through Cy-Fair ISD Rice University offers a credit course based summer school for grades 8 through 12. They also have skills based classes during the summer in the Rice Summer School.