Brown College is the largest of the nine current residential colleges at Rice University, however when the tenth and eleventh colleges (named McMurtry College and Duncan College, respectively) are finally completed they will each have more capacity than Brown. Founded in 1965 as an all-women's college, it became coed in 1987. Brown members have consistently demonstrated athletic ability, consistently showing up in the top three spots for the President's Cup and Beer Bike races. Brown also has a strong winning tradition in Powderpuff, volleyball, and Men's soccer. The college hosts two widely anticipated parties, Margaritaville in the fall and Bacchanalia in the spring. Brown also has a vibrant theater program and a strong history of volunteer work.
Brown has an active and efficient college government that is responsible for everything from organizing sports teams to throwing parties and other social events to writing and enforcing Brown's rules and regulations. Brown is also known as the most tight knit college at Rice, as the double rooms and communal bathrooms easily facilitate getting to know everyone at the college.
In the beginning, Brown had a housemother who lived in the resident associate’s apartment who required all women to check in and out of the building at night and on weekends. The first master of Brown was Frank Vandiver, who later became president of Texas A&M. In 1966 he resigned from Brown because of a “scandal” – the members of Brown voted to drink alcohol in their own rooms (provided they were of legal drinking age). Vandiver resigned because he considered it inappropriate behavior for young ladies.
Up until her death in 1985, Alice Pratt Brown was an active patron of the college, giving the college much of the furniture and art in the first floor lobbies and private dining room.
As the colleges became coed in 1971, Brown held out as the only female college until 1987, when male members were accepted into the college for the first time. However, the community bathrooms on all floors remained coed until 1994, when the bathrooms were remodeled and separate facilities for men and women were built on each floor. Also in 1994, Brown ceased to be the only college with one RA when it remodeled the suite and single on the eighth floor in order to form another RA apartment. Now the new wing has an RA apartment on its fourth floor.
The new wing at Brown opened in 2002. The new wing houses 56 additional students making Brown the largest residential college on campus (it was previously the smallest). Unlike the tower, which consists of doubles and singles with community bathrooms, the new wing is made up of four-person suites. Each suite has four small single rooms, a large common room, and a private bathroom.
Academics: Seeks and carries out ideas for college courses, maintains the college test file, coordinates a college tutoring system, and stimulates and encourages intellectual activities in the college. This committee oversees sophomore advising with assistance from the appointed faculty associates and is also responsible for maintenance and improvement of the college library.
Associates and Alumni: Encourages the continued interaction of alumni/alumnae and associates and plans and coordinates activities involving alumni/alumnae and associates.
Beer-Bike: Selects chug and bike team captains; practice times for the bike teams, beer teams and the pit crew; mock race dates; and coordinates these teams on the day of the race. This committee is also responsible for securing sponsorship, choosing the team's colors, choosing and announcing the theme, securing trucks, printing T-shirts, planning the entrance parade, finding members of Brown to do security on the day of the race, and submitting a budget recommendation to the Cabinet.
Brown Events: Coordinates Brown Day, Staff Appreciation Day, and the Holiday Party. This committee also assists the Masters, particularly in the area of social activities; the chairperson(s) works with the Masters in the planning and execution of any such function. It also coordinates any similar events not already coordinated by the Social or Cultural Coordinators.
College Night: Plans and schedules both the fall and spring college nights as well as working with the Associates Coordinator to plan the guest list.
Computers: Responsible for the maintenance and repair of the college computers (including the College Coordinator's) and updating the Brown webpage.
Elections: Responsible for publicizing and conducting elections. This committee also tabulates and posts election results and maintains an elections file.
Food: Serves as the official liaison between the College and the Food and Housing Committee chaired by the Director of the University Food Service.
Historian: Responsible for the annual scrapbook and the annual Brown picture.
Permanent Improvements: Plans for the overall development of the public area of the college, especially the first floor, basement, roof and outdoor areas, and makes the major expenditures for improvements as authorized by the Cabinet.
Social Concerns: Plans and encourages participation in activities which are of broader social importance than most college activities. It coordinates such activities as voter registration, working with underprivileged children and projects which concern involvement in and with the community. The chairperson is responsible for Brown's semesterly blood drive. In the case of unusual situations (such as a death in the family, a new baby, an illness) involving a member or associate of the college, the Social Concerns Committee is responsible for purchasing flowers, cards, and/or other appropriate gifts.
Sports: Encourages participation in intramural and extramural sports. It also coordinates Brown's college sports teams.
Environmental Concerns: Focuses on developing ways to make Brown college more environmentally friendly. Organizes events and publications to help turn Brown College "green". This is the newest committee.