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State of the University Address

by President Leebron

September 27, 2017

3:00 P.M.

 

Faculty Senate Speaker Jeffrey Fleisher welcomed faculty members and administrators to the annual State of the University Address in McMurtry Auditorium of Duncan Hall. He said that all faculty members have representatives on the Senate, and he encouraged faculty to contact their senators. Fleisher also stated that the Senate meetings are open and faculty are welcome to attend. He then welcomed President Leebron to the podium.

President Leebron announced the three main topics for his State of the University Address: Rice’s response to Hurricane Harvey, annual statistics regarding the university, and the draft Vision for the Second Century II (V2C2).

RICE’S RESPONSE TO HURRICANE HARVEY

Leebron presented a list of the individuals who make up Rice’s Crisis Management Team, and he thanked them for their service during and after Hurricane Harvey, especially those staff members who “rode out the storm” on campus. Leebron said that their dedication to Rice students included preparation well in advance of the storm, such as infrastructure improvements and the stocking of supplies. He thanked faculty and staff for the timely reopening of the Rice campus, saying that all but one class resumed on September 5, the day after the Labor Day holiday.

Leebron also commended the Rice-Harvey Action Team (R-HAT) which uses data to refine information and target responses for those in need, especially the “Nerdpack” team. In addition, he stated that the goal of Rice’s Houston Engagement and Recovery Effort (HERE) team is to achieve short and long-term recovery strategies through research-driven ideas.

THE STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY

Leebron presented a variety of statistics regarding Rice’s student body, the faculty, university finances, and building projects.

Leebron compared the pool of student applicants from 2004 and 2017. He said that the number of undergraduate students who applied to Rice in 2004 was 8,106, while the number who applied in 2017 was more than double at 18,063. He said that Rice’s admit rate in 2004 was 22% and today it is 16%. Leebron added that in 2004, 5% of the applicants were international students, while today the international applications total 17%. He said that the student body enrollment reflects its applicant pool; in 2004, 3% of the enrolled students were international, while in 2017, 11% are international.

Regarding graduate students, Leebron stated that the student body at Rice is now comprised of 43% graduate students and 57% undergraduates. Leebron also noted a tenfold increase in students enrolled in the professional master’s programs offered at Rice since 2006.

Leebron compared faculty numbers from 2004 and 2017. He said that in 2004, Rice’s faculty was comprised of 83% tenured/tenure-track (TTT) faculty and 17% non-tenure-track faculty (NTT). Today, he said that the TTT faculty comprise 71% of the total faculty, while NTT total 29%. Leebron said that the majority of the increase in NTT faculty was in a few areas: foreign language instruction, first-year writing programs, and Social Sciences. In overall numbers, Leebron said that faculty hiring has been steady with approximately 25 new faculty members hired each year.

Leebron presented faculty numbers by race/ethnicity and by gender. He noted that 24% of Rice faculty are not citizens of the United States, and at least 30% received their pre-graduate education from outside the United States. On a related topic, Leebron said that there are only ten Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students attending Rice this fall, as compared to previous years when 40 or 50 DACA students attended Rice.

Regarding faculty research, Leebron said that sponsored research has grown from $66.9 million in 2004 to $130.2 million in 2017.

Leebron said that Rice’s endowment has grown to $5.8 billion, and that Rice is one of just a few institutions that have earned the AAA rating from Moody’s.

Leebron then reviewed Rice’s completed capital projects and plans, including the nearly-complete Cambridge office building and parking garage. He said that the Rice staff currently housed in the Memorial Hermann Tower and the Rice-owned Greenbriar building would soon be moved into the Cambridge building.

Leebron also introduced the new administrators and Board of Trustees members to the faculty by presenting slides with their names, titles, and photos.

Finally, Leebron presented the various high rankings that Rice has recently received by various groups, including its recent number 14 ranking among National Universities in U.S. News and World Report.

VISION FOR THE SECOND CENTURY II

Leebron reviewed the goals and achievements from the 2005 Vision for the Second Century (V2C). Then he presented the strategic goals for the Vision for the Second Century II (V2C2) as determined by answers from the Rice community to a series of vision questions asked by the university administration.

  • Transform undergraduate education
  • Build internationally preeminent graduate and Ph.D. programs
  • Expand access, diversity, and inclusiveness
  • Enhance research achievement and reputation
  • Build faculty strategically to achieve preeminence
  • Engage Houston as a model and laboratory for 21stcentury cities
  • Extend Rice’s reach and impact
    • Expand Rice’s global reach and impact through digital education
    • Position Rice as a leader and innovator in education technologies
    • Develop five online master’s programs of exceptional quality
    • Deeper engagement of alumni

Leebron discussed three emerging ideas that Rice LIFT (Leading Innovation through Faculty Thought) and the strategic planning process has identified: Engineering and Medicine; Materials; and Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology. He also reiterated the possibility of Rice educating many more students through digital education.

Leebron said that the draft V2C2 document would be ready for distribution within a few days. He encouraged the Rice community to review the document and provide their comments. He said that the final document would be presented to the Board of Trustees in December 2017 for their approval.

Finally, Leebron stated that in order for the V2C2 goals to be achieved, a major fundraising effort would be needed. However, he said that the V2C2 goals cannot be reached only through fundraising; the following actions would also be required: increase revenue, reallocate efforts and resources, consider changes to the existing organizational structures, and develop collaborations and partnerships.

Following this presentation, Leebron asked for questions from faculty members. One faculty member stated that some countries are eager to admit the undergraduate DACA students who might have begun their education in the United States. She asked if Rice would welcome the return of these individuals as graduate students. Leebron agreed that countries such as Australia and Canada are eager to have the foreign students that the United States might not currently welcome. He also said that some foreign students may not choose to study in the United States, and he listed several factors that could influence their decision.

The second question for Leebron was regarding building projects. A faculty member noted that Rice was still not making any investments in building classrooms. Leebron replied that there will indeed be one new building on the Central Quad that will increase the number of classrooms. In addition, he said that Fondren Library could be refigured to include smaller, seminar-sized classrooms. Leebron stated that Rice must use its existing classrooms and labs more effectively through expanded schedules.

As there were no further questions, the meeting was adjourned at 3:55 p.m. A reception for faculty was held in Martel Hall immediately following the State of the University Address.

To view President Leebron's slide presentation, please see SOU. To view the Rice News article, please use this link: RICE NEWS STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY.