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Quality Enhancement Plan

Appendix I: QEP Student Newspaper Articles

The Rice Thresher, January 27, 2006  

Students will benefit from Rice's QEP  

To the editor:

The Quality Enhancement Plan appears that it will provide great opportunities to students ("Rice to foster involvement in Houston with new center," Jan. 20). There are currently many opportunities for students to do research, but they are mostly restricted to the campus. The community surrounding Rice could benefit immeasurably from the efforts of its students.

Tying this community-based research into academic courses would allow students to enhance their "real-world" skills while helping out the community and progressing toward graduation. Opportunities for academ majors are the most obvious: researching, English as a second language classes, learning how non-profits run and so on. But the type of research would not have to be limited. I envision research projects on engineering problems around Houston; they certainly do enough road construction.

I hope the QEP provides an avenue for students to benefit the community while they develop skills in class and prepare for life after Rice.

Sean McCuddenBaker sophomore  


The Rice Thresher, January 20, 2006  

Rice to foster involvement in Houston with new center  

By Ted Wieber | Thresher staff

Bringing Rice and Houston closer together will be the goal of a new center for civic engagement, to be formed at the beginning of the fall semester.

The center, which has not yet been named, will aim to facilitate research partnerships between Rice students and faculty and community organizations, and incorporate such research into the curriculum. The center will also serve as an umbrella organization for Leadership Rice and the Community Involvement Center.

The center was developed as part of Rice's re-accreditation process, which happens every 10 years and is currently underway. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires Rice to develop a plan to improve education in a measurable way. The result, called the "Quality Enhancement Plan," describes plans for the center.

Assistant to the Dean of Undergraduates Matthew Taylor (Ph.D. '92), a member of the QEP steering committee, said the center will make research opportunities more accessible to students. Instead of having to search in different departments for a research position, students will be able to come directly to the center to learn about opportunities, Taylor said.

Community Involvement Center Director Mac Griswold, also a committee member, said Rice's curriculum may also have QEP-designated courses as soon as Fall 2006. Courses will earn the designation if they contain a substantial community-based research or design project, require significant interaction with a community organization and yield a product that can be publicly presented.

"The largest responsibility of the new center for civic engagement will be to organize these curricular efforts in support of community-based research," Griswold said.

Nine classes that meet many of the requirements for QEP designation include ECON 461: Urban Economics, ARTV 327: Documentary Production and LING 419: Bilingualism, according to the QEP website, www.rice.edu/qep. The site also states that incentives will be offered to faculty who develop QEP-designated courses.

While the plan for the civic engagement center is still being developed, the center will likely be the hub for different autonomous organizations, including Leadership Rice, Natalia Ksiezyk, an assistant director for Leadership Rice, said.

"[Leadership Rice] will be affiliated with the civic engagement center, and our missions will overlap," Ksiezyk said. "The center's focus will be more research and academics, while ours will be hands-on experience. I imagine we'll do a lot of collaborating with Career Services and the Community Involvement Center."

Wiess College senior Jason Lee, the student representative to the committee, said he thinks the plan will benefit the community.

"It's sometimes easy, living within these hedges, to forget that there is a world out there that can really benefit from our energy and talents," Lee said. "One of the primary goals of the QEP is to match what we have to offer as Rice students with the opportunities available to us."

Committee Chair and Adviser to the President Maryana Iskander (Wiess '97) said the QEP follows recent initiatives - such as the Passport to Houston program started by President David Leebron in 2004 - to strengthen Rice's community ties.

Leebron also commissioned an "Engaging Houston survey," to identify the extent of Rice's involvement in Houston, Iskander said.

The results of the survey state that Rice community residents logged more than 1.3 million hours of participation in Rice-affiliated outreach programs during the 2004 academic year. Results of the survey can be found at www.rice.edu/engage.

The civic engagement center will be staffed by a half-time executive director that is also a faculty member, a full-time managing director and an Americorps volunteer, Taylor said. The hiring process for the positions will begin in the late summer or early fall, he said.