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President Leebron

Dear Rice Alumni

Happy New Year! It is finally 2012, the year of Rice's centennial. It is also the lunar year of the dragon, which is traditionally a symbol of good fortune, and I for one feel fortunate to be here at Rice as we celebrate a century of achievement.

One of the first things that greeted us in the new year was the appearance of 100 historical centennial banners on lampposts around the campus. In chronological order from William Marsh Rice's original gift in 1891 to Richard Tapia's National Medal of Science in 2011, the banners celebrate major events, milestones and some of the unique features that have played a role in creating the Rice of today. You can find a list of the banners and a map at http://professor.rice.edu/uploadedFiles/CentennialBannersMap.pdf. And if your favorite historical event or milestone isn't there, don't fret. We are inviting members of the Rice community to submit suggestions for additional banners. We'll pick the best and add another 20 or so centennial banners to those already on campus. Send your suggestions to Jeff Cox in Public Affairs at jeffcox@rice.edu.

Of course, all of this is leading up to our Centennial Celebration Oct. 10–14. Save the date! There will be speakers, concerts, a special homecoming game and many other events to celebrate 100 years of Rice history. Visit http://www.centennial.rice.edu for more information. We are also holding an international Centennial Celebration June 8–10 in Istanbul. If you have ever wanted to visit, or revisit, this amazing city, this would be the time. The Istanbul gathering willbe an exciting chance to bring together alumni from all over the world to share their Rice experiences, to celebrate the centennial, to hear lectures and to tour one of the most historic cities in the world.

While the big Centennial Celebration will be in October, the campus will continue to celebrate milestones along the way. Coming up is the UnConvention, a play on our Unconventional Wisdom motto, which will feature several days of events from April 11 to 15 that involve every part of our campus. We'll even be taking over the Rice metro station and wrapping four trains with our centennial logo. This is Rice's open house for the Houston community, and we hope those of you in Houston will take advantage of it. For more information about the many opportunities to participate, go to http://www.rice.edu/unconvention.

It has been awhile since I have written, so there is a lot to catch up on. (In the future, I am hoping to write shorter, but somewhat more frequent, letters.) Last September, we welcomed 1,000 freshmen to Rice, 50 more than the 950 we had planned for the goal set forth in our Vision for the Second Century (V2C). Thanks to some great work by faculty and staff, we were able to accommodate our students in the residential colleges and classrooms with only a few hiccups. Although the higher than expected enrollment posed challenges, the good news is it resulted from an increase in the yield from our accepted students, and that increase was particularly noteworthy among students from outside of Texas, among Hispanic students and among students interested in the social sciences. And although the number of applications we have received for next fall set a record at about 15,100, nearly double seven years ago, we will hold the 2012 incoming class to 935 students to balance things out and then gradually return to our target of 950 freshmen each fall. Of course, that is quite an expansion from the 59 students who showed up at the matriculation in the Founders Room in 1912!

Much needed to be accomplished to prepare for the opening of Rice, and exactly 100 years ago President Edgar Odell Lovett was in Europe recruiting new faculty. The recruitment and retention of faculty is perhaps the most important activity undertaken by an outstanding research university, and that remains as true today as it was for President Lovett — although the university president plays less of a direct role now. Thus, in addition to our students, we were pleased to welcome stellar new faculty this past fall, most notably three extraordinary scientists we recruited last spring from the University of California at San Diego. They are taking up residence in the BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC), which played a key role in attracting them to Rice because of its outstanding research space and the opportunity to do collaborative research with colleagues in the Texas Medical Center.