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The Presidents of Rice University  

Edgar Odell Lovett: 1907-1946 Edgar Odell Lovett
The first president of Rice University (the Rice Institute) was appointed on December 28, 1907. Lovett was a professor of mathematics and chairman of the astronomy department at Princeton University prior to his appointment as president. Lovett had a B.A. from Bethany College and two Ph.D.'s, one from the University of Virginia and the other from the University of Leipzig. In May 1941 Lovett resigned officially from the presidency, but he continued to serve until February 1946 because World War II made it too difficult to recruit a new president. Lovett died August 13, 1957 at the age of 86. Lovett was appointed president in 1907. Rice University held its first classes in 1912.

 


 

William Vermillion Houston: 1947-1961 William Vermillion Houston
The second president of Rice was appointed in May 1946 and had his formal inauguration on April 10, 1947. Houston was a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology before taking the Rice presidency. He earned his B.A., B.S. and Ph.D. at Ohio State University. Houston resigned in 1961 due to poor health. He died on August 22, 1968.
 

 

 


 

Kenneth Sanborn Pitzer: 1962-1968 Kenneth Sanborn Pitzer
The third president of Rice was appointed July 1961 and formally inaugurated on October 10, 1962 as part of the university's Semicentennial Celebration. Pitzer was a professor of chemistry and Dean of the College of Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley before he accepted the presidency at Rice. He earned his B.S. at California Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. Pitzer resigned in 1968 to become president of Stanford University. He held that position for less than two years before returning to teach chemistry at Berkeley. He died December 26, 1997.

 


 

Norman Hackerman: 1971-1985 Norman Hackerman
The official fourth president of Rice, Norman Hackerman was appointed in April 1970 and formally inaugurated on September 24, 1971. After Pitzer's resignation, the Board of Governors had appointed William Masterson to succeed Pitzer but the decision created a controversy on campus and Masterson resigned after a few days. Frank Vandiver was appointed acting president until a search committee consisting of Board members, faculty, and student representatives chose Hackerman as the new president. Hackerman was a professor of chemistry and the president of University of Texas at Austin before accepting the presidency at Rice. He earned his A.B. and Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. Hackerman retired from Rice in June 1985.

 


 

George Erik Rupp: 1985-1993 George Erik Rupp
The fifth president of Rice took office July 1, 1985 and was formally inaugurated on October 25, 1985. Rupp was the Lord O'Brian Professory of Divinity and Dean of the Divinity School at Harvard University before accepting the Rice presidency. He earned his A.B. at Princeton University, his B.D. at Yale University and his Ph.D. at Harvard University. Rupp resigned in June 1993 to become president of Columbia University.

 

 


 

S. Malcolm Gillis: 1993-2004 S. Malcolm Gillis
The sixth president of Rice took office July 1, 1993 and was formally inaugurated on October 30, 1993. Gillis was Z. Smith Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Institute of Public Policy and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Duke University before accepting the Rice presidency. He earned his B.A. and M.A. at the University of Florida and his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. Gillis stepped down in 2004, and resumed his teaching career.