Rice University logo

Pathbreaking Research, Unsurpassed Teaching, and Contribution to the Betterment of our World—Our Mission in the 21st Century

Rice has from its inception been dedicated to three missions: educating and preparing outstanding students for diverse careers and lives; contributing to the advancement of knowledge across a wide range of fields; and being of service to our city, our state, our nation, and our world. The Call to Conversation posed the question whether our current mission statement fully encompassed our ambitions, particularly our commitment as a research university to creating new knowledge and our obligation to train future leaders across a range of endeavors. It states: “The mission of Rice University, shaped largely by its founder and the first president, is to provide an unsurpassed undergraduate education in science, engineering, the arts, humanities, and social sciences; to produce internationally distinguished scholarship and research and excellent graduate education in carefully focused areas; to ensure that such an education remains affordable; to maintain the distinctive character of a community of learning that is relatively small in scale; and to serve the continuing educational needs of the larger community.”

Based on many conversations and after reviewing the comments on this topic submitted by all segments of our community, it has become clear that although our mission statement describes our three core missions, it does not fully reflect the goals we should now have before us.


I don’t think the current mission statement reflects our goal of creating leaders across a range of endeavors.—Faculty 

Why should undergraduate education be “unsurpassed” while graduate education is only “distinguished?”—Staff 

I believe that the statement should be modified to highlight two key goals: first, Rice should be a research university, where new ideas, new scientific knowledge, new technologies are born, and not just taught. Then, there is a need for a stronger emphasis on leadership: forming leaders should be a key role of a small, prestigious university such as Rice.—Alum 

Both undergraduate and graduate education at Rice should be 'unsurpassed' if we are to set ourselves 'no upper limit.' I too think that it is important to reflect our goal of service to the broader community. This includes not only the academic community (though that is vital), but also our city, state, nation, and world.—Undergraduate Student


A new mission statement should reflect a greater commitment to our research mission and should more forcefully state the level of ambition across all of our endeavors that characterized the vision for Rice set forth at our founding. As we embark on a new era in Rice’s evolution, it is important to be clear about our dedication to pathbreaking research, our commitment to teaching, and our contribution to the betterment of our world.The Board of Trustees has adopted this new mission statement:


“As a leading research university with a distinctive commitment to undergraduate education, Rice University aspires to pathbreaking research, unsurpassed teaching, and contribution to the betterment of our world. It seeks to fulfill this mission by cultivating a diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders across the spectrum of human endeavor.”

We must understand and pursue this mission in the context of the particular history and present strengths of Rice. Our comparative and competitive advantages as a research university lie in our relatively small size, our emphasis on undergraduate education, our identification of important but focused areas of strength, the relative ease by which we can foster interdisciplinary study, our urban location, and our commitment to supporting the diversity of our community.

The pursuit of our mission is guided by several core values. Central among these are: increasing access to both education and knowledge, fostering a commitment to excellence, promoting leadership, integrating knowledge across intellectual disciplines, creating a strong sense of community and valuing its diverse members, and contributing to the solution of local, national, and global challenges.