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Investments in and Integration of our Professional Schools


  • We must continue to invest in our professional schools in architecture, management, and music, as well as the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and seek ways to integrate their success into the broader university. We must also seize opportunities for bold new endeavors when they arise, but we should not fund new schools out of the general resources of the university.


Professional education has an important role to play in a great university. Engineering and architecture, from the founding of Rice, have played a critical role in establishing the extraordinary reputation of our university. Two additional professional schools-music and management-were added in the 1970s. More recently, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy was established in 1993. Today, all of them make important contributions to our national reputation and international visibility. The professional schools and the Baker Institute are integral to Rice's missions of research, teaching, and the betterment of our world, and they provide us with tremendous opportunities to engage locally and globally.

One of the distinctive attributes of our engineering school is its strong integration within the university in both research and education. The integration of engineering-including cross-school collaboration with natural sciences-is so strong that the school is not thought of as a separate enterprise as it is at many other universities, but rather a part of the university's overall strength in both graduate and undergraduate education and research. Because of this historic integration, there is little here-and in other parts of this document-that does not obviously and immediately apply to the school of engineering.

The schools of architecture and music, while remaining somewhat more separate in both their structure and pursuits, have established national and international reputations at the highest levels and add immensely to the visibility of Rice. Their success serves as an example of what even comparatively small schools can achieve, and their remarkable integration of graduate and undergraduate education demonstrates clearly how each of these populations benefits from the presence of the other. What may be less obvious is the important role these schools play in the achievement of our broader strategic goals for global reach and local engagement. The success of the architecture and music schools warrants further investment in their trajectory of excellence.

For the Shepherd School of Music, the highest priorities include the funding of scholarships and the construction of an opera theater. The university should support these endeavors. As audiences on campus, across the city, and around the world have discovered, the Shepherd School's flagship orchestral program is among the finest in the country. The school aims as well to have a nationally renowned opera training program of a stature equal to the orchestral program. An essential part of this will be the construction of a viable opera theater appropriate for a world-class opera and voice training program. The school should continue its extraordinary engagement with Houston and especially its efforts to bring music experience and instruction to younger students and audiences of the city.

Professional education has an important role to play in a great university. Engineering and architecture, from the founding of Rice, have played a critical role in establishing the extraordinary reputation of our university. The architecture school's research and teaching focus on urbanism makes it a critical participant both in our efforts to contribute to Houston and in our plans to establish strength in the area of urban systems. The school is also reaching out to make connections to other urban centers around the globe, and that should be an important component of our plans for international outreach, especially in Asia and Latin America. More recently, the school has embarked on endeavors that build on the university's broader priorities-from our connection with the Texas Medical Center and other local institutions to the development of interdisciplinary research endeavors.

The Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management is emerging as a world-class business school with multiple, high-quality research programs. We must increase the integration of the Jones School with the broader Rice community through joint degree programs, greater access to courses across school boundaries, collaborative research, areas of excellence tied to key stakeholders, and joint initiatives that engage the business community, particularly in Houston. The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship is an excellent example of the integration of the Jones School with the broader Rice community, and so are the range of executive education offerings and the Action Learning Projects (ALP) that provide the expertise of MBA students to Houston's business, nonprofit, and civic organizations. Although we should not start a separate undergraduate business degree program, we should make available some of the Jones School resources to undergraduates as part of their education. The proposal to establish a business minor is a step in the right direction.

The James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy is an integral part of Rice University, having brought in faculty to conduct substantive research alongside Baker Institute Fellows, and has greatly enhanced the profile of the university nationally and internationally. Its research programs have reached across disciplinary boundaries and focused on issues of great importance to our city, the nation, and the world, including energy, health and tax policy, science and technology, conflict resolution, and border policy. In its brief history, the institute has contributed beyond measure both to the university's local engagement and national and international outreach, including its extensive efforts in public policy research and programs on both Latin America and Asia. It is already recognized as one of the leading nonpartisan policy institutes in the country and can provide a major public policy forum for programs that would complement area and global studies on campus.

Although the institute does not have a degree-granting program, its success has brought, and should continue to bring, unique opportunities for our undergraduates through the Baker Institute Student Forum and the summer internship program in Washington, D.C. In the years ahead, the university and the institute should seek to identify additional ways to allow a broader segment of undergraduates to benefit from its remarkable success and to contribute to its research programs. We should also seek to support the creation of a Fellows Program at the Baker Institute to provide training to future policy makers from around the globe.