October 17, 2011
Dear Rice Community,
fall in recent years I have sent a note to Rice faculty, staff and students to
share some thoughts about our values. I hope these letters have helped
introduce new members of our community to the best in our Rice culture, and to
reinforce the importance of those values for those of us who are already
familiar with them. Those values guide our decisions and behaviors and
help define our sense of community. The way we treat each other and our
visitors is one of the strongest elements of our Rice identity.
prior letters, I have focused on the importance of mutual respect, tolerance
and civility in our diverse community. At last year’s town hall, and in
my matriculation remarks this year to our new students, I have begun to use a
helpful mnemonic in recalling the values that are essential to our success as a
healthy community. The mnemonic device is, simply, our name (easy to
remember!), RICE: R for responsibility, I for integrity, C for community
and E for excellence.
is something we embrace as individuals in a mission-driven academic
community. As I said in my remarks to our freshman class, we need to take
responsibility for making Rice better. We need to take responsibility for
our own happiness and success. And we need to take responsibility for our
actions and words, and understand how they may impact our friends and
colleagues. We take responsibility for our actions and even -- or
especially -- our mistakes. Taking responsibility is the precursor to our
own sense of empowerment, and the ability to make a contribution to our
community, our city and our world.
is one of the strongest threads in Rice’s fabric. In the classroom,
office, lab, field of play, in our residential colleges and in our community
engagement, we are guided by our commitment to honesty and doing what is
right. These notions gird the sense of Rice’s honor and our Honor Code.
We accept nothing less than complete academic and research integrity. Not
only our goals must reflect our values, but also the paths we choose to achieve
sense of community embodies both our collective aspirations and our obligations
toward each other. Our success as a community depends first and foremost
on our respect for each other, and how we reflect that respect in our everyday
interactions with each other. Those interactions must reflect recognition
of the great diversity of our backgrounds and perspectives. Our community
is a group of people who care about each other and support each other – a
culture of caring, our dean of undergraduates, John Hutchinson, likes to
say. In my matriculation speech, I asked the freshmen to join me in
embracing a new abbreviation for texters and tweeters: HCIH. How
can I help? And as part of our values, we extend that sense of help and
hospitality to all who come in contact with our community.
excellence. For Rice, that means that as individuals and as a university,
we are never satisfied with a good outcome or even doing our best, because we
can always strive to find ways to do better and achieve even greater
success. When I arrived at Rice for the first time more than seven years
ago, I was, like many, struck by the beauty of the campus and the quality of
the education, research and community service it produced. But I was
surrounded by people – our trustees, alumni, faculty members, students, staff –
who believed that Rice could be better. Under the aegis of the Vision for
the Second Century, we set out to do just that. By any measure, we are an
excellent university. But we cannot really be excellent unless we
constantly strive to become better.
settle in to a new school year, let us continue to do what we can as
individuals and a community to strengthen Rice's commitment to these values in
the following ways:
respect for everyone on campus, regardless of position or office. Think
about how our words might be hurtful to someone else. Avoid careless actions
that might endanger or make more work for others.
care not to discriminate against any individual because of race, color,
religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin,
ancestry, age, disability or veteran status.
part of Rice’s commitment to affirmative action, help recruit and retain those
who are underrepresented on our campus.
reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, and be ready to assist
- Avoid personal biases, preferences and preconceived stereotypes to promote a
collegial work and study environment that offers opportunity for all. Be
inclusive and reach out to others from all the diverse elements of our
- Remain alert to, and help eliminate, bad behaviors in the classroom,
residential colleges, graduate student residences and every other campus venue
so that we all can participate and perform to our fullest potential.
the privacy and dignity of others in all circumstances.
more guiding principle that is central to most institutions of higher education
is academic freedom. We invite robust debate on the issues of the day, and we
welcome people with many points of view. That means that we sometimes may
disagree strongly with one another. But our goal should be to gain a
better understanding of those issues and the differences that can divide us,
and to express those differences with civility and respect for other points of
rapidly approaching Rice’s centennial year. Let us commit ourselves every day
to the Rice spirit of responsibility, integrity, community and excellence that
has created a wonderful environment of discovery and knowledge. I am
deeply grateful for the opportunity to be part of this extraordinary university
and to serve with you in pursuit of our highest aspirations.
David W. Leebron
affirmative action policy and the Board of Trustees' resolutions supporting
cultural inclusiveness are available at http://www.professor.rice.edu/professor/policies.asp.
If you feel you have been treated in a manner contrary to these policies,
contact Russell Barnes, director of affirmative action and equal employment
opportunity programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.