Issue No. 33—Fall 2021
Newsletter Home

A Message From Dean Gorman

Dear Rice Parents and Families, The life of a university never stops. Over the summer, as we anticipated and planned for the start of the fall semester, many of our incoming Owls were already on campus for pre-orientation activities.

As part of the Rice Emerging Scholars Program (RESP), a number of highly talented freshmen from under-resourced high schools came to Rice this summer for a six-week academic bridge program. The program is designed to prepare students for the rigors of Rice’s STEM curricula and introduce an array of mentorship resources. This year, students heard from celebrated astronaut and Rice alumna Shannon Walker ’87, as well as members of Rice Engineering Alumni, who continue to engage with RESP students throughout their academic careers by providing resume assistance, interview preparation and other forms of support.

In Civic Owlets, a virtual implementation of our Urban Immersion program, incoming students gathered for a week in July to explore how they can participate in civic leadership and become advocates for social justice in Houston. This year’s topics included anti-racism, labor rights, housing access, health equity and democratic inclusion. By looking beyond the hedges, students learn to build community, connecting their studies to real-world issues and preparing them for lives of impact during and after Rice.

RISE (Responsibility, Inclusion and Student Empowerment) is a new program for incoming first-generation students majoring in the humanities, developed by Dr. Alexander Byrd, Associate Professor of History and Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The first-ever RISE cohort arrived to campus for a 10-day session, learning how their studies converge with important issues in our urban setting. RISE also provided an opportunity for these students to get a sneak peak of campus life before O-Week.

Many upperclassmen also participate in our fall semester preparation. This includes O-Week Coordinators, who plan activities specific to each college’s Orientation Week, with the goal of helping new students have a fun, informative and welcoming start to their time as a Rice Owl. Coming back to campus is such a vibrant time for our community, and it is especially significant for our new students as they walk through the Sallyport and begin their journey at Rice.

Each of these important programs helps to integrate our new students into the fabric of the Rice community, where we support students as they make their way from matriculation to graduation. Our resilient students are adept at adjusting to ever-changing circumstances, and I know we will come together again to meet the challenges and celebrate the successes of another exciting semester.

Sending my best wishes to you and your family,

Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates