Issue No. 26—Winter 2019
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A Message From Dean Gorman

Dear Rice Parents and Families:

The holidays are here again, and we are looking toward the close of another fall semester on campus. It is a busy time for us at Rice. Students are knee-deep in term papers and projects, and events and celebrations are happening day and night across the campus — from invited lectures, to Dhamaka (Rice’s South Asian Society annual showcase of South Asian culture), to women’s volleyball playing for the Conference USA Championship in Tudor Fieldhouse. Our campus remains an active environment filled with opportunities for learning as well as celebration.

As you know, a signature aspect of the Rice experience for undergraduates is our residential college system, which is a central location for both learning and celebration. Crafted to provide a residential experience that serves as a hub for academic, social, cultural and co-curricular activities, the colleges remain vibrant communities for our undergraduate students. Established in 1957, the residential college system started as five colleges; today, we have 11 colleges, each with their own government structure, traditions and activities organized by students for the benefit of the broader college community.

Last month, we celebrated 10-year anniversaries for our two newest residential colleges: McMurtry and Duncan. Some of you who were on campus for Rice Homecoming & Reunion may have attended their anniversary celebrations, held one day apart in their respective college commons. Organized by students, they were the same and different — just as they should be! McMurtry kicked off their McScottish-themed party with bagpipes and singing “The Murt Song.” (The song was penned by the founding Magister of McMurtry College, Karim Al-Zand, who is also professor of Composition and Theory at The Shepherd School of Music, making his tenure as magister especially well-timed). It also included a seated dinner, Scottish line dancing, and the Wicker Man ceremony in the quad (members of the college attach sticky notes with wishes to come true when the Wicker Man is torched in a specially prepared fire pit). The following evening, Duncan College held their “DuncTen” anniversary, featuring a jazz band, high top tables and fancy snacks. Both events at McMurtry and Duncan also included heartfelt speeches chronicling the founding of the colleges and their growth over the last 10 years into the engaging communities that they are today.

Duncan and McMurtry College are now seamlessly intertwined in the fabric of the Rice community. They serve as spaces for engaged residential education, where opportunities for problem solving, group work and project development, conflict resolution, and the development and growth of community values happen on a continual basis. These environments are enhanced by the presence of our core teams, led by the college magisters. Their residence on campus facilitates their ability to be active in the college community and to serve as points of contact for students seeking advice, guidance, connection to resources and friendship. Each magister serves a five-year term, and so while the colleges are in a celebratory year around their 10th anniversaries, it is bittersweet as Duncan will be saying goodbye to Caleb and Brandy McDaniel, and McMurtry to Margaret Beier and Chris Stickney, at the end of next semester. They have been outstanding magisters to their colleges, and we will miss interacting with them in these roles.

The process of selecting new magisters is a critical task, and it started in August. Each college assembled a selection committee, composed primarily of students from the college. Their involvement in the selection process is important as students are well positioned to evaluate the qualities and characteristics of magister candidates and to make recommendations to me on these qualities. Their involvement also helps establish a good working relationship with newly appointed college magisters due to the high level of interaction between magister candidates and students during the interview process. I am pleased to announce that Jenifer Bratter, professor of sociology, and her husband Noe Perez are the incoming magisters of McMurtry College, and Eden King, associate professor of psychological sciences, and her husband Winston Liaw are the incoming magisters of Duncan college. Each will begin their duties next summer, allowing the spring semester to provide the time needed to facilitate a smooth transition. I am excited for each to begin their terms and to see how they will engage with our students in the years ahead.

And so, as Duncan and McMurtry enter their second decade and look toward new leadership, it is a reminder that, despite the constant change in our collegiate community, we remain a strong and positive place due to the good work of our students, faculty and staff. I am continually grateful to be in their presence and look forward to the new year and the adventure ahead.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season,

Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates