August 23, 2004
Trinity and Rice

Couple nice mentions of my alma mater and my graduate school in the papers. Here's Trinity making the grade in US News and World Report again.

For the 13th straight year, Trinity was tops among colleges and universities that offer a full range of undergraduate and select master's-level programs in the western United States.

Trinity also was No. 1 in the best-value category and for academic reputation. And its engineering science department was ranked 21st among engineering programs at schools whose highest degree is a master's.

Marc Raney, Trinity's vice-president for university advancement, attributes the school's success to quality faculty and a commitment to technology.

"Students here are able to use technology and science equipment that's generally only available at the graduate level," he said.

And here's a nice article on Dr. David Leebron, the new President of Rice University, formerly the dean at Columbia's Law School.

Rice's participation in Division I-A athletics, a sore point for many faculty members, is certain to produce a few headaches for Leebron.

A report in April by McKinsey & Co., a consulting firm, concluded that an annual deficit of $10 million in athletics was likely to worsen and that dropping football was a "viable option." The report also revealed an academic gap between athletes and nonathletes. The SAT scores of male nonathletes average 1447 out of a possible 1600, but those of male athletes average 1103. Athletes also tend to cluster in a few majors, such as kinesiology.

Although trustees decided to retain football and Division I-A status, Leebron will have to grapple with the financial and academic issues.

Another challenge will be attracting minority students. Rice has a special incentive because of its history: The school's 1891 charter said that only whites could attend.

That provision, as well as another clause that barred charging tuition, persisted until the 1960s. Blacks currently make up 6.5 percent of the student body, down from a high of 9 percent in 1995.

Broadening Rice's geographic reach is also a priority. Currently, about half of the students hail from Texas.

I'm hearing that Leebron has already caused a bit of a stir due to the unexpected retirement of a popular administrator (Dr. Camacho, for the Owls in my audience). I know precious little about this, but there are a couple of threads on Owlzone that are discussing it: see here and here for more.

Leebron initially balked at Rice's overtures. He and his wife were happy with their life in New York. Their apartment in Manhattan was a gem, with plenty of space and light and a view of the Hudson River. The children were in good schools. Leebron liked his job at Columbia. And Houston isn't exactly in the snowbelt, which meant he wouldn't get to ski as much.

But Houston turned out to be more cosmopolitan than Leebron and Sun had expected. Its Chinatown impressed them, and that's saying a lot because Sun was born in Shanghai. In the end, the opportunity to lead a prestigious university was too enticing to pass up.

Even the city's legendary heat and humidity are tolerable, Leebron said, adding: "My only complaint about Houston so far is that Houstonians apologize too much for the weather."

Heh. Tell that to these guys.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 23, 2004 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack

I wonder which Chinatown he's talking about, though, the areas around downtown or the areas out in southwest Houston?

It's all good fodder for the ttweak people, to be sure.

Posted by: kevin whited on August 23, 2004 10:28 PM

The area in downtown isn't Chinatown, it's Little Vietnam. Chinatown is definitely southwest, out where Lai Lai's is.

Leebron is coming up here to meet the alumni group in November. I'm looking forward to it. I really liked Gillis, and found myself a bit sad when he came around on his retirement tour. I hope Leebron can fill his shoes.

Posted by: Amy on August 24, 2004 9:30 AM

I'm hearing that there may be student protests about Dr. Camacho's "retirement" firing.

It's not a good start for Leebron. But after the evil Gillis, it's impossible not to have an improvement.

edit: I just reread the comments above me before I posted. Amy are you on crack? You may be the first person I've met who thought Gillis had any shred of integrity.

Posted by: Another Rice Grad on August 24, 2004 2:42 PM

There's a letter and petition going around about Camacho.

Posted by: Rice on August 26, 2004 10:12 AM