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The Magazine of Rice University

Fall 2013

S e r v i c e

A helping hand — and so much more. Almost 50 incoming students participated in Urban Immersion, Rice’s unique weeklong introduction to service learning opportunities in Houston. Also: A wild idea may help protect our coastal and urban areas against hurricane destruction, Rice’s Centennial Campaign wraps up, a new Van Gogh is discovered, and we say goodbye to a singular voice in Texas letters.

L e ss o n s

The Magazine of Rice University

Fall 2013





Service Lessons Rice students described Urban Immersion as a quick, intense, awesome, exhausting, fun and eye-opening course in volunteerism at area nonprofits.

Sallyport 5

By Kelly Windham and Rice Urban Immersion participants



One Wild Idea What’s a good strategy for preparing and protecting against future hurricanes? Rice’s severe storm experts have borrowed a bold idea from nature. By Sandy Sheehy

Campaign Finale Want to know what Rice’s recently concluded Centennial Campaign made possible? Read on. Plus, a profile of new Rice Board of Trustees Chairman Bobby Tudor ’82.

Introducing the Class of 2017, happy rankings, a quiet discussion, a very public “private” lesson and more campus news in brief.

Abstract 11 Revealed: a new Van Gogh painting; plus, a prison reform conundrum, knotty carbon fibers, sea-level rise effects, pollutant-eating bacteria and more.

President’s note




Problem-solving skills, a friendly attitude and being good with glitter all play a big part in Brown College Coordinator Nancy Henry’s day.

Arts & Letters

Street artist Gaia creates larger-thanlife portraits and murals for the Rice Gallery; plus, new books and music.

Scoreboard 46 Welcome Joe Karlgaard, Rice’s new director of athletics, recreation and lifetime fitness; plus, fall sports.

Parting Words On the cover A Rice student lends a hand to a client of the Community Family Centers in downtown Houston. Photo by Jeff Fitlow Left The Brockman Hall for Physics is one of the Centennial Campaign’s crowning achievements, which are detailed here: Photo by Tommy LaVergne


An elegy for John Graves ’42 by Bill Broyles ’66.



FEATU RED CON TR IBU TO RS Follow what’s going on throughout campus and beyond the hedges through Rice’s robust social media channels, from Google+ to Facebook. See the full list at Here are some recent staff and reader favorites from our YouTube and Instagram sites. What’s not to like? YOUTUBE



Engineering team creates robot arm for teen It was a big day for Dee Faught when a team of Rice University students gave him a helping hand. In fact, they gave him a whole arm. Faught, 17, lives with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic condition that makes his bones especially brittle. The device will enable him to perform tasks most people take for granted. The bioengineering students won Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering Design Showcase and Poster Competition last April for their R-ARM, a robotic device for Faught that fits his motorized chair. A video game controller allows Faught to manipulate the robotic arm. The students had the eager teen try a nearly finished version of the device Sept. 20 at Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston.

O-Week 2013 In Texas, barbecue is more than a food — it’s practically a religion. President David Leebron and Y. Ping Sun welcomed new students to their home Aug. 19 to have a taste of Texas. Students enjoyed food, conversation, music and dancing at the annual event, which Leebron and Sun host to get to know Rice’s newcomers. We’re wondering on whose shoulders Rice assistant photographer Jeff Fitlow perched to catch this great shot via Instagram.



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Sandy Sheehy (“One Wild Idea”) is a freelance writer and an avid novice birder living in Galveston, Texas. The author of two books, “Texas Big Rich: Exploits, Eccentricities, and Fabulous Fortunes Won and Lost” and “Connecting: The Enduring Power of Female Friendship,” Sheehy has contributed to many national and regional magazines. She is retired from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Geoff Winningham ’65 (“One Wild Idea”) is the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Humanities and professor of visual arts at Rice. He is best known for his 10 books and three documentary films relating to Texas and Mexican culture, including the awardwinning “Traveling the Shore of the Spanish Sea: The Gulf Coast of Texas and Mexico” (Texas A&M University Press, 2010). See his work at

Video producer Brandon Martin joined the Office of Public Affairs in 2011 after a seven-year stint as a special projects photojournalist for KPRC– TV in Houston. His visual reporting takes him to every part of campus — but at the beginning of each academic year, the job is all about new students. “Covering O-Week makes me feel 18 again. It’s a privilege to be able to meet so many amazing new students during what many of them say is the best week of their lives,” he said. A fringe benefit? Martin keeps his music knowledge fresh by hearing what the new students dance to all week.


The Magazine of Rice University Fall 2013 Rice Magazine is published four times a year and is sent to university alumni, faculty, staff, parents of undergraduates and friends of the university. Published by the Office of Public Affairs Linda Thrane, vice president Editor Lynn Gosnell Creative Services Jeff Cox senior director Dean Mackey senior graphic designer Jackie Limbaugh graphic designer Tracey Rhoades editorial director Jenny W. Rozelle ’00 assistant editor Tommy LaVergne university photographer Jeff Fitlow assistant university photographer Contributing Public Affairs Staff B.J. Almond, Jade Boyd, Jeff Falk, Amy Hodges, Mike Williams Interns Nneoma Elendu ’14 Leticia Treviño ’16

Our Place and Yours


s much as we love narrative and storytelling around here, we wouldn’t get very far without the scaffolding that numbers and data bring to stories about Rice’s research, student life and community outreach. In this issue, our features showcase the power of observation and empirical research to measure vastly different topics. Through a program called Urban Immersion, incoming Rice students learn there’s no better way to study Houston’s significant human needs than to volunteer at the nonprofit agencies addressing those needs daily. Organized by Rice’s Community Involvement Center, the summer program brings a total of 48 students face to face with a city “whose identity is swathed in layers of success and strife,” as Kelly Windham, assistant director, explains in a thoughtful introduction. We sent staff photographer Jeff Fitlow to document a way of doing service that is, Windham writes, “a mutually beneficial and rewarding experience.” The students’ own journals help tell the story. “At a lot of places, we went behind the scenes — that changed my perspective of places that are making Houston a better city,” one student wrote. Freelance writer Sandy Sheehy nudges readers a little farther to the east, toward her home — Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula, where Hurricane Ike made landfall five years ago. A key number in the story “One Wild Idea” is $27 billion — the amount of damage caused by a storm that people around here are in no danger of forgetting. The article details a bold and creative strategy, as developed by Rice’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center, for mitigating hurricane surge damage by creating something called a “national recreation area.” We wrap up Rice’s successful Centennial Campaign with a series of stories and an opening infographic that details the campaign’s extraordinary accomplishments. While the numbers are impressive — the $106 million amount raised for endowed scholarships, for example — the story of fundraising always lies in the human impact. Here we feature students and faculty whose research and knowledge are already benefiting greatly from the campaign’s many successes to date. With these stories, we honor the Rice community’s generosity, a generosity that extends our place in the world. —Lynn Gosnell

Photo: Jeff Fitlow

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L E T T E R S POLI CY We want to hear from you. Please send us your note, letter or email, which we will edit for clarity and space considerations. If your letter or note elicits further responses from our readership, we may print those, too. After that, dear readers, you’ll have to take it outside.

Ballpark Correction I very much enjoyed the last issue of Rice Magazine and found myself reading almost every article. It’s been my favorite issue in quite some time. I have a small correction to make. I was looking at the fish-eye photo on Page 47 from PK Park. It’s the correct park, but the game attribution was incorrect. The caption says that the picture was from the 11–4 regional win. In fact, the picture was taken at the 1–0 win Saturday, June 1. It was the first win against the Oregon Ducks and an absolute nail-biter. We had a group of alumni from Portland there for the game, and I recognized several people who were there for that one game, and they’re in the picture. It was fun getting out the magnifying glass to be sure it was that game. Thanks for including it in the magazine! —Karen Chen King ’83

Hard Truths I just finished reading Miah Arnold’s and Jim Goldberg’s article titled “The Hard Truths of Human Trafficking.” It was a challenging, meaningful story, and I appreciate your work on bringing it to life. Thank you for doing a great job with Rice Magazine. —Scott Daniel Sullivan ’87

Rice University Board of Trustees Robert B. Tudor III, chairman; Edward B. “Teddy” Adams Jr.; J.D. Bucky Allshouse; Keith T. Anderson; Doyle Arnold; Laura Arnold; Albert Chao; T. Jay Collins; Mark Dankberg; Lynn Laverty Elsenhans; Doug Foshee; Lawrence Guffey; Ben Hollingsworth Jr.; John Jaggers; Larry Kellner; R. Ralph Parks; Lee H. Rosenthal; Jeffery Smisek; Charles Szalkowski; Robert M. Taylor Jr.; Guillermo “Memo” Treviño; James S. Turley; Randa Duncan Williams. Administrative Officers David W. Leebron, president; George McLendon, provost; Kathy Collins, vice president for Finance; Kevin Kirby, vice president for Administration; Chris Muñoz, vice president for Enrollment; Allison Kendrick Thacker, vice president for Investments and treasurer; Linda Thrane, vice president for Public Affairs; Richard A. Zansitis, vice president and general counsel; Darrow Zeidenstein, vice president for Resource Development. Editorial Offices Rice University Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892 Postmaster Send address changes to: Rice University Development Services–MS 80 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892 ©October 2013 Rice University

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News and Update s from Campus

H Photo: Jeff Fitlow

ow do you cap off a landmark day of emotional goodbyes and innumerable hellos? Rice’s newest students were treated to a matriculation ceremony to remember. After

gathering in Tudor Fieldhouse for formal welcomes by Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, President David Leebron, Student Association President Yoonjin Min ’14 and Association of Rice Alumni President Scott Wise ’71, the students processed along the candlelit Inner Loop toward the Sallyport. As each group of students marched through with their residential college, the waiting crowd of upperclassmen erupted in screams and cheers, while fireworks exploded above the quad.

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CLASS OF 20 1 7

977 2% 17% 46% 40% students

more applications in 2013 than 2012

acceptance rate

call Texas home

from other states State with the most enrollees after Texas: California (71) State with the third-most enrollees after Texas: Florida (28) Georgia, New York and Illinois each enrolled 20 students Largest state/fewest freshmen: Montana (1)

Rice ranks No. 1 for best quality of life and No. 2 for happiest students, according to an annual Princeton Review survey. The rankings are included in “The Best 378 Colleges: 2014 Edition,” published in August. For the past few years, Rice has ranked first or second in these two categories. The Princeton Review surveyed 126,000 students about their schools’ academics and administration, life at their college, their fellow students and themselves. This year’s edition includes rankings for the top 20 colleges in 62 colorful categories. These categories range from the straightforward (“Great Financial Aid,” “Best Career Services” and “Best Science

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Lab Facilities”) to the silly (“Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians,” “Is It Food?” and “Is That a Dorm?”). In addition to being singled out for best quality of life and happiest students, Rice is No. 3 for best-run colleges, No. 5 for great financial aid, No. 6 for “their students love these colleges,” No. 10 for lots of race/class interaction and also for best health services, No. 12 for best athletic facilities and No. 17 for great towngown relations. In the open-ended questions, one student wrote, “Regardless of your interest and no matter how nerdy it might be now, you’ll definitely find someone else who shares your passion.” —B.J. Almond Read more at

14% international

China: 87 South Korea: 20 Canada: 6 India: 5 Singapore: 4 Australia: 3 Indonesia, Turkey, Nigeria, Germany, Norway, Finland, Myanmar, New Zealand: 1 each

48% female

Photo: Jeff Fitlow


mental engineering, served as adviser for the Commencement Speaker Committee. The students sought and found “an entertaining and energetic speaker, someone whose accomplishments are both impressive and inspirational and an individual who reflects the diversity of the Rice community,” Griffin said. —B.J. Almond

Calling all Owls: Fly home. Rice Homecoming & Reunion 2013 is Nov. 14–17. Alumni can enjoy all kinds of special activities, including public art exhibitions, music recitals, theatrical performances, educational talks, special receptions, MOB Day, campus tours (including the newly renovated Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen) and so much more. The football game pits Rice against Louisiana Tech. Special registration required for some events. See the complete schedule and sign up here:

she spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she worked primarily on HIV/AIDS, and then at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she directed programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues. She is one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women,” Foreign Policy magazine’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” and Newsweek’s top 10 “Women in Leadership.” Born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., Gayle also has a B.A. in psychology from Barnard College. Rob Griffin, professor of civil and environ-

Enough with matriculation. Let’s talk commencement. The speaker for Rice’s 101st commencement will be Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA. CARE’s mission is to serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world. Gayle has led the organization since 2006, and last year CARE’s programs reached 122 million people in 84 countries. Gayle, who has an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins University, is an expert on health, global development and humanitarian issues. Before joining CARE, Photos: Jeff Fitlow, CARE USA

Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA

“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain, was the selection for this year’s Common Reading Program at Rice, and according to Director of First Year Programs Shelah Crear, the focus on the differences between introverts and extroverts made it a great choice. “‘Quiet’ was the perfect book to introduce new students to the rigor of intellectual discussions at Rice because of Cain’s provocative take on a topic that is both familiar and relevant to the new student experience,” Crear said. “The Common Reading selection committee felt that ‘Quiet’ would illicit passionate conversations while also teaching students how to listen and learn from peers whose perspectives differ from their own.” According to Cain, many of the great contributions of society were made by introverts — people like Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss and Steve Wozniak. However, Cain argues that society dramatically undervalues introverts and shows how much is lost in doing so. In hourlong small-group sessions around campus during O-Week, students discussed the book with their classmates. Michael Kidd, a Lovett College freshman, said that he believes the Common Reading Program is a great way to get new students immersed in Rice. “It gives us a topic to discuss with each other on a general level, no matter who we are or where we come from,” he said. Katherine Tees, another Lovett College freshFa l l 2 0 1 3 · R i c e M a g a z i n e  


man, said the book taught her more about her own personality. “I learned a lot about myself and began to understand my counterparts in the spectrum,” she said. “I think a lot of times the key to working with people and getting the most success is understanding where they’re coming from.” In its eighth year, Rice’s Common Reading Program was established to welcome students to the university’s intellectual community, stimulate conversations across the campus community on pressing issues of the day and introduce new students to the critical inquiry, scholarship and civility they will encounter — and learn to practice — at Rice. The Office of the Dean of Undergraduates sponsors the program. —Amy Hodges

A new Facebook page called “Humans of Rice University” was launched in September. The page features portraits (some candid, some posed) of Rice students along with quoted answers to a question posed by the photographer. The resulting vignettes present a fresh view of Rice’s diverse student body that is more story-driven and introspective than achievement-oriented. The to-date anonymous group of photographers behind the project aim to depict these “diverse characters and unique points of view,” they write. The concept is inspired by “Humans of New York,” an online project created by photographer Brandon Stanton to “construct a photographic census of New York City.” Since 2010, “Humans of New York” has garnered more than 1 million followers on Facebook and Tumblr and has spawned many similar sites in cities and communities around the world. Check out “Humans of Rice University” at

NASA engineer Mark Jernigan has been appointed executive director of the Rice Space Institute (RSI) for the next year under the space agency’s Executive on Loan program. Jernigan takes over for astronaut Mike Massimino (@astromike), who held the position until May. Jernigan will work with RSI Director David Alexander, a professor of physics and astronomy, to look for opportunities for Rice students and faculty to collaborate with NASA scientists and engineers. “My function here is to be a catalyst to get researchers at Rice interested in problems at Johnson Space Center (JSC) and also to avail JSC subject matter experts of the breakthrough Mark Jernigan projects that are being researched here,” said Jernigan, who most recently served as human health and performance associate director for human exploration systems development support at NASA. —Mike Williams

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Corey Palermo ’16, from “Humans of Rice University”

Rice + online textbooks = $tudent $avings. Rice’s nonprofit textbook publisher, OpenStax College, reports that nearly 300 educational institutions on four continents will use OpenStax textbooks this school year. “Our adoptions have almost doubled in the past four months, and we estimate we’ll save about 40,000 students more than $3.7 million in the coming school year,” said Richard Baraniuk, founding director and the Victor E. Cameron Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. OpenStax College provides free, peer-reviewed textbooks. Its growing catalog includes titles for five of the most-attended introductory college courses — physics, sociology, anatomy, physiology, and both majors and nonmajors biology. OpenStax Colleges’ free books have been accessed online by more than 1.7 million people and downloaded more than 170,000 times since June 2012. OpenStax College’s sixth title, Introductory Statistics, will debut in October, and many more textbooks will be added by 2015. OpenStax College launched in February 2012 with a venture philanthropic model to offer free, high-quality, peer-reviewed, full-color textbooks for the 25 most heavily attended college courses in the nation. Its books are free online for everyone. —Jade Boyd Read more at

Photos: Tommy LaVergne, “Humans of Rice University”


“I didn’t think she would be so laid back. She was very understanding, soft-spoken even.” Chabrelle Williams

The good news: One of the world’s most famous classical singers will give you a private voice lesson. Caveat: Hundreds of people will be watching and listening. A select group of voice and opera students from the Shepherd School of Music were invited to take part in a master class with acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming in September. The students, Mark Diamond (baritone), Chabrelle Williams (soprano), Allegra De Vita (mezzo-soprano) and Rafael Moras (tenor), auditioned for the annual Aleko Endowed Master Class in Voice at Stude Concert Hall. We caught up with Williams, a graduate student enrolled in the new Artist Diploma in Music program, who performed “Ach, ich liebte, war so glücklich” from Mozart’s “Die Entführung aus dem Serail.” “I picked this piece because it shows off my voice,” Williams said, “and it feels really good to sing.” Williams described the aria as in the high range and a difficult piece, but one that suited her voice’s characteristics well. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Williams has lots of stage experience and has participated in other master classes, so she wasn’t too nervous. “You treat it as a performance,” she said. On stage, Fleming provided feedback and direction, encouraging Williams to make sure her voice “blooms at the top.” Williams translates that as a less technical message to relax and “let my voice do what it wants to do.” Williams came away with a very un-diva-like impression of the famous singer, who last summer was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama. “I didn’t think she would be so laid back. She was very understanding, soft-spoken even,” said Williams. This fall, Williams and fellow Shepherd School opera students will perform Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” Nov. 1, 3 and 5. For tickets, call 713-348-8000. —Lynn Gosnell

Photos: Jeff Fitlow

Master class students with Renée Fleming

Master’s student Mark Diamond was accompanied by Thomas Jaber, director of choral ensembles and professor of music. Fa l l 2 0 1 3 · R i c e M a g a z i n e  




The science we will get back from Voyager will change what we know about the universe, simply because we know so little beyond our solar system. We haven’t been there before. David Alexander, director of the Rice Space Institute and professor of physics and astronomy, speaking on ABC News Radio Sept. 12, 2013, about Voyager 1 space probe’s exiting the solar system.

One of the things I’m excited about is that he’ll be able to pick up his laundry off the floor. Stacy Faught, mother of Dee Faught, 17, who recently received a robotic arm to help him live more independently. Dee has brittle bone disease. Read the full story here:

Abandon all defensiveness, because it’s your worst enemy. Cindy Farach-Carson, the Ralph and Dorothy Looney Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and vice provost for translational bioscience, quoted in the “Turning Points” publication series, a project of the Gateway Study of Leadership program in the School of Social Sciences. Farach-Carson’s interview, titled “Life is Long,” can be read here:

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“In some locales — California community colleges, for example — the cost of textbooks now exceeds the cost of tuition. No wonder a recent survey found that 70 percent of college students forgo buying texts, even though 78 percent of those students believe they will perform worse in the course.” Richard Baraniuk, the Victor E. Cameron Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the founder of Rice’s Connexions and OpenStax College, testifying about college affordability at the U.S. House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training hearing, Sept. 18, 2013.

“I would like to do graphic design or typesetting or something like that. I’m a complete font-nerd. ... I would love to design fonts. I don’t know how to, but I would love to do that. I don’t know if that tells you anything about how I compose or how my brain works.” Karim Al-Zand, associate professor of composition and theory in the Shepherd School of Music, quoted in the Houston Press. Al-Zand was named one of the “100 Creatives 2013” by the paper.

“If the games are on television. you see the excitement, you see the players, you start to feel that you know the players, and that’s when people will start attending games.” Clark Haptonstall, professor in the practice and chair of the Department of Sport Management, commenting on the Astros’ television contract and its impact on the fan base in a WBUR-FM story, Sept. 28, 2013.



Computer Scientist Helps ID Lost Van Gogh A Rice professor’s super sleuthing made the connection between a painting once thought to be a fake Vincent Van Gogh and a real — and already famous — Van Gogh at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH).

“Sunset at Montmajour,” 1888 Vincent Van Gogh (1853–1890) Private collection

Don Johnson, the J.S. Abercrombie Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering and professor of statistics, performed statistical analysis of X-ray images of the canvas behind the previously unknown “Sunset at Montmajour.” His research aided experts at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in authenticating the painting. “I pointed out the very close, but not exact, relationship of this painting to the only Van Gogh in the MFAH,” Johnson said. “Apparently, this pointed them in the direction of examining the Houston painting for a more detailed comparison.” The painting’s canvas was a match for “The Rocks,” owned by the MFAH. Johnson completed his work for the Van Gogh Museum more than a year ago, and he

Findings, Research and more

filed a report on his findings. The museum followed up by sending forensic investigators to Houston for a close look at “The Rocks” to see what other characteristics were in alignment. The museum unveiled its findings, along with the painting itself, at the Amsterdam museum Sept. 9. While media reports did not mention Johnson or Rice — they only made a general mention of the museum’s investigative techniques — those who know Johnson recognized his work. Johnson said he and a collaborator at the University of Arizona are the sole researchers performing forensic investigations of canvas that can be seen in detail only through X-rays. “When the masters prepared a canvas for painting, they would cut it from the roll, attach it to a stretcher and paint their work. For such Fa l l 2 0 1 3 · R i c e M a g a z i n e  


a famous artist as Van Gogh, conservators would glue on a backing canvas to preserve the original. Consequently, we can’t simply take it out of the frame and have a look at the original canvas,” he said. Johnson uses a signal-processing algorithm that automatically analyzes the thread density in X-rayed canvases to reveal previously unavailable details about the materials of the masters. The process creates what amounts to a canvas “fingerprint.” The software lets Johnson see how loose or tight a canvas is woven. That lets him create a map of the weave that can be compared to see how paintings may be related. While the canvas patterns revealed for “Sunset at Montmajour” and “The Rocks” don’t line up perfectly, they are without doubt from the same bolt of fabric, Johnson said. The unsigned “Montmajour” is privately owned and from what the Van Gogh Museum considers to be the artist’s most productive period, during his time in Arles in 1888 and before his grip on sanity began to slip. (He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1890.) A complete look at the painting and its history is the subject of a cover story by officials at the Van Gogh Museum in the October issue of the respected art publication, The Burlington Magazine. Museum officials said the painting was left to Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, upon Vincent’s

death. Theo’s widow sold it to a Paris art dealer who subsequently sold it to a Norwegian collector in 1908. Declared fake, “Montmajour” was banished to an attic until 1970. The current owners brought it to the Van Gogh Museum in 1991, and at that time the museum’s experts doubted its authenticity — a decision they now describe as “a painful admission.” But when the family returned two years ago, the museum decided to make use of new technology to have another look. —Mike Williams Read more about Johnson’s forensic work at CHEMISTRY

New Lead on Breast Cancer Prevention and Treatment

When researchers were looking at the effects of a diabetes drug on women, they noticed that these women had lower than expected rates of breast cancer. The discovery may offer a path to therapies that could slow or stop tumors from developing. An international consortium of researchers from Rice, the University of North Texas, the University of California at San Diego and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported the finding in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists found that reducing the expression of a pair of proteins known as

Rice’s Center for Theoretical Biological Physics coordinated research that identified two proteins as prime suspects in the proliferation of breast cancer.

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NEETs — NAF-1 and mitoNEET — significantly reduced cancer cell proliferation and breast cancer tumor size. These two proteins have been identified as prime suspects in the proliferation of breast cancer by the Rice-led research project. José Onuchic, co-director of the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics as well as Rice’s Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Chair of Physics and professor of physics and astronomy, said the new study was triggered by the team’s recognition of a connection between NEETs and reduced rates of breast cancer among women who take a diabetes drug that targets mitoNEET. —Mike Williams Read the Rice News story at ricemagazine. info/168. ECONOMICS

Prison Reform’s Unintended Consequences

The burden of improved conditions in state prisons may be borne by welfare recipients, according to new research from Rice University and Louisiana State University. The study examined the impact of federal court orders condemning prison crowding and the outcomes among states following these orders. The researchers found that court-mandated efforts by the federal government to improve living conditions in state prisons resulted in decreased welfare funding. “When courts are effective in increasing spending on prisoners, the legislature has to increase taxes or cut spending in other programs, given states’ balanced budget requirements,” said Richard Boylan, professor of economics at Rice. “As a result, most of these increases in spending come at the expense of welfare spending or other social programs.” States that ultimately were court ordered to improve living conditions saw lower inmate mortality rates (20 percent decrease), fewer prisoners per capita (12 percent decrease) and all-around better prison living conditions. The study’s results also show that these court orders resulted in a 22 percent decrease in the amount of money available for state welfare programs. “These results are a classic example of the unintended consequences of well-intentioned policymaking in the face of limited resources, where helping one vulnerable population ends up harming another,” Boylan said. He


times larger,” said Rice graduate student Changsheng Xiang, lead author of the new paper. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Professor of Chemistry as well as a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science at Rice. —Mike Williams Read the Rice News story at ricemagazine. info/169. OCEANOGRAPHY, CLIMATE CHANGE Prison reform has had a negative impact on the welfare system. noted that their research showed that after states are released from the court orders, they did not increase their welfare cash expenditures; thus, the original change in welfare spending was permanent. —Amy Hodges NANOTECHNOLOGY

Improving Carbon Fiber

Large flakes of graphene oxide are the essential ingredient in a new recipe for robust carbon fibers created here at Rice. The spun fibers are unique for the strength of their knots. Under tension, most fibers are likely to snap at the knot, but the new fibers demonstrate what the researchers refer to as “100 percent knot efficiency” — the fibers are as likely to break anywhere along their length as at the knot. The new work from the Rice lab of chemist James Tour was published last summer in the journal Advanced Materials. The material could be used to increase the strength of many products that use carbon fiber, like composites for strong, light aircraft or fabrics for bulletproof apparel, according to the researchers. “To see this is very strange,” Tour said. “The knot is as strong as any other part of the fiber. That never happens in a carbon fiber or polymer fibers.” Credit goes to the unique properties of graphene oxide flakes created in an environmentally friendly process patented by Rice a few years ago. The flakes that are chemically extracted from graphite seem small. They have an average diameter of 22 microns, a quarter the width of an average human hair. But they’re massive compared with the petroleum-based pitch used in current carbon fiber. “The pitch particles are two nanometers in size, which makes our flakes about 10,000

Adapting to Rising Sea Level and Other Effects of Climate Change

Global sea level is rising at an accelerated rate in response to climate change, and to ensure a sustainable future, society must anticipate and adapt to a rapidly evolving coastal system, according to a new article from the international coastal research community. The research was published in August in GSA Today, the monthly magazine of the Geological Society of America (GSA). The article summarized key takeaways from the Joint Penrose/Chapman Conference hosted last spring by Rice’s Shell Center for Sustainability, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of London, the Society for Sedimentary Research and the GSA. “Coastal change is not a prediction — it is very real and in many parts of the world it is occurring at alarming rates,” said John Anderson, Rice’s W. Maurice Ewing Professor of Oceanography, professor of earth science, director of the Shell Center and the article’s author. “Given the inherent uncertainty of future coastal evolution, we strongly believe that future policies should be based on the best available science, including analysis of our

Researchers hope their recommendations will influence future planning for severe storms and the evolution of coastlines worldwide.

coastal areas, geohazard maps and other accessible information systems that can be understood and used by planners to predict change, and management approaches to minimize costs and social and ecosystem impacts.” Key points from the report include: • Current rates of sea-level rise in many regions are unprecedented relative to rates of the last several thousand years, and scientific projections show that rates will continue to increase over this century and alter the coasts. • Sea-level rise will exacerbate the impacts of extreme events, such as hurricanes and storms, over the long term. • Increasing human activity, such as land-use change and water-management practices, adds stress to already fragile ecosystems and can affect coasts just as much as sea-level rise. Anderson and his fellow researchers hope their recommendations will influence future policy decisions regarding planning for severe storms and the evolution of coastlines around the world. —Amy Hodges The GSA Today issue is available at CHEMISTRY

Pollutant-eating Bacteria

Dioxane, a chemical used to stabilize industrial solvents, has an enemy in naturally occurring bacteria that turn the pollutant into harmless water and carbon dioxide. Rice researchers, who are designing tools to help environmental engineers determine the best way to clean up a contaminated site, have found that beneficial bacteria are more abundant at spill sites than once thought. A Rice-led team discovered soluble di-iron mono-oxygenase (SDIMO) genes in bacteria thriving in contaminated Alaskan groundwater. The genes produce enzymes that degrade dioxane — specifically, a common form known as 1,4-Dioxane — into harmless substances. The work may lead to the creation of biomarker-based forensic tools to detect SDIMO-carrying bacteria at dioxane-polluted sites, according to Pedro Alvarez, the George R. Brown Professor and chair of the DepartFa l l 2 0 1 3 · R i c e M a g a z i n e  


Rice researchers are designing tools to help environmental engineers determine the best way to clean up a contaminated site. ment of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dioxane can get into the ground in accidental spills of 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA). Dioxane is used to stabilize TCA, an industrial solvent, and often serves as a solvent itself. A study by Alvarez and colleagues, including lead author and Rice graduate student Mengyan Li, was published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology. “This contaminant has been flying under the radar,” said Alvarez, who also serves on the Environmental Protection Agency’s science advisory board. “It is a suspected carcinogen, but for a contaminant to be important or of emerging concern, it has to pose a threat to a large number of people or impact large areas.” He said it was once assumed dioxane would not biodegrade, but the recent discovery of dioxane-eating bacteria prompted a new look. “The common wisdom has been that these bacteria are very rare,” Alvarez said. “So people focused on physical and chemical treatment processes that are expensive and marginally effective, especially to treat very large, dilute plumes.” One such plume exists on Alaska’s oil-producing North Slope. With the support of BP America, the researchers studied samples from various points and depths in the plume to look for SDIMO genes. Li decoded genes from bacteria in the samples and found

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SDIMO-carrying bacteria to be most prevalent near the spill source, less so toward the edges. In tests on the samples, Li also found that the bacteria stopped degrading dioxane after about 15 days, but adding sodium acetate rebooted the process of turning the pollutant into harmless water and carbon dioxide. If dioxane-eating bacteria can thrive in the harsh Alaskan environment, they’re likely to be found in great abundance in more tropical climates, Alvarez said. The researchers are testing their theory at four such sites. “This genetic biomarker lets us know with a great degree of certainty that these microbes are present,” he said. “If you have more workers, the job gets done faster.” Read the Rice News story at ricemagazine. info/171.

work of 15th–century Spanish painter Pedro de Palma. Hand-drawn on a large vellum sheet and beautifully illustrated, the manuscript had been donated to Rice in 1949 by New York City bookseller and antiquarian Paul Gottschalk and is housed in the library’s Woodson Research Center as part of the Illuminated Sacred Music Manuscript Collection. Palermo said a good amount of information was already available before she put the final piece together. For example, it was known that the manuscript (also called a folio) dated back to 1500 in Spain and was part of a choir book. The folio’s music and words (Psalm 66:4) were chanted during the introit, the initial chant of the Catholic Mass on the second Sunday after Epiphany. After perusing a wide range of sources, Palermo, who has an interest in religious iconography, had a eureka moment. “I actually ordered through interlibrary loan a book on Pedro de Palma, and when I looked at it I saw the uncanny resemblance between the Rice folio, the figure of the male (prophet) and the other images in this book,” Palermo said. “I made the connection that it’s Pedro de Palma.” Her de Palma attribution was confirmed in a recent article by Rosario Marchena Hidalgo, a professor at the University of Seville and expert on de Palma. —Jeff Falk Watch the video at


Music Manuscript Identified

When Melisa Palermo, a Rice University art history Ph.D. student, entered the university’s Fondren Library more than three years ago to study a 500-year-old music manuscript, little did she know her research would lead to an important discovery. Using an art historian’s keen eye and analytical skills, Palermo was able to identify the previously unattributed manuscript and its image of an Old Testament prophet as the

An art history Ph.D. student has identified a previously unattributed music manuscript.

Photo: Tommy LaVergne

President’s note



ow that the campaign is over, can you relax and cut back on the fundraising?” Since the end of June — when we announced we had surpassed the Centennial Campaign goal of $1 billion in gifts and pledges for Rice — I’ve heard this question quite often. My short and perhaps surprising answer is, “Not exactly.” So, while we celebrate this moment in Rice’s history and sincerely thank all those who so generously made it all possible, we’re not done dreaming about and investing in Rice’s future as our second century begins. Our campaign not only raised needed funds and has already made a tangible contribution to our mission, but we also raised our aspirations for this great university. Rice was founded with an extraordinary bequest of $4.6 million more than 100 years ago. At the time of William Marsh Rice’s death in 1900, that would be the equivalent of about $130 million today. Thus our Centennial Campaign raised more than eight times that original gift in real terms. And since the founding, there have been 75 people and institutions (our “Legacy” donors) who have matched the original gift in nominal terms. Through this generosity, plus astute investment and good fortune, the endowment today stands at $4.8 billion. It is that endowment and the “current use” gifts that our alumni and friends continue to provide that make both a Rice education and the productive expansion of knowledge possible. What we do — the breadth of our education, the low 6:1 undergraduate student-faculty ratio, excellent facilities for everything from biophysics to musical performance to intercollegiate athletics, support for the development of the whole student, graduate student fellowships, financial support of a diverse student body, strong advising and counseling services, the residential colleges, pathbreaking research — is indeed extraordinarily expensive. We estimate that each year we spend about $87,000 per undergraduate student to create this comprehensive educational experience. Our tuition now stands at $38,260. Owing to our generous financial aid, on average our students pay about $19,000. Although Rice started charging tuition in 1964, we have

remained true to our commitment to make a Rice education available regardless of the financial resources of the students who seek out that education, and they earn admission through a process that does not consider their financial need. Could we deliver an education to our students for significantly less cost? Of course. But could we continue to do those things that have made a Rice education historically the finest available and continue to achieve the same level of excellence in both research and teaching in a changed and changing world

art history. We have identified areas where we weren’t achieving what we needed to, such as writing instruction, and developed entirely new programs supported by generous gifts. I believe that William Marsh Rice and Edgar Odell Lovett would have been immensely proud of what their university has achieved over the last century. But they would be perhaps even more proud that it had inspired so much generosity on behalf of so many others: more than 49,000 individuals and institutions contributed to the campaign, and among our alumni, nearly 60 percent

I believe that William Marsh Rice and Edgar Odell Lovett would have been immensely proud of what their university has achieved over the last century. But they would be perhaps even more proud that it had inspired so much generosity on behalf of so many others. David W. Leebron with fewer resources? Almost certainly not, although we must and do strive constantly to be more efficient. What has the campaign made possible? It has added more than $100 million in scholarship endowments, which translate to about $5 million per year in additional scholarship resources. We added 35 new or enhanced endowed professorships. We’ve built needed academic buildings and classrooms. We have funded the expansion of our student body and established new academic programs in Asian studies, urban research and Jewish studies, as well as new doctoral programs in sociology and

made contributions. That is both a measure of a century of success and of confidence in our future. I am excited by what the campaign made possible. But I am more excited by what it continues to make possible, what it will make possible, and what the ongoing generosity of our alumni and friends will make possible far into our future. And that is why not only have my efforts to secure resources to help achieve our ambitions not diminished, but I feel privileged every day I have an opportunity to ask others to join us in this great endeavor.

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“This experience has challenged me to think about every aspect of service deeper than I ever had before.” M e g a n

W O R D S : K E L LY W I N D H A M   •   P H O T O S : J E F F F I T L O W

Houston is a city unlike any other — a city that has become a symbol of innovation, progress and globalization. At the heart of that city, Rice University stands as a testament to the hard work and revolutionary thought upon which the city thrives. But to leave the story there is to tell a halftruth, to paint a partial portrait of a city whose identity is swathed in layers of success and strife.


rban Immersion, a Rice Community Involvement Center (CIC) program, has introduced incoming freshmen and transfer students to the “reality” of Houston for more than a decade. The program is an intensive, service-learning experience that provides students with a better understanding of the urban issues, social needs and cultural diversity that are so often ignored or misunderstood both within the city limits and beyond. Each summer, two sessions hosting a total of 48 incoming students are facilitated by six Rice undergraduate students and supported by two staff members. Urban Immersion connects with 20 service agencies around the metro area that focus on issues ranging from homelessness and hunger to workers’ rights, addiction recovery, education disparities, habitat conservation, urban pollution and domestic abuse. At each agency, the team is given an orientation that outlines the problem, the impact that problem has on both a personal and societal level, and the measures by which the agency is attempting to overcome the issue — from root causes to sustainable solutions. Each day, students take part in direct service projects and, in doing so, gain a greater understanding of both the issue and the world of nonprofit and service-driven organizations. Students learn to see service not as penance but as a mutually beneficial and rewarding experience crucial to their development as active citizens and invested members of a global city. Continued on Page 22

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Community Family Centers

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J O U R N A L T H O U G H T S Urban Immersion students were asked to contribute to a shared journal. All the quotes here are drawn from this shared booklet created over each one-week session. The journal helps to fulfill one of the three components of all of the Rice Community Involvement Center’s programs: service, education and reflection.


“ The Beacon

ignore homeless people each and every day. I treat

migrant workers like scenery. I look and judge. I treat mentally impaired adults like children. But as I meet new people in these categories, I practice loving them and treating them like real people.”



t a lot of places, we went behind the scenes.

That changed my perspective

Community Family Centers (previous page and top and

The Beacon (above) is a nonprofit center whose mission

bottom of Page 19), founded in 1972 as the Chicano Family

is to restore dignity, self-respect and hope to the homeless.

Center, provides services for low-income families of Houston’s

It is run by Christ Church Cathedral and located directly

East End. Rice volunteers joined in a variety of the daily

across the street from their sanctuary. During the first week’s

programming classes for young children and families.

program, Rice students arrived after the center had closed for the day, so their tasks included cleaning up and getting ready for the next day’s work. In this way, the students learned how meaningful “indirect service” can be while getting a behind-the-scenes view of running a large homeless-serving

of places that are making Houston a better city.”



was surprised to realize how different my outlook


on volunteering changed once

  During the second week, students served food at The

it was no longer mandatory.”

Beacon and learned more about the working homeless, some of whom use this facility to get dressed before going to their

Emi ly

jobs. The experience “completely altered their perspective of what ‘homeless’ means,” Windham said. Continued »

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Community Family Centers

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Bo’s Place

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rban Immersion has also showed me the real

problems that plague nonprofits and how much more effective they could be if more people got involved and actually cared.”


Christ Church Cathedral


realized that as privileged college students in a city

facing severe social issues, it is our responsibility to stand up for those who are repressed and restore their dignity and selfefficacy.”



rue giving requires a connection to someone

else’s cause and recognizing they deserve respect. To me,

Bo’s Place (opposite page) is a bereavement center offering

Christ Church Cathedral (above), located in downtown

grief support for children, families and adults who have

Houston, hosted the students for both sessions. Each evening,

experienced a loss in their immediate families. The young

before splitting up into reflection groups, the students and

clients had filled a large paper tree with leaves on which were

leaders gathered for a rundown on service opportunities for

pity is a very self-centered

written messages of thanks. These glimpses of gratefulness

the next day and to digest what they did that day. Together,

notion, because it is the act

amid grief were deeply moving to the students.

the group would “dig into the experiences from a more

of deeming someone more

  Rice students provided indirect service by making new

philosophical or emotional standpoint,” Windham said.

signage and completing prep work, like cutting and copying,

  The students also spent some time each evening writing

for a future project. The students also organized office space

notes to fellow participants. The notes could be general

and inventoried a big donation of books. Bo’s Place, founded in

thoughts or expressions about the work they were doing or

1990, provides all its services for free.

more specific messages about something that happened.

hopeless and helpless than the ‘pitier.’”


There was only one rule. No one could open their paper bags until returning to their homes. Reading them, Windham said, was often “an emotional release” for the students.  

Continued »

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f I was able to have this experience again, the only

thing I would change about it is going to the other agencies I didn’t go to the first time.”

Fe y Justicia Worker Center


The Lighthouse of Houston Continued from Page 16

Fe y Justicia Worker Center (top) helps low-wage workers

The Lighthouse of Houston (bottom), established in

learn about their workplace rights and advocates for better

1939, helps people who are blind or visually impaired live

working conditions for migrants and other laborers. At their

independently. On the days the Rice students visited,

downtown Houston office, Rice students learned more about

Lighthouse clients were participating in an art therapy

the critical role migrant workers play in Houston. With water

class — painting little figurines that would be sold to help

bottles and bilingual leaflets in hand, the students fanned out

support the center. For some with physical disabilities, the

in groups and approached many day laborers to learn about

students had to help them use the paintbrush.

their experiences and let them know about Fe y Justicia’s services.

After busy days of volunteer work, Rice’s Urban Immersion teams went out in the evenings to sample Houston’s diverse arts and cultural scenes. In addition to seeing plays at Miller Outdoor Theatre and touring art exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the students got a folk dancing lesson (right) from the Houston International Folk Dancers.

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In addition to service projects, students get a taste of all that Houston has to offer, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Art Car Museum, outdoor theater and international folk dancing. Students learn about the patchwork of neighborhoods that give Houston its unique flavor, from their demographic breakdown to the endearing quirks that make each of them distinctive. In navigating the public transportation system, they learn firsthand the freedom that system allows them in gaining greater access to the city beyond the Rice campus. Possibly the greatest advantage of Urban Immersion is the opportunity it affords students to make lifelong connections with civic-minded and compassion-driven peers. “The relationships they form at Urban Immersion span their time at Rice and encourage collaboration and mutual support for projects that address social concerns in Houston and around the world,” said Mac Griswold, CIC director. Urban Immersion students leave the program with a hunger to know the city, a drive to connect their passions with the skills and knowledge they will gain at Rice, and the support of a university that understands and appreciates the value of civic engagement and leadership. Kelly Windham joined the CIC as assistant director in April after serving as a teacher trainer and youth development specialist with the U.S. Peace Corps in Azerbaijan from 2010 to 2012.

Houston International Folk Dancers

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ONE WILD IDEA 24  R i c e M a g a z i n e · Fa l l 2 0 1 3

Sometimes, the best response to disaster is to go wild. That’s just one of the

innovative ideas reached by Rice’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center after an intensive study of the impact of Hurricane Ike on the upper Texas coast. Even though Ike’s winds qualified as only a Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, by the time the storm made landfall on Galveston Island during the night of Sept. 12–13, 2008, hurricane winds extended 120 miles across. That gave it the force to push a 20-foot-high dome of Gulf of Mexico water across the Bolivar Peninsula, which lay on the northeast quadrant, or “dirty side,” of the eye, and up into Galveston Bay and then into the city of Galveston from the harbor. Houston proper suffered a relatively minor hit — primarily downed power lines, uprooted trees and flattened fences. Yet across the Greater Houston area, Ike caused $27 billion in damage, making it the fourth-most expensive hurricane in U.S. history. That damage was almost exclusively to buildings and infrastructure. The natural systems — wetlands, coastal prairie, Galveston Bay itself — recovered quickly. By the time the debris was cleared from the causeway to Galveston Island, the first tentative green sprouts of marsh grass were poking up along the edges of the bay. By the time Ike hit, the SSPEED Center had already been up and running for a year, uncovering lessons learned from recent hurricanes like Katrina and Rita. The center brings together experts from Rice, the University of Houston, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University at Galveston, the University of Texas at Austin and Louisiana State University, plus several architecture and engineering firms. Phil Bedient, Rice’s Herman Brown Professor of Engineering, serves as director, and Jim Blackburn, who is a professor in the practice of environmental law at Rice, is co-director. The center’s mission is to lead both research Left: Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (Refugio County)



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and education efforts that help Gulf Coast residents and businesses prepare for storms and mitigate the ways these disasters affect our lives. “We’re kind of proud of the fact that these major universities are all working together in one direction on a very important project that impacts the entire Gulf Coast,” Bedient said. NATURE’S LESSONS Among the strategies for protection against future hurricanes that SSPEED evaluated was what Blackburn called “nonstructural surge damage mitigation.” In other words, the experts started “looking at nature and learning from nature — and exercising some humility in that approach,” he said. What they observed was that, left in their natural state, bays, estuaries, and the wetlands and prairies that surrounded them recovered surprisingly rapidly from hurricane-related floods. Within days of salty inundation from Ike, the wetlands of Chambers County were returning a long cascade of storm water to Galveston Bay. The marshes, so essential as nurseries for flounder, redfish, oysters and shrimp, had doubled as cleansing sponges. This was a lesson that human systems should note, Blackburn said. But much of the wetlands already had been lost to industrial and residential development. On Galveston Island, the Bolivar Peninsula and Surfside Beach, many of the cattle pastures and modest “bait camps” of a generation earlier had been replaced by subdivisions of mammoth vacation homes on man-made canals. On the mainland, petrochemical plants dotted the shores of Galveston Bay from Freeport and Texas City to within a few miles of downtown Houston. With a population of more than 6 million in the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area, demand for recreational amenities an hour from home was bound to grow — and developers were bound to respond. If the remaining wetlands along the upper Texas coast were to be preserved as a protective barrier, a countervailing economic force would have to come into play. As Blackburn pragmatically put it, SSPEED needed to “design a nonstructural solution and figure out an economic system that can survive inundation.” Start with the desired result, then work backward. It was an unconventional approach. For advice, Bedient called on environmental consultant Lynn Scarlett, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior under President George W. Bush. The area in question spread 130 miles

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along the upper Texas coast, almost from the Louisiana border on the northeast to Matagorda Island on the southwest and inland to Winnie, Alvin and Bay City, for a total of 1 million acres, more than a third of which is wetlands. It involved hundreds of property owners, from government entities like the Department of the Interior with its national wildlife refuges and Texas Parks and Wildlife with its state parks, to conservation associations like Ducks Unlimited and the Houston Audubon Society, to multinational petrochemical corporations, to individual farmers and ranchers. Especially given the present anti-big-government sentiment, the formation of a national seashore, similar to Padre Island’s, would never fly, they reasoned. Even in a different era, assembling the parcel would have been impossibly unwieldy; and with the National Park Service’s $2.9 billion budget virtually flat since 2008, the money simply wouldn’t be there. Scarlett suggested an alternative structure — something called a “national recreation area.” Over the past three decades, the concept had proven viable in 18 areas, from the Boston Harbor Islands to the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles. The National Park Service (NPS) would serve as an organizing entity to package and “brand” the recreation area as a tourist destination, but the land itself would remain in private, state or local government hands. No additional regulations would be imposed. Federal expenditures would be kept to a minimum. Most appealing to Texans in particular, participation would be entirely voluntary. “This is a solution that has been tailored to address Texas concerns about interference with property rights and federal intervention in local matters,” Blackburn said. A RECREATION AREA The proposed Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area (LSCNRA) has some prominent backers. Leading the effort are former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, a keen naturalist, as well as distinguished statesman, who is honorary chairman of the project’s steering committee. As chairman, they tapped John Nau III, who with his wife, Bobbie, owns Silver Eagle Distributors, the second-largest beer distributorship in the country. Nau has a deep interest in both historical and environmental preservation. Galveston attorney, Moody Gardens board member and former legislator Doug McLeod agreed to help

assemble a partners coalition representing nonprofit organizations; philanthropic foundations; private landowners; and local, state and national government entities. This coalition is responsible for articulating the specifics of the vision, including hammering out the draft of the enabling legislation the group hopes to present to Congress in fall 2013, with the hope of getting it passed in time for the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service. A joint National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and SSPEED study of the economic potential of the project determined that within its first five years, the LSCNRA would add 5,260 jobs in the four-county region and infuse $192 million per year into the local economy. The area is already an international destination for birders, offering a wealth of colorful migratory and resident species, and is regionally popular for bay and offshore fishing. But other low-impact diversions, such as kayaking, are underdeveloped. “This project is very grass-roots driven,” said Victoria Herrin, campaign director for the Texas Gulf Coast in the National Parks Conservation Association, which is working with John Nau to take the legislation forward. “Rather than being handed down from Washington, the LSCNRA is being handed up from the grass roots.” Karla Klay, founder and executive director of Artist Boat, a Galveston nonprofit that encourages both adults and schoolchildren to explore the bay and bayous by kayak, explained that as a member of the partners coalition she could accomplish much more to conserve the wetlands and promote nature tourism than she could on her own. A graduate of the yearlong Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives in Rice’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, she said, “I love community-based initiatives. I enjoy connecting things and concepts and places and organizations. You can leverage resources and get more done.” A COLLABORATIVE APPROACH The LSCNRA would work like this: Through its website and publications, the NPS would present the area as nationally significant in terms of its lush scenery, diverse environment rich in flora and fauna, recreational opportunities, and historically significant structures, including Galveston’s wealth of Victorian architecture and Fort Travis, part of the battery of late 19th-century coastal defenses. The NPS also

Above: Grasslands of Matagorda County and the Chinquapin community Below: The land suggested for the Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area


Chambers County


Galveston County Texas City Galveston Brazoria County Bay City Matagorda County



Public Lands NGO Partner Lands LSCNRA Area of Interest

“This is a solution that has been tailored to address Texas concerns about interference with property rights and federal intervention in local matters.”   Jim Blackburn

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28  R i c e M a g a z i n e ¡ fa l l 2 0 1 3

would bring their vast knowledge and expertise to the region, as well as staff for the LSCNRA. Responding to the elevated public interest, state agencies, NGOs and private landowners would recognize the opportunity to prosper by making the wetlands more accessible — adding launch ramps for kayaks, augmenting a dock with a casual restaurant, organizing guide services. For example, a rancher who now rented a cabin on his duck hunting lease would be able to make additional money by making it available to birders the rest of the year. Leaving his land in its natural state, or restoring it, would become profitable enough to compete with developing it. Compared to people who travel for other reasons, nature and cultural tourists tend to spend more money per day and be more considerate of their surroundings. The LSCNRA would give landowners an economic stake in protecting the wetlands of the upper Texas coast, and those wetlands, in turn, would protect the towns, cities and industries from future storm surges. This could only happen through a coordinated effort. “Nature can’t take care of itself anymore,” said Klay, “and oceans can’t take care of themselves. People have to step in.” The next step for the project will be to introduce federal legislation to create the LSCNRA. To date, many private, local, state and federal government interests have signed on as potential partners. There might be a more pressing long-range economic reason to encourage leaving this coast as natural as possible. According to John Anderson, Rice’s Maurice W. Ewing Professor of Oceanography and author of “The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast” (Texas A&M University Press, 2007), Galveston Island is experiencing a rate of sea-level rise not only unprecedented, but four to six times the average for the past 4,000 years. “There are large areas of the island that are within a meter of sea level, like wetlands, that are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise,” he warned. “We are currently seeing radical change. It is not a prediction. It’s an ongoing process.” “The basic idea,” Blackburn said at a conference earlier this year, “is to develop a recreation and natural resource-oriented economy that can survive inundation. It is ‘economy’ as a flood mitigation alternative. In other words, the coast would not suffer economic harm from flooding if flooding were designed into and compatible with the structure of the economy.” Maybe the idea is not so wild after all.

Thinking Beyond Ike Hurricane Ike, which concluded its trans-Atlantic rampage by slamming into the Texas Gulf Coast Sept. 13, 2008, was a deadly disaster, taking two dozen lives and costing more than $24 billion in damage. Despite the long-lasting human, economic and environmental toll, experts at Rice’s SSPEED (Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters) Center said the toll could have been much worse. “If Ike, a Category 2 storm, had made landfall 30 miles west of Bolivar Peninsula, it would have directly hit the Houston Ship Channel, causing an even greater tragedy,” said Phil Bedient, director of the SSPEED Center and the Herman Brown Professor of Engineering. To reduce risk to the city’s commercial heart in the event of another Ike-like hurricane, Bedient and his team recommend the immediate construction of a 25-foot retractable sea gate to protect the Houston Ship Channel. Dubbed the “Centennial Gate” in honor of the Ship Channel’s 100th anniversary in 2014, the gate’s purpose is to prevent a major storm surge from entering the channel, causing both economic and environmental catastrophe. Costs are estimated in the $1.5 billion range and could be funded locally, SSPEED’s directors said. Planning for “much worse” was the focus of “Hurricane Ike: Five Years Later,” a conference sponsored by the SSPEED Center and held at Rice in late September. The conference covered not only hurricane protection for Houston, but also evaluated responses related to hurricanes Sandy (2012) and Katrina (2005). Scheduled speakers included Houston Mayor Annise Parker ’78; Janiece Longoria, chairman of the Port of Houston Authority’s Port Commission; Bill Read, former director of the National Hurricane Center; and Ning Lin, a climate change and severe weather expert and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton University. To read more about the conference and the proposed Centennial Gate, visit index.html

The Fred Hartman Bridge is the proposed site for the construction of a 25-foot retractable sea gate to protect the Houston Ship Channel. Above: Village of Tiki Island (Galveston County) Left: Marshlands near the northeastern end of Galveston Island fa l l 2 0 1 3 · R i c e M a g a z i n e  


Rice University Centennial Campaign




$1.1 billion 49,765




$106 million





32  R i c e M a g a z i n e · FALL 2 0 1 3

S U R PA S S I N G G O A L O F $1 B I L L I O N















$54.5 MILLION donated to

Rice Annual Fund for the student experience

8,001 DONORS made their first gift to Rice during the campaign

4,264 DONORS made a gift every

year during the campaign (2005-2013)

5,732 VOLUNTEERS gave time, talents and resources

28 NEWLY ENDOWED faculty chairs

When the Centennial Campaign began eight years ago, we imagined where “no upper limit” could take us and set out to raise $1 billion by the end of Rice’s centennial year. We knew the goal was a stretch, given the size of our alumni base. Yet we also knew that we would get support from alumni and friends who believe in our mission and our ability to act on it. In the end, the Rice community responded with historic generosity and enthusiasm. As of the campaign close June 30, 2013, nearly 50,000 donors and 5,732 volunteers from Houston and beyond raised $1.1 billion to reinforce the hallmarks of undergraduate education, while building toward a brighter future and expanding the university’s local and global reach. These are impressive numbers, and they demonstrate measurable success, but one could argue that the real story is in the immeasurables — the first-generation science major who wouldn’t be here without financial aid, the future congressman who reads Robert Penn Warren for pleasure or the opera star who traveled to Italy to hone her talent. It’s a story as mindbending as condensed matter physics and as practical as the engineer who can now conduct experiments without the disruptive influence of a vibrating floor. Find these stories and more in the following pages. FALL 2 0 1 3 · R i c e M a g a z i n e  


Brick by Brick

Longtime friend quietly helps build the campus For a man who never attended Rice University, Ralph O’Connor, 87, knows the campus as if he drew the blueprints and stacked the bricks himself. Driving what he calls his “beat up” Acura along the university’s Inner Loop, he pointed to the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center and talked about how the facility’s heated outdoor pool keeps competitive swimmers lithe and limber in the winter. Then, on a second pass around the loop, he pulled his car to the curb and walked to Martel College. Peering through the large windows of the commons, he looked upward and admired the vaulted ceilings. “Old English style,” he said. After more exploration, he walked toward Brochstein Pavilion where a large, bronze owl sculpture stood in an attractive garden — a gift to the university from him and his wife, Becky. The owl is just one of many gifts O’Connor has given to Rice over the decades. One of the primary individual donors to Rice University’s Centennial Campaign, O’Connor is as modest discussing his contributions as his roots. Originally from the Long Island village of Plandome — “so small even the Good Humor man wouldn’t drive through it” — O’Connor dug ditches and serviced oil wells before running a successful oil and gas company and eventually starting an investment firm, Ralph S. O’Connor & Associates, in Houston in 1987. His recent contributions to Rice funded the majority of the George R. Brown Tennis Complex, which broke ground in May. He also supported the Anderson-Clarke Center (formally, the D. Kent and Linda C. Anderson and Robert L. and Jean T. Clarke Center), which will be the new home of the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, and the Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center, which was built in 2009 to accommodate Rice’s increasing undergraduate and graduate enrollment. Over the years, O’Connor has contributed to Rice regularly by giving to the Shepherd School of Music, Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, and numerous endowments and scholarships. Though O’Connor’s generosity is made tangible in these and other contributions, he prefers to stay behind the scenes when it comes to public recognition. “He’s not one to slap his name on everything,” said Susie Morris Glasscock ’62, co-chair of the Centennial Campaign, a former Rice trustee and another dedicated Rice donor. “All of it he does very quietly.” In fact, the house that serves as the headquarters of the Office of Alumni Affairs and University

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Events and the Center for Career Development was once named after O’Connor, but he requested that it carry the name of a prominent Rice alumnus. In 2009, the house was renamed to honor donors Peter ’59 and Nancy Huff, who had made a gift to the Centennial Campaign for renovations to the house. “He’s given a lot of money to Rice, but more importantly, he’s given his time and his interest,” Glasscock said. A 1951 graduate of Johns Hopkins University, O’Connor’s path to Rice is rather serendipitous. In the late 1940s, after an unsuccessful attempt to find a summer job in the Kansas wheat fields, O’Connor and a college friend drove their shared Model A Ford to Houston, where O’Connor had an uncle. At the private Bayou Club, they met a lifeguard who attended Rice. “I knew Rice was very similar to Johns Hopkins. I gravitated to it even that summer,” O’Connor recalled, explaining that he liked its small size and prestige. “In the east, if you were a young person, people would ask who your dad was. People in Houston would ask where you went to school,” he said. “Rice” was always an impressive answer. That same summer, he met the daughter of George R. Brown, an executive of Brown & Root, Inc., and one of Houston’s most prominent entrepreneurs and philanthropists — although he was not aware of Brown’s status at the time. O’Connor and Maconda Brown married, and O’Connor moved to Houston after graduation. The couple raised four children. (Ralph and Maconda divorced in 1993.) O’Connor worked his way through the ranks at Herman Brown and George R. Brown Oil and Gas and Highland Oil, where he became president in 1964. Not much time passed before his father-inlaw — who served on the Rice Board of Trustees, including as chairman from 1943 to 1968 — began to subtly impress upon O’Connor the spirit of giving, especially to Rice. While George Brown graduated from the Colorado School of Mines, his attraction to Rice no doubt rubbed off on his son-in-law. O’Connor served on the board from 1976 to 1988 and often made suggestions to George Brown for raising money. “I used to kid him a lot about the stuff Rice was doing,” he said. “They didn’t charge tuition for many years. I said, ‘If you ask any psychiatrist they would say if you don’t pay for something, you don’t think it’s worth anything.’” O’Connor also thought Rice should hold regular fundraising campaigns, as his alma mater did. The Brown Foundation, a charitable organization established in 1951 by George and Alice Pratt Brown and Herman and Margarett Root

Brown, took serious note of O’Connor’s suggestion and began the famous Brown Challenge, whereby the foundation offered to double, sometimes even quadruple, the donations of alumni. As Rice slowly expanded its enrollment and reputation, O’Connor served in a number of roles, including Rice trustee, trustee emeritus, honorary member of the Association of Rice Alumni and most recently a cabinet member of the Centennial Campaign, which took place from 2005 to 2013. When asked what he thought of a billion-dollar campaign during a nationwide recession, he simply responded, “If you’re going to have a football game, you gotta kick it off.” Education is the primary focus of O’Connor’s philanthropy, and he enjoys taking on challenges such as initiating matching fund campaigns and helping the university “get over the hump” and reach its goal, he said. He also helped grow the Rice Public Art Program through some significant gifts, including “Monumental Barn Owl” by English artist Geoffrey Dashwood in the Milus E. Hindman Garden and “Po-um (Lyric),” a 6-ton Mark di Suvero sculpture near Herzstein Hall. “I guarantee you that if you walk by a piece of art three times a week for four years, it opens up your mind to something,” he said. “You need art on campus.” Although O’Connor is beyond traditional retirement years, he comes to work five days a week — sometimes on Saturdays — and relies on two associates and an administrative assistant to continue investing in oil and gas exploration and real estate. He wears khakis and a tie, albeit one clipped to his shirt with a small binder clip, an unspoiled glimpse for an outsider to see he is down to earth. “You could not meet a nicer, greater person than Ralph,” said Karen Mathews, who has worked with O’Connor for more than 30 years. “He sets a good example and lives by it.” O’Connor regularly attends the university’s sporting events, especially women’s tennis matches. He pays particular attention to court No. 5, named after his wife, Becky, a dietician, research nutritionist, former adjunct lecturer at Rice — and a lover of tennis. “Ralph and Becky are always in the front row,” said Elizabeth Schmidt, Rice’s head women’s tennis coach. “He and Becky are really loyal, emotional supporters, as well as friends of our program.” “I’ve seen almost anything Rice has ever played. I still have a football box. It’s the same box that Mr. Brown had,” O’Connor said of his seat on the 35th yard line. “He could have had any box at that stadium, but he didn’t want to be the front guy.” Following in George Brown’s footsteps, O’Connor even expressed reluctance to talk about his contributions to the university. To him, he is simply “lucky” and notes that giving is what moves and inspires him. “I think it’s important to give because we’re all in the same boat together,” he said. “I think it makes you feel good. What are you going to do with it if you don’t give it away? Sit on it? It’s not going to hatch. Or maybe it would hatch! I don’t know.” —HEATHER SAUCIER

The Policy Wonk: Daniel Cohen ’14 When Daniel Cohen was in sixth grade, he started watching “The West Wing.” He’s never been quite the same since. “It sounds silly to say I was inspired by a TV show,” he said, “but I really was captivated by its portrayal of what government could be.” Growing up in Michigan, the son of a businessman and a former environmental psychologist, Cohen didn’t know anyone who worked in government. But “The West Wing” sparked his interest. In high school, Cohen relished his Advanced Placement U.S. history class. He read books like Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” and Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” for sheer pleasure. And then he knew, with clarity uncommon in someone so young, that his future was in government. So why did he choose a science and engineering powerhouse like Rice? “It was the Baker Institute,” Cohen said. “I knew that getting direct access to a top policy think tank would be an amazing experience, and it’s exceeded my expectations.” Last year, Cohen co-directed the Gateway Study of Leadership (GSL), a student-led fellowship in the School of Social Sciences. For that program, he interviewed more than 10 natural science faculty members about significant milestones in their careers. The series of interviews by Cohen and other Gateway fellows has been published in a five-part series called “Turning Points.” GSL is one of the opportunities made available to undergraduates through the Gateway Program, which includes internships, summer fellowships, research opportunities, international ambassadorships and more. The programs, designed to help students bridge classroom and real-world experiences, was made possible through Centennial Campaign gifts from alumni and friends of Rice. Now in its seventh year, Gateway has become an essential and innovative component of social science education at Rice, offering leadership and enrichment opportunities. At the Baker Institute, Cohen founded the first undergraduate public policy competition in the nation. As with so many Owls, it’s unclear when, precisely, Cohen finds time to sleep. He is a senior double majoring in political science and economics with a minor in poverty, justice and human capabilities. The president of both Lovett College and the Baker Institute Student Forum, Cohen has interned with the likes of the Brookings Institution and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. His dream job? “Well, if I’m really dreaming, I would love to be chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs,” he said. With a résumé like his, that dream seems well within reach. —ROSE CAHALAN ’10

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The Architect: Shaan Patel ’14

The Teacher: Cynthia Alejandre ’14

Rice School of Architecture (RSA) students are notorious for pulling long hours in the studio. Many of them practically move into Anderson Hall, sleeping on couches and leaving only in search of caffeine. Not Shaan Patel. “I chose Rice for the quality of life,” he said, “so I make a conscious effort to get out and work on a campuswide level.” This Miami native and McMurtry College prime minister has left a lasting mark on the campus — in the most literal sense. Patel, Adam Bloom ’15 and a student committee designed a new patio space for his college, a cheerful spot where McMurts can now gather to relax. The project lasted a year and a half from conception to grand opening, and Patel, now a senior, was an enthusiastic participant. In addition to drawing up the patio’s blueprint, he also sold the idea to McMurtry’s student government, secured funding and worked closely with Rice’s Housing and Dining and Facilities Engineering and Planning departments. Patel has a knack for leaving things better than he found them. As a Campanile editor, he led a redesign that has taken the yearbook from stale to stylish. But Patel stresses that good design is not just about aesthetics. “A lot of people think that architecture and design are all about making things pretty,” Patel said. “It’s a lot more than that. Now the yearbook really tells a story.” During a week in Chile last spring, Patel and his architecture classmates toured world-renowned buildings, met elite architects and pondered the future of global design. Another vital architecture skill, Patel said, is thinking globally. “So the Santiago trip was really important.” Patel’s trip was made possible through the John J. Casbarian Travel Fund, a scholarship that sends whole studios and classes around the world to experience architecture as art and profession. The fund, which honors the first dean to create a regular traveling studio and the founder of RSA Paris, was established through a matching gift by former trustee Ralph S. O’Connor and many generous donations. “When you travel with others, you profit from everyone else’s impressions,” said RSA Dean Sarah Whiting. “It’s incredibly important to enrich what students are learning in the classroom and to augment it.” Patel is planning a career at the intersection of architecture and public policy, with aspirations of opening his own firm someday.

Applying to college, Cynthia Alejandre remembers, was like learning a new language. As a first-generation college student, she didn’t have family or friends with experience deciphering scholarship applications and test scores. Jargon like “FAFSA” and “deferred loans” felt overwhelming. And her struggling high school wasn’t much help, either. “My school was so big that the counselors weren’t able to give us much one-on-one time,” Alejandre said. “Starting out, I had no idea how to even approach applying to Rice. I was pretty much on my own.” She didn’t let it faze her. Alejandre — a soft-spoken Houston native who radiates a quiet confidence — did research online, polished her application and was admitted to Rice through early decision. Scholarships made it possible for her to enroll, but that was just the first hurdle. For the first time in her educational career, Alejandre struggled in her freshman classes at Rice. “High school was easy,” she said, “but at Rice, I realized how underprepared I was. I had to catch up fast.” It all came together when Alejandre signed up for a class on urban education. As education certification lecturer Judy Radigan led discussions on topics like gang violence at school and intergenerational poverty, Alejandre found herself perched on the edge of her seat. “It really hit home,” she said. Having lived the very educational disparities she was now studying, Alejandre connected with the material in a powerful way. “I decided I should do something about it,” she said, “and that’s when I got serious about going into education.” Majoring in biochemistry and cell biology, she wants to teach high school science in an underserved community. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant for organic chemistry, she tutors peers at Lovett College as an Academic Fellow. And this summer, she helped give entering freshmen — many of them first-generation students like herself — a boost in STEM fields as a coach with the Rice Emerging Scholars Program. Rice’s Centennial Scholarship Initiative raised $106 million to bring talented students (and future accomplished alumni), like Alejandre, to Rice. “Without the generous support of those who donate to Rice, I never could have hoped to step foot in this university,” Alejandre said. “As a first-generation college student, I’ve set a precedent for my family to continue the tradition of higher education. As a Rice graduate, I plan to become a donor myself and give to those who deserve an opportunity for success.”—RC


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The Renaissance Man: Gabe Baker ’14

Gabe Baker’s friends practically dragged him into signing up for the Mr. Rice contest, a lighthearted pageant featuring 11 of the university’s most eligible bachelors. “I really did not want to do it,” Baker said. “I’d heard that it wasn’t the most — uh, how should I put this — not the most modest event.” But the glory of representing his beloved Brown College was too much to pass up. So Baker, with a thousand-watt smile and a well-fitted suit, serenaded the judges with a Frank Sinatra tune. When other contestants stripped down to Speedos for the swimsuit portion of the evening, Baker walked out in shorts, an inner tube and a snorkel. That’s Gabe Baker for you. He does things his own way, a method that’s working out pretty well for him. That night, he capped off a winning performance by addressing the judges in better-than-passable Chinese. The crowd cheered as Baker was officially crowned Mr. Rice 2012. “It was actually an awesome experience,” he enthused, still sounding surprised a year later. That same enthusiasm pervades everything Baker does — and he does a lot. Wearing No. 40 as a safety on the football team, he helped lift the Owls to their 33–14 win over the Air Force Falcons at the Armed Forces Bowl last year. He’s also a civil and environmental engineering major who puts in long hours at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen and has picked up a business minor, too. Did we mention that he plays classical cello and studies Chinese for fun? Baker’s particular path of excellence is built on a foundation of philanthropy. The OEDK is widely recognized as one of the transformational successes of the Centennial Campaign, the legacy of M. Kenneth Oshman ’62, who together with his wife, Barbara, donated the lead gift that established the lab in 2008. In just five years, the design kitchen has become a model for engineering design across the country, and gifts have made possible its recent 6,000-foot expansion to accommodate demand for work spaces. And Rice’s new business minor, which Baker will earn, is made possible by the campaign’s funding of faculty lines and curriculum. Because of his medical redshirt, Baker will play another season for the Owls after he graduates from Rice in May. After that, he hopes to play professionally, but Baker also is keeping his eye on an engineering career. “I wouldn’t be here without scholarships,” he said. “I like that saying, ‘The tassel is worth the hassle.’ All my time at Rice is going to be 100 percent worth it.” —RC

The Soprano: Mary-Jane Lee ’10 Nothing stops Mary-Jane Lee from doing her job. That includes blunt force trauma to the head. Last year, Lee was singing in an opera when a wooden plank fell from the set above, hitting her squarely in the forehead. Lee dashed backstage, where a stage manager handed her an ice pack. Then she ran back out and finished her song. “The amazing thing,” Lee said, “is that I was supposed to have a cold compress on my head anyway, because I was singing this woe-is-me kind of piece. So it wasn’t a big deal.” During a costume change, Lee noticed blood from the wound had dripped onto her face. She wiped it away before her next scene. The nonchalance with which Lee tells this story recalls an old motivational slogan: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Lee’s life so far looks a lot like an answer to that question. She married her college sweetheart, Brian Lee ’12, at age 19 and then left their native Utah for Texas so they could both earn master’s degrees at Rice — architecture for Brian and opera singing for Mary-Jane. She wasn’t afraid to travel alone all over the country, from Minnesota to New York to New Mexico, for jobs with opera companies small and large. She was afraid, Lee said, when after a dry spell of not landing jobs and wondering if this professional musician thing was really going to stick, she decided to move to Paris and take a few months off from singing. “I read books in cafes, painted, did some freelance writing,” she said. “And when I came back, I felt ready.” Now Lee has landed a spot in an elite training program at the best opera company in the nation and arguably in the world: the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Through the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, she’ll spend the next year at the Met, honing her craft with expert mentors. Two years at the Shepherd School were instrumental in getting her there, Lee said. She pointed to a summer of intensive language study in Italy, made possible by

Rice’s Margaret C. Pack Language Institute for Singers, as a turning point. The Centennial Campaign’s mark on the Shepherd School

includes the establishment of the highly selective opera training program with components such as the Italian language and diction program. An anonymous lead gift will help build an opera house that is sure to nurture the voices and dreams of students like Lee. —RC FALL 2 0 1 3 · R i c e M a g a z i n e  


Calling All Young Alumni:

An Interview With Charley Landgraf ’75 by Sparky Frost ’07 Rice has given me a lot, including a top-flight education, wonderful friends and my own place in a community of brilliant, motivated and creative alumni. Since I graduated, I have done my best to return the favor, giving to support the Rice initiatives that speak to me personally and serving the next generation of Rice students, while encouraging my friends and fellow alumni to do the same. In many ways, I am following in the footsteps of alumni who came before me, including Charley Landgraf, whose enthusiastic support of students and faculty has motivated numerous alumni to give back to Rice, either through their time, talents or gifts. The Centennial Campaign was a perfect opportunity for Charley and me to work together, and I recently sat down with him to get his thoughts on inspiring alumni across generations to stay connected with our alma mater. —SPARKY FROST SF: What were some of the highlights of your years at Rice? CL: To name just a few, former President Lyndon B. Johnson

came to campus to dedicate Sid Richardson College, where I was a freshman. The MOB fixed its identity by being besieged by the Aggie Corps in the stadium tunnel in November 1973. The Shepherd School of Music opened, and in my senior year, Willy’s Pub opened in the basement of the RMC.

CL: May I turn the table? What were your memorable moments?

SF: Rice had just won the College World

Series when I matriculated, so we were very excited about baseball. President Leebron arrived, and the new Wiess College had just opened. We welcomed Tulane students and others after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. On a brighter note, Rice went to its first bowl game in more than 40 years.

SF: You’ve been kind of a mentor to young alumni during the campaign. What do you enjoy most about working with them? CL: It has a way of reaffirming my ba-

sic optimism. Young alumni are, along with research of course, the university’s principal output. Interacting with young alumni therefore is a great way to measure how Rice is doing in its core mission of producing young scholars ready for the world. And there’s always something joyful in working with engaged young people. 36  R i c e M a g a z i n e · FALL 2 0 1 3

SF: What is one surprising or not-so-surprising commonality among the Owls you meet?

CL: They could all make it to the “Jeopardy!” Tournament

of Champions if they weren’t so busy with more worthy life projects.

SF: How would you characterize the new generation of Owls? CL: Rice continues to draw students of exceptional promise

from uncommonly diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and then equips them for success, however they might choose to define those futures. The young alumni seem to get that Rice is not an institution of self-sustaining privilege, but rather one whose mission of opportunity and purpose — theirs — only continues if we all give back.

SF: As part of your support for the Centennial Campaign, you developed something called Charley’s Challenge in 2011. How did that come about?

CL: The year before, I joined trustee Keith Anderson ’83 in a

dollar-match as part of the Centennial Challenge to Young Alumni. With Charley’s Challenge, instead of matching the dollar value of gifts, we kicked in a certain amount of funds each time young alumni met a participation goal. Also, we hosted events in D.C., New York and San Francisco, because they have the largest young alumni populations outside of Texas. Although the challenge ended, we continued to host the events; we got a bit smarter by turning the event planning in those cities over to young alumni host committees, which brought more fun all around.

SF: Some folks may not feel comfortable asking for donations, but it comes naturally to you. Is there a trick to it?

CL: Actually, it doesn’t come naturally. I suppose talking to a

larger group in impersonal terms is easy enough. I’m not shy in that respect, but one-on-one solicitation was not easy or


Things You Should Know About the Rice Annual Fund: natural. Conversations with classmates have always been pleasant and usually rewarding in themselves, so talking to alumni for any reason offers a great opportunity to reconnect and find out how folks have gotten on in life.

SF: You’ve given young alumni a great example for supporting Rice. Any more advice?

CL: One way is to help with Rice Alumni Volunteers for Admis-

sion (RAVA) interviews. Only about one-third of Rice’s huge applicant pool each year gets an interview simply because we don’t have sufficient volunteers deployed around Texas and the country where the interested high school students are located. Second, give something, and organize others to give, as soon as you are able. I’m a bit of a late bloomer in helping and giving back to Rice. I think I was too career-focused in the early years. I wrote checks, mostly for small sums, but not much else — and am now making up for lost time and misspent youth. Editor’s note: Sparky Frost, a native Houstonian and Rice grad two times over, is an award-winning equestrian and young businesswoman. Since graduation, she has worked steadily to increase opportunities for young alumni to stay connected to Rice, in particular as a centennial class co-chair. At Rice, she majored in English and kinesiology and was a resident of Lovett College.

Charley Landgraf earned a degree in economics from Rice and later attended law school at New York University. A partner with the Washington, D.C.-based firm Arnold & Porter LLP, he represents insurance, energy and real estate clients before Congress and the executive branch. Charley was a centennial class chair and a Centennial Campaign volunteer in D.C. He is a member of the advisory board for the Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance at Rice, and he previously served as a co-chair of his 35th reunion, to name just a few of his activities on behalf of Rice. Landgraf was in the first freshman class at Sid Richardson College.

Throughout the Centennial Campaign, gifts to the Rice Annual Fund have fueled a vibrant student experience while ensuring the long-term strength of the university. Nearly 56 percent of the alumni and friends who participated in the campaign did so through the Annual Fund, making it the most prolific, and perhaps the most crucial, giving program at Rice. Annual Fund gifts have immediate impact. While some resources are earmarked for specific uses and stewarded carefully for the long haul, contributions to the Annual Fund are especially valuable and timely, as they can be used immediately to address Rice’s highest priorities. More than $54.5 million in current-use funds were raised during the campaign. It would have required an additional $175 million in endowment funds to generate the same level of support each year, per an average endowment spending rate of 4 percent.

“Current-use” also means, strangely enough, long-term. The Centennial Campaign would not have been a success without the Rice Annual Fund. Current-use gifts not only kept Rice resilient during Hurricane Ike and a prolonged recession, but they also provided all-important seed funding for new programs and initiatives, while allowing new endowments time to activate, a process that sometimes takes years. The Annual Fund supports the student experience ... We’re proud of Rice’s No. 1 ranking for “best quality of life” and No. 2 for “happiest students.” It’s a testament to the vibrant learning environment we’ve built here and are continuing to improve. Unrestricted funds raised through the Annual Fund are essential to this effort and provide funding for everything from residential college life to first-year writing seminars, outreach initiatives, and intramural sports and wellness activities. ... and really adds up. During the campaign, more than 96,000 gifts of $100 or less generated $6 million in support of Rice and its students. To put that into perspective, that amount could generate financial aid for more than 1,000 Rice Annual Fund Scholars, support 11 residential colleges for five years or provide 1,200 summer stipends for independent research. The Annual Fund makes a Rice education attainable. The generosity of our alumni and friends is a huge factor in our ability to offer competitive financial aid and maintain our commitment to need-blind admissions — and we are, coincidentally, one of a select number of schools in the nation that have made this commitment. Last year, the Rice Annual Fund provided more than $5.6 million in undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships. Such support is a big reason why Rice is consistently ranked a top 10 value by the Princeton Review. Without the Annual Fund, Rice wouldn’t be … Rice. FALL 2 0 1 3 · R i c e M a g a z i n e  


Energy-Efficient Home for Physics

Critical Scholarship

Since 2011, the Brockman Hall for Physics has been Rice’s center for fundamental and applied physics research. The faculty and lab facilities now occupying the four-story, 111,000-squarefoot building were once scattered among five buildings. Doug Natelson, professor of physics and astronomy and of electrical and computer engineering, leads a lab group in Brockman that’s working to understand the electronic, magnetic and optical properties of solid materials and the physics behind those properties. “Condensed matter physics and nanoscale engineering have given us the basis for essentially all modern consumer electronics,” Natelson said. A fundamental understanding of this kind of physics will lead to further advances in electronics, photonics and applications such as clean energy and quantum computing. About half of Natelson’s graduate students are working on experiments involving atomic- or molecular-scale junctions between larger electrodes, measuring things like electronic “noise” and using optical techniques to examine how energy flows. The other half are applying nanoscale techniques to understand a couple of particular materials that have strong electron-electron interaction physics. Before Brockman Hall opened, Natelson’s lab was located on the third floor of the Space Science and Technology Building, “in a lab that was never really meant for physics,” he said. In the new space, the group has a separate room for nanoscale optics experiments. “This is a major improvement, since now my students can take optics data without having to turn off all the lights in the whole lab,” he said. With physics and astronomy and electrical and computer engineering faculty in closer proximity, Natelson said, “It’s very easy for me to go ask their opinions, and my students can interact with theirs much more readily.” Thanks to funding from the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust, Rice’s physics community has a home. As President David Leebron said, “The impact of Brockman Hall goes beyond bricks and mortar. This facility forges new pathways between science and engineering, between theory and practice and between Rice’s first and second centuries.”

“One of the things that modern society has damaged has been thinking. Unfortunately, one of the damaged ideas is that of nature itself. How do we transition from seeing what we call ‘nature’ as an object ‘over there’?”


—Tim Morton,

The author of numerous works on philosophy, culture, literature and ecology, Tim Morton holds the Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice, which was funded during the Centennial Campaign by Lawrence “Larry” Guffey ’90 and his wife, Lucy Mackilligin Guffey, in honor of Larry’s mother. A relative newcomer to the Department of English, Morton describes his new academic home as “a wonderful department of creative, generous people.” Morton was trained as an English literature scholar and holds a Ph.D. from Magdalen College, Oxford University. “My specialty was and is Romanticism — Wordsworth, Austen, Shelley, Byron,” he said. This summer, he presented talks at the Wordsworth Summer Conference and the International Byron Conference, both in the United Kingdom. He was also a keynote speaker at Tuned City Brussels, a conference about sound. His subject? Earworms, “those irritating tunes or parts of tune that seem to live rent-free in our heads.” Morton’s studies include music and food. “That was my early career, a very detailed historical study of food and literature,” he said. Morton’s blog, “Ecology Without Nature,” collects his talks, publications, interviews, reports and musings, both scholarly and personal. Along with department colleague Joseph Campana, associate professor of English literature, Morton received a Rice Arts Initiative Fund grant for this academic year. They’ll create a range of programs, classes and guest artist events to examine ideas of energy, ecology and sustainability, with a local angle. As part of this program, artist Marina Zurkow will visit campus. Zurkow’s work is imaginatively cross-disciplinary and includes animation, sculpture, performance and print. As part of Zurkow’s residency, she’ll help create a meal “in which all the foods are only a degree or two of separation away from the fossil fuel industry,” Morton said. This artist residency and more are all part of an undergraduate course on consumption and consumerism, which Morton is teaching this fall. He thoroughly enjoys his time in the classroom. “Rice undergrads,” he said, “are effervescent.” —LG

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Social Sciences Doctoral Program

Data Made Visible

Although Junia Howell’s formal training to become a sociologist began in fall 2011 when she joined Rice’s new doctoral program, in some ways she has been preparing for this career since childhood. “I grew up in a racially and socioeconomically diverse urban neighborhood, public school and church,” said the Cincinnati native. “Throughout my childhood, my parents, who both work for nonprofit ministries, routinely discussed issues of race and poverty at the dinner table.” During her undergraduate years at Wheaton College, a Christian school with a strong social justice mission, Howell planned at first to major in math. Before too long, she concluded that her academic studies should more closely reflect her social justice activism. Still, after earning a B.A. in sociology, Howell did not march straight into graduate school. “I moved back home and started working with University of Cincinnati sociologists, helping with research, along with running mentoring groups for at-risk urban youth, tutoring and other jobs.” When a former professor called to tell her about Rice’s new graduate program, Howell hesitated. She was not planning on returning to graduate school immediately and was unsure about going to an unranked program. After a campus visit, she knew the faculty’s unique vision for the program fit her research interests perfectly. In fall 2011, Rice welcomed its first cohort of doctoral students in sociology, the culmination of years of effort by the administrators and faculty in both the School of Social Sciences and the department itself, which is chaired currently by Professor Elizabeth Long. Funding for the program came in the form of a $6.4 million grant from Houston Endowment to establish the first doctoral sociology program in Houston. The degree’s concentrations reflect the department’s faculty strengths: race, ethnicity and migration; population health; urban and community issues; and culture and religion. Howell was part of the first cohort of three and now is one of 16 doctoral students. Howell has finished her master’s and taken one comprehensive exam. Her doctoral research investigates how housing policies help or hamper economic mobility among disenfranchised urban populations. She is planning on comparing cities in Europe, Africa and the United States to identify the factors that led to economic mobility amongst urban populations. Her adviser is Michael Emerson, the Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology as well as co-director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. “He’s an amazing scholar and wonderful mentor,” Howell said. —LG

The DAVinCI visualization wall at Rice’s Chevron Visualization Laboratory enables scientists to boost data into three dimensions to probe details in ways that were not possible until now. The 200-inch wall (measured diagonally) lets users display and analyze images of all types, from atoms to galaxies. The futuristic wall of 50-inch high-resolution projection monitors supports two- and three-dimensional visualization needs at extremely high resolution and clarity. Backed by custom graphics engines, the wall allows data to be displayed in three dimensions using modern active stereo shutter glasses, often seen in home 3-D TV systems but far more sophisticated than glasses used at a 3-D movie theater. “The space is flexible enough to accommodate anything from individual users, to meetings with researchers and visiting collaborators, as well as Rice classes,” said Erik Engquist, the lab’s manager (pictured at right). The studio was made possible by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant from the National Science Foundation, with additional support from Chevron, for DAVinCI, which includes a 25-teraFLOP computing cluster. “Adding the visualization wall, which completes the DAVinCI project, gives us another way to help support our researchers and prepare students for increasingly data-intensive industries,” said Jan Odegard, executive director of Rice’s Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology. “The ability to work with scientific visualization on this scale is a valuable skill, and we want our students to be fluent and capable.” “Chevron is proud to continue its support of Rice through our University Partnership Program,” said William Hunter, portfolio manager for university affairs at Chevron. “Our partnership with Rice is a key part of Chevron’s efforts to hire top-quality students necessary to help us meet energy demands around the world.” —MIKE WILLIAMS

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had been on a basketball road trip where you play a Wednesday and a Saturday,” said the former Owls’ captain and, since July 1, chairman of the Rice Board of Trustees. “I think we went to California. We left on Tuesday morning and didn’t get back until Sunday. So I had missed Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. “When I got back, pre-email, there was a note in my box from Professor (John) Parish,” Tudor said. “I was taking a class in Milton with him and the note said, ‘You missed two very important lectures. If you’ll come to my office Monday afternoon at 3, I’ll give them to you.’ And he didn’t mean he’d give me notes. I showed up at his office at 3 and sat there for two hours and he did the lectures. “That’s crazy, right? Where else does that kind of thing happen? Not all that many places. It really does speak to the dedication of Rice faculty to their students. That’s the kind of thing that really sticks with you when you’re a 20-year-old kid.” Tudor exemplifies such dedication to the present day. He’s a builder by nature — his Louisiana family has been in the construction business for four generations — but doesn’t wear a hard hat. Instead, he’s building on his work as a Rice trustee and co-chair (with Susie Morris Glasscock ’62) of the successful $1 billion Centennial Campaign. “Bobby and [his wife] Phoebe command extraordinary respect across Houston as generous and thoughtful philanthropists,” said Rice President David Leebron of Tudor’s appointment earlier this year. “At Rice, we have benefited from his role on the board and leadership of the Centennial Campaign. His experiences as a student– athlete, in the financial world and as a builder of a business make him a great choice to lead the board as we enter our second century, and I am excited to have the opportunity to work closely with him.” Up close, Tudor is easygoing, but his résumé reveals a high-powered achiever. His job as chair-


As an undergraduate, Bobby Tudor ’82 got a firsthand lesson at Rice about going above and beyond the call. man and chief executive officer of Tudor, Pickering, Holt and Co., an energy investment firm he founded in 2007 after nearly 20 years at Goldman Sachs, is more than enough to keep anyone busy, but the Tudors are collectively involved in the Houston Symphony, Rice’s Shepherd School of Music, the United Way, the Houston Public Library, the Society for the Performing Arts and more. Phoebe said taking the reins at Rice University is more than just another way for her husband to serve the community. “I’m really thrilled for him, because I know how much it means to him,” she said. “I feel like most of the things he’s done in his life up to now have come together to create a very well-prepared person for this job. I think all of his life experiences will help him to be a better chairman.” “He certainly brings to the table a deep knowledge of financial issues and a deep knowledge of and connection to the energy industry,” Leebron said. “He’s one of the great experts in an industry that’s vital to the city of Houston and important to Rice.”

Fast break to Rice

Tudor, now 53, welcomed the opportunity to join the board. He felt he never really left Rice, even while working in New York and London for Goldman Sachs. “It’s always somewhat puzzling to me how people completely leave their universities, and their university experience, never to engage again,” Tudor said. “It wouldn’t have occurred to me that was even an option.” That he attended Rice is remarkable considering his family’s connections to Louisiana State University. “I’d grown up as an LSU kid,” Tudor said. “Both my parents were LSU people and I had a younger brother who played basketball at LSU. My older sister had gone to LSU. But we were raised to make our own decisions.” Basketball brought Tudor to Rice’s attention. He excelled in athletics and academics at Pineville High

“I was highly driven by the quality of the teaching. I still feel that what is most distinguishing about Rice academically is the quality of the classroom teaching. It turned me into a lifelong learner, and I also felt personally connected to my teachers at Rice.” Bobby Tudor

School in Louisiana and was heavily recruited. “I could have gone … not anywhere I wanted, but to a lot of places,” he said. “Rice certainly didn’t have a big basketball tradition, but it was building, and that was attractive. And I felt that if I was going to be a really serious student and a really serious athlete, I needed to be in a place that was supportive of both and had examples of people succeeding at both. “Rice had that. There were guys on the team who were that. And I didn’t see that at other places.” Tudor had respectable stats even with such formidable teammates as future NBA star Ricky Pierce and Rice coach Willis Wilson. He is 27th in career points at Rice with 1,018, ninth in career assists with 297 and tied for fourth in minutes played at 3,470. He was team captain twice and won the Bob Quin Award, given to the university’s most outstanding all-around senior male athlete. “Bobby was smooth,” said Dennis Huston, the Gladys Louise Fox Professor of English, who was faculty master of Hanszen College during Tudor’s four years there and counts him among the best athletes he’s taught in 44 years at Rice. “He could move with incredible skill between the world of jocks … and the world of the college and of the classroom. All three of them are really different worlds. That doesn’t happen often. “What made Bobby a really good student was that he was tremendously articulate. He wrote really well. He thought really well.”

Courting success

“My most formative experiences were classroom experiences,” Tudor said. “I was highly driven by the quality of the teaching. I still feel that what is most distinguishing about Rice academically is the quality of the classroom teaching. It turned me into a lifelong learner, and I also felt personally connected to my teachers at Rice.” He distinguished himself as an English and legal

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studies major and was a student representative “David (Leebron) says this a lot: In virtually to the University Committee on Examinations anything we do, whether it’s football or the music and Standing. After graduation, he played proschool or engineering or you name it, our bigfessional basketball in Austria while teaching gest challenge is that we have ambition that far English on a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for outstrips our size. We’re a very small research two years before entering law school at Tulane. university basically trying to do everything.” “I’m a big advocate of liberal arts education,” Tudor kept Rice’s tradition of high aspiraTudor said. “When you’re asked the age-old tion in mind while planning the campaign. question ‘Gosh, what are you going to do with “There was plenty of doubt,” he said. “When an English degree?’ the answer is, ‘Anything I we set the goal, based on the giving history at want.’ The value was I learned to read critically. Rice and the current alumni base, we felt really I learned to write well. I learned to think on my confident about getting to $800 million. We felt feet. I learned to probe and ask questions. I got pretty confident that we could get to $900 mileducated. I think that’s what you’re supposed to lion. We didn’t know where the last $100 million do when you go to college.” was going to come from. That gave him the will to veer away from the “On a per-graduate basis — per capita, if you legal life. “It was good training and interesting to will — a billion dollars makes it one of the largest me,” he said. “But I decided halfway through law university campaigns that’s ever been done. But school that I didn’t want to be a practicing lawwe felt that stretch was completely consistent yer.” Opting for a career in finance, he found his with Rice’s ambition and to do anything other way to Goldman Sachs and rose to partner before than stretch would betray that ambition.” he, Phoebe and their three children returned to The need for buildings was a driving force, Houston from London. he said. “The priorities were set by the deans, Tudor had already been a member of the and by David [Leebron] and the central adminHumanities Advisory Council and president of istration, and in many cases those priorities did Athletics’ “R” Association when Jim Crownover involve buildings,” Tudor said. “A real home ’65, then chairman of the board, called upon him for social sciences was important. Our physics to join the trustees. department was scattered all over the campus David Leebron “I knew Bobby was very committed to and in a way that was suboptimal for a first-rate thoughtful about Rice,” Crownover said. “He department.” was good at the give-and-take you need to have The Tudors have done their part. They kicked as part of being on a board. He could listen. He could respond. He off a long-wished-for renovation of the athletics field house that was very engaging.” now bears their name with a $7 million gift in 2007. But even with Tudor’s relative youth was seen as a positive. “I was in my early plans afoot for a new opera house, improvements to the football 40s and it’s very important to have a range of ages on the board, stadium and a new arts center, all on the western end of campus, because people’s experiences at Rice actually did differ by period,” and an upgraded Rice Memorial Center, Tudor said future priorhe said. “I was happy to be asked by Jim and dove right in. I’ve ities “are much more likely to be programmatic.” learned a lot just watching him.” “He represents the passing of the torch to a new generation,” Leebron noted. “Bobby brings connections to a wide range of constituencies at Rice and embodies our aspirations.” A part of success, Tudor said, is to never be satisfied. “That As chair, Tudor will oversee the process of fulfilling the Centennial being said, I’ve been very fortunate to have done a lot of things that Campaign’s commitment to turn students into leaders, solve probhave brought me satisfaction,” he said. “Success can be measured lems through research and foster partnerships with institutions in a million different ways. In some sense the easiest to measure is in Houston and around the globe. The challenge of fundraising to financial, and I’ve certainly had financial success. But that’s only attain those goals never ends, he said. one measure. And I would argue, in the overall scheme of things, “We joke that never has such a rich university felt so poor,” he it’s not the most important. said. “People look at our $4.7 billion endowment and say, ‘My gosh, “The way I think about it is: Am I leaving the things I touch, the why can’t you do absolutely anything you want to do? You’re a small institutions I’m involved with, my community, my family, better place and you have $4.7 billion?’ That kind of question reflects a than I found them? And are they more sustainably better? That’s lack of understanding of the funding model and how it works. the ultimate measure.” —Mike Williams

“He represents the passing of the torch to a new generation. Bobby brings connections to a wide range of constituencies at Rice and embodies our aspirations.”

High aspiration

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Stories from the rice community


Nancy Henry Affectionately nicknamed the “Office Goddess,” Brown College Coordinator Nancy Henry is the students’ touch point for all of the everyday activities at Brown — from distributing packages from home to helping with a lost room key — and offers advice on everything from researching a campus contact to how to store belongings for the summer. Nancy has worked at Rice since 1985. After stints with several departments across the university, including the Marching Owl Band office and the Rice Design Alliance, she settled in at Brown 23 years ago.

You have to be a self-starter in this job. I do something different every day. I come into the office and think, “Okay, what needs to be done, this time of year, right now.” But an email or a student walking in the door can change all of that. The next thing I know, I’m glittering a Mardi Gras mask — my office is constantly Photo: Tommy LaVergne

covered with glitter — or making a chart for something. It’s such extremes. It’s a blast. Anytime all 11 college coordinators meet for one reason or another, we discuss the best ways to get things done at the colleges. Emails come around saying, for instance, “Who do you use for tuning your college’s piano?” Everyone

chimes in. I have a file that has information on all the sources I have developed over the years. I have shared that with the other coordinators. We’re very open to any new way of putting out a better document or keeping better track of information. In the summer, we get together with Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, Information Technology, the Office of International Students and Scholars, First Year Programs, and Housing and Dining to close out the last year and start up next year. The students are the most enjoyable part of my job. They’ll stand in my office door and ask a question. I invite them in and make an effort to get to know them. I eat meals with them in the commons, but the office is the place where I get to know them the best. At lunch they’re bouncing off their friends. In here, they’ve got to be who they are. They’re all just so interesting. It’s like being part of a new person blossoming and becoming. I also love to keep in touch with students when they’re on vacation or a semester abroad, or even after they’ve graduated from Rice. I collect the postcards they send me from all over the world and put them on my postcard wall. When I retire, I’ll take those precious mementos with me. I haven’t counted, but I’ll bet there are 200 up there. Picking out a favorite postcard would be like picking out a favorite student. I could never do it. They all mean a lot to me — the fact that they took the time on a trip to send them. Because I’ve always enjoyed humor, this is the perfect place to be. A wonderful Brown tradition that I especially enjoy is the competition between the seven floors in the Brown Tower when they decorate for the holidays. I have seen some of the funniest and most creative holiday decorations you can imagine. One year one floor chose “A Salvador Dalí Christmas” as their theme. They made the floor on the ceiling and put a chair up there. There was furniture on the wall and the floor was all wonky. Even when they’re not elaborate, they’re always so clever. It’s been wonderful to see students put so much energy into making this an interesting place when the reason they’re here is to get the best education they can. But some people have that outward motivation to focus beyond academics. That’s what it takes to make this place run. —As told to Jenny West Rozelle ’00 Fa l l 2 0 1 3 · R i c e M a g a z i n e  


Arts & Letters

Creative Ideas and Endeavors

Houston’s Faces on View at Rice Gallery


ice Art Gallery’s fall season opened recently with “Marshland,” a new installation by street artist Gaia. This work combines painting, drawing, printmaking and collage to express the artist’s larger-than-life impression of Houston’s sprawling urban landscape, increasingly international demographic and Rice’s relationship to the city. The exhibition includes a floor-to-ceiling mural layered with images and symbols of Houston and painted on three gallery walls. A sculptural colonnade painted to mimic the formal architectural style of Rice’s Academic Quadrangle includes giant portraits of students, staff and faculty who were interviewed by Gaia during his residency. Gaia is part of an international network of self-identified street artists who view themselves as activists and use their work as a way

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to draw attention to and stimulate renewal of deteriorating urban neighborhoods. A recent graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art, Gaia is part of a local collective of Baltimore artists called Wall Hunters, whose “unsanctioned” art seeks to identify, embarrass and sometimes infuriate those absentee landlords whose vacant buildings embody what The Baltimore Sun recently called “one of Baltimore’s most visible and long-standing problems.” Gaia has had residencies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, and at Acrylic Walls in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. “Marshland” will be on view through Dec. 8, 2013. Rice Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday until 7 p.m., and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. Admission to the gallery is always free. To see more images, visit

Gaia, “Marshland,” 2013 Photo: Nash Baker ©

On the Bookshelf “Art Held Hostage: The Battle Over the Barnes Collection” by John Anderson ’76 (W.W. Norton & Company, 2013) Anderson presents the book as a piece of journalism documenting the events surrounding the Barnes Collection; this reprinted edition includes a new epilogue. The author has written three works of nonfiction and currently lives in Ossining, N.Y.

“Cold Blue Steel” by Sarah Cortez ’72 (Texas Review Press, 2013) This beautifully composed book holds 50 poems describing the life of a cop in Houston. Cortez has written and edited various works and is the winner of the PEN Texas Literary Award in poetry.

“Buildings of Texas: Central, South, and Gulf Coast” by Gerald Moorhead ’69 with James W. Steely, W. Dwayne Jones, Anna Mod, John C. Ferguson, Cheryl Caldwell Ferguson, Mario L. Sánchez and Stephen Fox ’73 (University of Virginia Press, 2013) This is one of two books (the second being published in 2016) that will detail architecture in various Texas regions; with contributions from Stephen Fox, Rice lecturer of architecture. Moorhead also has been a lecturer of architecture at Rice. “Where the Negroes Are Masters: An African Port in the Era of the Slave Trade” by Randy J. Sparks ’88 (Harvard University Press, 2013) Sparks presents in detail the role of African men and women in the port of Annamoboe and the various interactions within the port’s slave trade system. The author is a professor in the Department of History at Tulane University.

“Male Homosexuality in West Germany: Between Persecution and Freedom, 1945–69” by Clayton Whisnant ’93 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) Whisnant describes the importance of post-Nazi Germany on the history of homosexuality. He is an associate professor of European history at Wofford College.

“Rite” performed by Jon Kimura Parker (Hawkes & Sons [London] Ltd., 2013) This CD presents a beautiful rendering of the classical pieces “The Rite of Spring” and “Petrouchka.” Parker is a professor of piano at the Shepherd School of Music and will be one of the faculty artists to solo with the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra when it goes on tour in February.

Q&A Alessandra L. González, author of “Islamic Feminism in Kuwait: The Politics and Paradoxes” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) How does this modern suffrage movement in Kuwait differ from previous movements? The women’s suffrage movement in Kuwait challenges Western models of feminism in that it united traditionalists and progressives under one central issue: women’s political participation. It also brought together liberal and Islamist women’s rights activists, and that has paved the way for future social issues regarding women’s rights that were not previously addressed. Some of these issues include women’s economic independence, reform of personal status laws, increased educational and professional opportunities, increased political participation, health care and personal security. Do you believe the Kuwaiti government granting women’s suffrage in 2005 has affected, or will affect, other Islamic countries? The women’s movement in Kuwait is unique in many ways, but the increased presence of Kuwaiti women in parliament and in the government ministries has affected the perceptions of women as capable political leaders in a positive way. Other countries in the region have their own balances of power to contend with, but Kuwait’s relative freedom of expression is one that allows a genuine debate among parliamentary members and gives Kuwaiti citizens a belief that their voices will be heard and reflected in legislation. What would you say is the largest or most notable paradox in Islamic feminism? The most notable paradox illustrated by Islamic feminism in Kuwait is that a feminism within conservative cultural and religious constraints is not only possible, but thriving. Why did you write this book? As a sociologist, I saw a gap in the academic literature on religion and gender between Western notions of feminism and the indigenous movements emerging out of majority Muslim contexts. I wrote the book as a way to open up research at the intersection of religion, gender and politics. Alessandra González ’05 is a 2013–14 William E. Simon Postdoctoral Research Associate in Religion and Public Life in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. —Leticia Treviño ’16

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Sports News and Profiles

Rice Hires New Athletics Director Joe Karlgaard is Rice University’s next director of athletics, recreation and lifetime fitness, Rice president David W. Leebron announced in early September.


arlgaard previously served as senior associate athletics director for development at Stanford University. Prior to Stanford, Karlgaard was athletics director at Oberlin College from 2005 to 2011. He started at Rice Oct. 7. “The academic values of a place like Rice are important to me. It’s important to me that the work in the classroom takes precedent. There are a limited number of institutions that fit with my background. And Rice is one of those,” Karlgaard said in an interview with Rice video producer Brandon Martin. “I also think Rice

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is undervalued athletically, and so there’s opportunity here. That’s exciting to me. When you combine these two elements, it’s the perfect fit.” At Stanford, Karlgaard was responsible for helping set the strategic direction for a $90 million annual budget and led the Athletics Department’s efforts in delivering the greatest single-year increase in the school’s fundraising history, to $52 million in 2012. In his time at Oberlin, Karlgaard led an unparalleled rise Photo: Tommy LaVergne

in varsity sports. Oberlin set institutional records in the North Coast Athletic Conference All-Sports Trophy in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011. During his tenure, 12 of 22 varsity programs achieved their highest conference placement in NCAC history. Eleven Oberlin athletes were named conference players of the year and more than 400 were named to all-conference teams. “Joe brings just a great combination of experiences,” Leebron said. “He was a student–athlete, a coach, an athletics director and a senior associate athletic director at Stanford, a school which has a lot in common with Rice in terms of high aspirations both for academics and athletics and a true commitment to student–athletes and their ultimate success in the world.” Karlgaard said he would be spending his first 90 days “listening to people, getting out and meeting people, finding out what has made this place tick for more than 100 years.” Rice trustee J.D. Bucky Allshouse ’71 called this decision a “crucial hire,” noting that the position has been under a great deal of scrutiny, and many Rice supporters were weighing in on the type of person Rice should hire. Of Karlgaard, Allshouse said, “He’s young, energetic, passionate and knowledgeable. When you put all those things together, you’ve got a winner.” “Rice Athletics is filled with potential, only some of which has been realized,” Karlgaard said. “My goal is to fully tap the energies, passion and resources of the Rice community to build a program of broad national prominence.” A Stanford graduate with a B.A. in history, Karlgaard was a four-year letter winner as part of Stanford’s NCAA champion track and field program. He received a Ph.D. and master’s degree in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota, where he also served as assistant coach for the men’s track and field and cross-country teams from 2000 to 2003. In his final year as a coach at Minnesota, the Golden Gophers won the Big Ten outdoor championship with the highest team score in conference history. Karlgaard and his wife, Jill, have one son, Charlie. Photos: Rice University Athletics

Calling All Spectators There’s plenty of competition and athleticism on view this fall for Rice Owls fans — tennis, soccer, volleyball, cross-country and football are in conference play. Find a schedule here: calendar/events.

At press time, Rice’s football team, led by head coach David Bailiff, was 3–0 in conference play, with a dramatic come-from-behind win over Florida Atlantic (18–14) and a thrilling overtime win against the University of Tulsa (30–27). Soccer head coach Nicky Adams is coming off a C-USA 2012 regular season conference co-championship. With many team members returning, the team was ranked No. 2 in the C-USA preseason by the league’s coaches, behind Colorado College. Men’s cross-country is off to a strong start, having won the Rice Invitational Meet as well as a dual meet against Houston Baptist University Sept. 13 and placing second in the Rim Rock Classic Oct. 5. The women’s cross-country team placed second in both of its first two meets.

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Parting Words

John Graves: an appreciation by Bill Broyles ’66

This brief, heartfelt tribute to John Graves ’42 by Bill Broyles ’66 was published via two days after Graves’ death July 30, 2013. Broyles takes very few words to express a relationship born from shared experience and matured through a shared vocation that called for paying attention to the world around them. We have to be thankful to Broyles for coaxing Graves to contribute to Texas Monthly, and in so doing, sharing a voice particular to a time and place in Texas with a new generation. —LG


e first published John Graves in Texas Monthly in 1974. It was a selection from “Hardscrabble,” his book about his life on the place he and his wife Jane and his daughters Sally and Helen carved out of, and into, the limestone and scrub brush of the Upper Brazos country. That’s what he called it, not his “ranch,” but his “place.” And that’s what it was, his place in the world, the piece of it that belonged to him, to his family, the land he walked and fished and hunted and worked every day, just as stubbornly and carefully as he wrote about it. Not too long after we published that first excerpt I went up to Glen Rose to see him. I wasn’t yet thirty and John was in his fifties, and he was already the crusty, sly, and courtly self-described old coot he remained the rest of his life. That was some forty years ago, and today I’m much older than he was then, and it’s a wonder to me that he took me seriously. I flattered myself in thinking we had some things in common. We’d both been marines and had fought wars on the shores of the Pacific. My grandmother had taught school a few miles up the road back in the twenties and met and married my grandfather there. John had gone to Rice, and so had I, and so had my parents. John had been my mother’s teaching assistant in biology class before he went to war. We walked the land with the dogs, we worked a little on a rock wall, then we sat on the screen porch and I asked John about writing a column for Texas Monthly. “What about?” he asked me. “This,” I said, “just keep writing about this.” “I said it all, I’m not sure I really have anything more to say about it. And you don’t want me anyway. I’d be like an armadillo who wandered out on an Interstate.” I stammered something about he’d written what he’d done yesterday, but he hadn’t written about what he was going to do tomorrow, and the next day, and that’s what I was interested in. I knew that all of us at Texas Monthly, young kids really, needed a literary godfather, a real writer whose presence could anchor and inspire us.  John said he’d see what he could come up with, and he ended up writing a lovely column through the rest of the seventies. Those pieces later made up the book “From a Limestone Ledge.” Back in 2000, I introduced John at his eightieth birthday celebration. I tried to express what John and his writing meant to me. Here’s what I said:  

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The man has been to war and been wounded in terrible combat. The wound has taken half his sight and he sees less but also perhaps he sees more. Anyway he has already seen too many people die and before his first book is finished will see his first daughter born. When his wounds heal and they give him a new eye he wanders the world and lives in places with names that sound like music and whose history is written in every building, centuries of it. That man returns to a part of Texas where history has rested lightly and left not a trace. He takes a canoe and points it into the current of a river that is about to be dammed and changed forever, the way the man and his world have been. Small wonder that after so much turmoil he is drawn to quiet, after so much history and so many crowds he yearns for solitude, for something that could be his and his alone. A piece of the natural world. A piece of Texas. Ernest Hemingway never mentions World War I in his classic story “Big Two-hearted River,” but it is there, up in the thickets, beneath the surface, back in the deep water. In “Goodbye to a River” John Graves doesn’t dwell on his war, either, may even claim that he’d laid those demons to rest in his wanderings through Mexico and Europe, but for any one who has also seen combat it is there on every page. The brief fleetingness of life, the savoring of it, the love for what small fragile piece of it is yours, that gratitude just for life, for living: the combat veteran has all that buried in him like shrapnel working its way to the surface. That too is with John when he sets his canoe into the current of the Brazos and heads downstream. And when he steps out he goes home and then, with the tools of his trade, words crafted together, one by one, he takes that stretch of land and the people — Indians, Anglos, Mexicans — who coursed over it and of course himself too, and sets them down on his pages. Part colloquial, part literary, like all his work, the book is robust and rural and deeply aesthetic, all at once. His tools bring a vanished past and a vanishing present to robust life.  The strong young man who paddled his canoe down the Brazos is 80 now. A genuine old coot, still full of beans and listening for the sand-hill cranes flying overhead, but feeling his age. The river flows on, like time, sweeping all its sons away. But John’s book is forever. It will be read as long as books are read. It is his gift to life. To all of us. I will miss you John. I loved your writing, but I loved you even more.   —Bill Broyles ’66 Reprinted with permission from Texas Monthly.

Photo: Tommy LaVergne

Leslie Williamson ’72 was in a real predicament when she visited the office of Harold “Bud” Rorschach Jr., the chair of the physics department. Chemistry and physics were scheduled for the same hour, the aspiring medical student explained, and she simply had to take both. Bud listened carefully, smiled and gave her the last answer she expected. “Sign up for chemistry,” he said. “I’ll teach you physics one-on-one.”

  After Bud passed away in 1993, Leslie, then a successful otolaryngologist, wrote to Bud’s wife, Ginny, and relayed her story. “Bud hadn’t told me what he’d done for Leslie,” Ginny remarked. “To him, he was just doing his job.”

Leslie Williamson ’72, M.D.

What Bud considered doing his job, his students classified as changing lives. During his 41 years at Rice, Bud won the George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching twice and exerted such a profound influence on his students that many of them, including Leslie, have made substantial gifts to Rice to honor their beloved professor. Ginny is touched that her husband’s students continue to make gifts in his name. She, of course, has done the same. This year, she established a new endowment — the Dr. Harold E. Rorschach, Jr. Endowed Undergraduate Research Award in Physics. Funded with a qualified charitable distribution from her IRAs, Ginny’s gift will perpetuate Bud’s legacy of providing Rice students with the best possible education.

Harold “Bud” Rorschach Jr.

Ginny Rorschach

Are you interested in establishing a legacy of your own at Rice? If you are 70 1/2 and act before Dec. 31, you may direct a tax-free distribution of up to $100,000 from your IRA. Your gift also will count toward your minimum required distribution. To learn more, or to discuss other immediate and deferred gift planning options, please call the Office of Gift Planning at 713-348-4624.

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Rice University, Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892

John Graves, Glen Rose

This photo of John Graves ’42 in Glen Rose was taken by Tommy LaVergne, Rice University photographer, for an extended profile that appeared in the spring 1995 Sallyport. The story, titled “When the Work Comes Right” and written by then-senior writer David Medina, beautifully traces Graves’ youth and college days at Rice to his post-WW II travel and his singular

journey to becoming a distinguished man of letters. Graves died July 30. Read Bill Broyles’ appreciation of his friend and mentor on Page 48. A copy of the Sallyport story can be downloaded here:

Photo: Tommy LaVergne

Rice Magazine | Fall 2013  

The Magazine of Rice University SERVICE LESSONS A helping hand — and so much more.

Rice Magazine | Fall 2013  

The Magazine of Rice University SERVICE LESSONS A helping hand — and so much more.