Our Undergraduate Mission
A note from President Reginald DesRoches
By Reginald DesRoches
The start of the fall semester is one of my favorite times at Rice. It represents new beginnings, possibilities, and hope and excitement for the future. It’s also a spirited reminder of Rice’s foundational pillar — our beloved undergraduate program.
Watching our undergraduate matriculants move into their residential colleges and receive warm greetings from their peers, professors and the Rice community is truly heartwarming. The culture of care we boast about year-round is on full display.
Rice’s supportive community and residential colleges, along with our fantastic faculty and undergraduate programs, are some of the main reasons why students from across the world want to come to Rice. Our admissions are an excellent indicator of this.
The Class of 2027 is the most selective in Rice’s history, with fewer than 8% of the 31,000 applicants being accepted. It is also one of the most diverse, with the fall class having no racial majority — 32% of the class is from underrepresented minority groups, and another 13% are international students. They represent 53 states and territories and more than 47 countries.
For the next several years, these students will embark on a journey that will shape them intellectually, as a person and as a future professional. They will take classes from national and international experts in their fields. They will live in a supportive residential community with their peers. They will exchange experiences and ideas with people from diverse backgrounds and who come from places across the world. They will be involved in discussions that challenge their beliefs, while others reaffirm the beliefs that they hold near and dear to them. And, finally, they will be challenged to achieve excellence in all they do so that they leave Rice equipped and inspired to transform lives.
Rice’s undergraduate program is one of the university’s best assets. Our foundation in this area is strong. As president, my job moving forward is to continue to build on that foundation to create an even better experience for our students.
A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “Universities Can’t Do Everything” highlights how many top universities today are spending a great deal of time trying to please multiple, often contradictory, constituencies. Meanwhile, less attention is being paid to what the same universities tout as their No. 1 priority — the welfare and education of undergraduates.
I am proud to say that at Rice, undergraduate education has always been and will remain core to the university’s mission. Yes, we want to grow Rice’s research enterprise and graduate programs. And, yes, we want to focus on innovation and partnerships that will accelerate solutions that will change the world. These things will only further enhance our undergraduate programs and the experiences of our undergraduate students, as they are truly synergistic.
Rice’s undergraduate program is one of the university’s best assets. Our foundation in this area is strong. As president, my job moving forward is to continue to build on that foundation to create an even better experience for our students. The question is, how do we do this in the context of today’s higher education landscape and the complexities of the world we live in?
We will continue to focus on providing a rigorous and well-rounded education, one that provides a broad-based liberal arts education that complements our disciplinary strengths. Students will be exposed to the complexities facing society and be equipped with the knowledge, critical thinking skills, ethical leadership skills and empathy to address them.
At no point will we lose sight of our most cherished principles, both present and future. A quality undergraduate education that equips individuals to enact positive change in their lives and the lives of others remains our steadfast commitment.
Illustration by Paddy Mills