Rice University, founded as William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Art, and Science in 1892, opened 1912 in the Museum District of Houston, Texas. Rice is considered one of the nation's elite universities (often touted the "Harvard of the South"), consistently ranking amongst the top eschelon of national research universities. It is also distinguished by having one of the most selective student bodies in the nation, as well as one of the highest endowments (>$3 billion).
William Marsh Rice (1816-1900), who made his fortune in Texas in the mid-19th century, left the bulk of his estate to the founding of a free institute in Houston and until 1964 Rice did not charge tuition. Even today, Rice's tuition is considerably lower than that of other prestigious universities.
The architecture of the university is laid out in numerous quadrangles, and is designed in a neo-Byzantine style by world-reknowned architects.
The Academic Quad is centered around the memorial to William Rice, and includes the Administrative buildings (through which the Sallyport passes), the Library, and the Physics, Language, Architecture, and Humanities buildings.
The Engineering Quad is centered around the sculpture 45/90/180, and includes the Electrical Engineering building, the Mechanical Engineering building, the Chemistry building, the Computer Science building, and several laboratories.
Among other things, Rice is noted for its college system, similar to those found in some older English schools, and matched only by Yale in the United States. The nine colleges (Jones, Brown, Martel, Will Rice, Weiss, Hanszen, Sid Rich, Baker and Lovett) include residential and dining facilities, social organizations and student government, as well as faculty members and alumni and community associates.
Rice's sports teams are called the Owls. They participate in the NCAA's Division I-A, and in the Western Athletic Conference. In 2005, Rice will leave the WAC and join Conference USA. The Rice Owls Baseball team won Rice's first national title in any major sport in 2003. Rice football is known for the MOB, or Marching Owl Band, which does not march during halftime but rather performs skits and runs from formation to formation (a scatter band).
Prof Robert Curl and Prof Richard Smalley gave Rice University its first Nobel Prize (Chemistry) in 1996 for their discovery of fullerenes, although other Nobel Laureates have had affiliations with the University, both as alumni and researchers. The first artificial heart was developed a couple of years ago at Rice.
Some Famous Alumni
Rice celebrated its 75th (demisesquicentennial) anniversary in 1989.