With the centennial all around us, I’ve heard a lot of people marveling about how far Rice has come from its early days. It really is astounding to look back at how little we began with. A dorm and a commons, a building for classrooms and administrative offices, and a single laboratory building and powerhouse.
That’s what was here when President Lovett gave his famous speech at the formal opening of the Rice Institute on October 12, 1912. Quite properly, he looked far beyond the things of that day and laid out his inspiring and visionary plans for the creation of a great university.
But in truth, what we had here in those early days already had greatness in it. We had a faculty—small, it’s true—but they were a faculty of scholars not schoolmasters, dedicated to the discovery and transmission of new knowledge.
We had a fledgling library, a few labs and classrooms. They had chalk in them.
We had students. Most of them had little idea what they were getting into, but many of them loved learning. They thrived in the labs and classrooms and a few grew to become scholars themselves.
In October 1912, Rice was already a community built around teaching and learning. Whatever greatness we can claim today lies in those same things.