Wiess Hall was dedicated late on a Sunday afternoon in the spring of 1950. From what I can tell it was the usual thing–a small crowd gathered near the new building, donors were thanked and President Houston made a few remarks about the future and the role of this new residence hall in the anticipated growth of the university. Then Edgar Odell Lovett spoke. His words were classic Lovett—accurate, carefully modulated and yet barely hinting at something very deep just out of sight. I can’t help but wonder what he must have felt, putting the name of his friend and former student, dead far too young, on this odd-looking new building.
Whatever he was thinking, his brief talk gives a clear picture of Harry Wiess, so I’m putting the whole thing up here. Wiess was in my estimation one of the three or four most important trustees in the history of Rice. He was able, intelligent and extremely ambitious for the university. His early death deprived Rice of one of its most vigorous leaders at a critical moment.
Here’s a lovely portrait of Harry Wiess, taken by the photographer Vera Prasilova Scott, wife of Rice Physics professor Arthur Scott: