“with distinction,” 1916

I mentioned yesterday that Ed Dupree was the first student to enroll in the Institute. What also bears mentioning is that the first woman to enroll at Rice was his classmate, Hattie Lel Red. The distinction of being first was recognized in photos taken at the 1916 commencement ceremonies:


Left to right are English Professor Stockton Axson, mathematician Griffith Evans, Dupree, Dr. Lovett and finally Hattie Lel Red. The diploma she holds in her left hand now hangs on the wall in the back room of the Woodson.  Look closely and you’ll see that “with distinction” is written in President Lovett’s own hand:


It’s a small thing, I know, and from a very different time, but I still find it somehow moving.

Bonus: Here she is posing that same day with her friend and classmate, Ruth Robinson, who soon married Rice engineering professor J.H. Pound. Both taught for many years in the Houston public schools, Miss Red at Lamar and Mrs. Pound at Lanier.

Red and Robinson Commencement 1916 Knapp



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7 Responses to “with distinction,” 1916

  1. effegee says:

    The somewhat uncommon spelling of the Hattie Lel Red’s last name caused me to see if she was related to Samuel Clark Red for whom HISD named Red Elementary in southwest Houston (which I attended from 1958-1963). He was her father by his first wife, Katherine Rodgers Groesbeck.

    That led to an interesting coincidence that relates to your story. The Handbook of Texas Online states that Samuel Clark Red “in 1885 was the first student to receive a B.A. from the University of Texas” [1].

    [1] Merle Weir, “RED, SAMUEL CLARK,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fre09), accessed May 08, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I think I read somewhere that it wasn’t really a coincidence, but that Dr. Red worked it out beforehand. I can’t recall where I saw that but I will keep it in mind as I go through things.

  2. She was the one who invented the “Lel Red Riding Hood.” 😉

  3. Lou Ann Montana says:

    Very cute Marty!
    I too find the handwritten addition very special. The combination of penmanship and personal touch is wonderful…

  4. I like that the University has kept this elegant design through all the years. Good design never goes out of style. Is it known who designed the Rice sheepskin?

  5. Pingback: “initiative, courage, character, and independence” | Rice History Corner

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