The Houstonian Constitution, 1946

Not at all surprisingly, after William V. Houston became Rice’s second president the way the Institute conducted its business underwent fairly dramatic change. Until that point it had been run by Dr. Lovett with a kind of authority that no successor could possibly have (or would probably even want). While looking for something in some old Faculty Council papers this morning I came across this document, promulgated by Dr. Houston in April, 1946. Short and sweet, it would be the basis for the university’s governance for the next thirteen years:


There are two things here that are especially interesting. First, the faculty is given far more authority–and responsibility–for the nuts and bolts decision making required to run a university. What you don’t see here is that President Houston immediately created a new Executive Committee, comprised of himself and four other faculty members: Alan McKillop from English, Holmes Richter from Chemistry, Mr. Ryon from Civil Engineering and Harry Weiser, the Dean of the Institute as well as head of the Chemistry Department. The membership of this committee changed somewhat over time (although I think Richter was always on it) but for all practical purposes it ran Rice until just before the end of Houston’s presidency. It was disbanded and replaced by the Faculty Council in 1959.

Second, and possibly of interest only to someone who has read the minutes of every single Rice faculty meeting, this document is the genesis of the “Second Reading Rule” which provided much exasperation and hilarity over the years.

Bonus: I went for my flu shot today and I got a lollipop for being brave.


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6 Responses to The Houstonian Constitution, 1946

  1. effegee says:

    No lollies at the HEB but they have quadrivalent vaccine.

  2. Bill Peebles, Hanszen '70 says:

    I tried to think of the “Masterson Affair” of the late 60’s in the context of President Houston’s memorandum but what hair I have left started falling out so I quit.

  3. Francis Eugene "Gene" Pratt, Rice Institute, 1956 says:

    Does “brave” imply no lacrymosity?

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