“The Center of Student Life,” 1954

All the recent chatter about the current “don’t walk through the Sallyport” tradition had me thinking over break about how the students spent so much time there at various points in Rice’s history. I knew I’d read something about this somewhere and after poking around in some things I have in my office at home I found it.

What I was looking for was in a 1954 report that was prepared at Rice and given out to the members of the Rice Associates. (This group seems to have been brought to Rice by President Houston, who had experience with a similar organized group of campus supporters at Cal Tech.)

Most of what’s in here is mundane (although often quite useful) material: enrollment figures, revenues and expenses over time, number of books in the library, a potted history of the origins of the institution, and so on. A few of the sections, though, are bit more unusual. The one I’m interested in today is called “Centers of Student Life” and it carefully explains something unexpected: where the students hung out and how their hang out spots have moved around over the 40 or so years of Rice’s existence. Honestly, I don’t know why they included this at all but since it’s impossible to summarize without losing the flavor of the thing, here it is:

I’m not sure I have any conclusion other than it’s relatively easy to get people to move themselves around.

Bonus: “Whoever you are, you are awesome!”

A sharp-eyed colleague noticed this yesterday. It was, sadly, melted.

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12 Responses to “The Center of Student Life,” 1954

  1. grungy1973 says:

    Just where were classes held at the very beginning?

  2. almadenmike says:

    Two copies of this 1954 “Historical and Factual Report” are shown in the Fondren Library catalog with the call number of: LD4711.R32 H58

    (Source: http://alexandria.rice.edu/uhtbin/cgisirsi/?ps=pOOOQLMhfE/FONDREN/154990070/9 )

  3. I would be interested in seeing a plan or photos of how the original basement lounge and snack bar space worked in Fondren. It’s never not been stacks since I’ve been at Rice, so it’s a little difficult to imagine any other way.

  4. Pat Martin says:

    Continuing Studies and the Rice ESL program were housed in the basement of Fondren in the early 1980s, headed by Mary McIntire. I’m guessing other entities also occupied the space after the student lounge moved to the RMC.

  5. Carolyn Brewer says:

    Fondren Basement housed The Roost, where short-order cooks prepared hamburgers, etc., Campus Bookstore, Ofices for Thresher & Campanile, bridge tables, many Eames “Potato Chip” Lounge Chairs all through the space. I cannot say if there were any other activities in the basement or not, probably so but I do not know. It was the center for those of us who lived off-campus (as it was before girls dorms on campus.)

  6. Karen says:

    I know there are some pictures of the Fondren basement and Roost setup in the early 50s Campaniles. That’s the first time I heard about it and saw pictures. I have the books, and could probably find them and post this weekend if no one else has any pictures. As I recall, I think there was a floor plan as well, but I don’t remember for sure.

  7. almadenmike says:

    Gene Pratt posted some information about “The Roost” in a couple of comments to the Feb. 21, 2012, Rice History Corner post: https://ricehistorycorner.com/2012/02/21/next-week-in-rice-history-1952/

    And three photos taken at The Roost in 1954 appeared in the Sept. 4, 2014 edition: https://ricehistorycorner.com/2014/09/04/around-campus-fall-1954/

  8. James Medford says:

    Speaking of Campaniles, Fondren Library used to have a complete set from 1916 through the present, accessible back in the stacks up on the 3rd or 4th floor. At some point all of the Campaniles from the years 1919 – 1965 (roughly) were removed. Anyone have any idea why?

  9. marmer01 says:

    So, if there was a short order grill in the basement, I guess Fondren smelled like Sammy’s?

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