“a plan of growth, enrichment, and expansion,” 1964

We recently got back to Houston after our annual July trip to Washington state. While I was up there I played a lot of golf but I also had a lot of time to think and specifically to think about Rice. The transition of presidential administrations always prompts re-evaluations of the institution’s future, especially of our mission and how to best pursue it. You always think of Dr. Lovett and his expansive vision in these circumstances but this time I found myself focused on the expansion that took place in the 1960s under the leadership of President Pitzer and Board chairman George R. Brown. I know I’ve mentioned the Ten Year Plan here before but the documents they worked from are too long and detailed for a blog post. So I dug up this 1964 press release that describes the plan, which was in my opinion a model of both clear thinking about goals and clear communication. It’s aggressive for sure, entailing major expansion of the student body, the graduate program, and the research enterprise, all revolving around the recruitment of “a faculty that will be without parallel.”

How it all played out is a long story, but it’s safe to say that this plan, with both its successes and failures, was the genesis of the modern Rice University:

Nobody asked me but I’d sure like to see something analogous happen soon.

Bonus: I was walking on campus a couple days ago and came upon a guy patching up an outside wall of Cohen House. Of course I went over to see what it was all about–turned out to be water damage.

We were standing quite close to the building and in the course of our conversation I happened to look straight up at its top. I saw something there I’d never noticed because you have to be in this somewhat odd position to get a look at it.

Zoom in and you can see this beautiful intricate carving in a place where people rarely look. This was so surprising and so moving that I teared up a little.

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4 Responses to “a plan of growth, enrichment, and expansion,” 1964

  1. Paul Hester says:

    Melissa, as i suspected all along, you are a radical. Many thanks for bringing this to our attention at this particular moment. Please give more details of the long story about how it all played out in the time of Brown and Pitzer. Always appreciate your insights, your curiosity, and your photographs too.

  2. Keith Cooper says:

    I love the fact that the upper cornice is so much more elaborate than the lower one. Is the lower roof original, or part of the addition?

  3. Lou Ann Montana says:

    Welcome back to Texas, Melissa! And thank you for a very interesting, intriguing and timely post. As Paul noted, I would love to hear more about how it played out. I specifically wonder if the Shepherd School would be considered a failure of the 10-year plan. 😉

  4. Bob Roosth says:

    interesting that nothing I see here anticipates the changes coming from civil rights legislation passed a few months previously.

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