My personal debt to Rice University . . . is quite fundamental,” 1963

F. Ellis Johnson was one of the original members of the Rice faculty. He arrived in Houston in 1912 to take up his first teaching position as an instructor in the nascent Department of Electrical Engineering and stayed until 1915. He held a bachelor’s degree in E.E. from the University of Wisconsin and came to Rice from a job with the British Columbia Electric Railway Company. Johnson never returned to industry, spending instead the rest of his career as a teacher. Here he is in a very early image, which I’ll call circa 1913, standing in front of the Mech Lab:

After the Semi-Centennial celebration in 1962 the Association of Rice Alumni awarded all the original faculty honorary alumni status, sending each a scroll with a message of gratitude. Ellis responded in a lovely and unexpected letter with gratitude of his own:

And here he is with those young men from whom he learned the joy of teaching:

Even though there have been some days when I surely did not like Rice University very much there is no question that, like Johnson, my debt is fundamental. Winding up here was truly one of the luckiest breaks of my life. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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2 Responses to My personal debt to Rice University . . . is quite fundamental,” 1963

  1. Don H. Johnson says:

    As he was one of the first EE faculty members, I decided to dig deeper. He died in 1968 in Oregon. His obituary says that he became Dean of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin and at one other unnamed university.

  2. Galloway Hudson (Wiess '60) says:

    Melissa – Can you furnish a list of those original faculty members? I think some of them may still have been teaching when I matriculated in 1956.

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