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Issue No. 5—Fall 2012
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A Message from the Dean of Undergraduates

Dear Parents and Family Members,

The new academic year has gotten off to an amazing start. By all reports, O-Week was a great success, culminating in the Welcome Back Festival and Concert on the Saturday before classes.

Our new Program in Writing and Communications launched this August with the opening of the Center for Written, Visual and Oral Communication (the Center), located in a beautiful new space in Fondren Library. The Center will offer a staff of communication experts and peer communication consultants to help students develop skills and refine their work. All new students this year will take a First-Year Writing Intensive Seminar in either the fall or the spring. These courses introduce our new students to the excitement and rigor of Rice’s intellectual community and offer a wide range of topics to expose students to the diversity of our curriculum. Of the students taking the seminar this fall, more than 85 percent received their first or second choice of seminars.

This year’s Common Reading Program featured “Whistling Vivaldi,” by professor Claude Steele from Stanford University. The book describes the social and psychological consequences of stereotypes. During O-Week, new students participated in small group discussions led by faculty and peer facilitators, and Steele visited Rice during the first week of classes to meet with students and present a public lecture on his research.

The biggest news of the coming semester, of course, is the Centennial Celebration Oct. 10–14. The plans for the celebration, which coincides with Rice Homecoming & Reunion 2012, include an academic procession and centennial address by President Leebron, as well as a series of TED-style lectures featuring Chief Justice John Roberts and four other world-renowned scholars and visionaries. Campus picnics and spectacular evening events, amongst other plans, round out the celebrations. Parents and families are all warmly invited to join in this landmark event in Rice’s history. Keep an eye on Rice’s centennial website for announcements.

Rice’s student experience is built around the strength of student leadership. Once again this year, I am fortunate to have a talented group of leaders to work with closely on issues of importance to the student body and to the campus as a whole. I look forward to the year with your kids.

John Hutchinson
Dean of Undergraduates