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Dear Rice Parents and Families:

We are busy at Rice this summer preparing for the start of the new academic year and the arrival of the entering class of new students in August. Preparing for Orientation Week is a major endeavor involving literally hundreds of students. Led by our Student Director of Orientation Ginny Johnson, a team of college O-Week coordinators is meeting weekly throughout the summer and spending their evenings preparing introductions, organizing materials, and planning social and cultural programming and other fun events. About 500 returning students will be back on campus a week before O-Week starts to prepare themselves and their colleges. Welcoming our new students is a signature activity for Rice, and our students do it better than anyone else. My thanks go to Shelah Crear, director of First Year Programs, and Chris Landry, assistant director, for their dedication and creativity in guiding our students through this process.

The past year was one of extraordinary accomplishments for our students, and many of these are discussed in this newsletter. I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight a truly unique recognition for two of our distinguished faculty, Rebecca Richards-Kortum and Maria Oden, winners of the 2013 $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation. Richards-Kortum and Oden won the award in honor of their life-saving inventions and pioneering efforts to inspire and lead Rice students to invent and deliver low-cost technological innovations to improve health care for people in developing nations through the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health Technologies and its hands-on engineering education program Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB).

BTB engages Rice students in research and design projects to solve global health problems with inexpensive technology. Even more remarkably, these faculty members donated their prize money toward the construction of a new neonatal nursery at BTB’s partner hospital in Malawi, where many of the student-designed inventions have been implemented.

Richards-Kortum and Oden may be the best of the best, but BTB is but one of many, many ways in which Rice students can use their time and education at Rice to get involved in significant local, national or global societal issues. These opportunities are not at all limited to engineering and science students. Many of the BTB projects are led by social scientists and humanists. And there are wide-ranging opportunities in such service-learning programs as the Program in Poverty, Justice and Human Capabilities or in the Community Bridges program, just to name two.

Rice offers excellent course work, but a Rice education is much more than these courses. And our Rice students are much more than classroom learners. They are innovators and up-and-coming leaders.

I encourage you to learn about the service-learning and leadership opportunities at Rice — some of which are covered in this newsletter — and to discuss these with your students as a way to get the most out of their Rice education and to make meaningful change in the world.

With best wishes,

 Dean Hutchinson Signature 

John S. Hutchinson, Dean of Undergraduates

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