Rice ranks high in university surveysBuried in today's front page story on UT-Austin's newly crowned status as the nation's #1 party school is some really heartening news for Rice and Houston, based on a survey by Princeton Review.
Those are some powerhouse rankings that will help Rice attract the more nationally-diverse student body they're aiming for, as well has help keep up the quality of admits as they grow the student body over the next few years. Rice also made the most recent Newsweek list of "America's 25 New Elite 'Ivies'":
Meanwhile, Houston's Rice University was taking full credit for its ranking: No. 1 in the nation for best quality of life. The designation is based on students' opinions of campus beauty, safety, location and their overall happiness and dealings with the administration.
"Between those two rankings, I'll take ours," said Rice President David Leebron.
The ranking is a coup for Houston, a sprawling urban behemoth whose heat, humidity, traffic and aversion to zoning have consistently landed it at the bottom of quality-of-life surveys measuring everything from fitness to ease of driving around town.
Rice students have long enjoyed the campus' elegant architecture, its proximity to Hermann Park and the museum district, what Leebron calls an "idyllic oasis in the center of the nation's fourth largest city."
But he said university officials have been working harder to acquaint students with the rest of Houston, even taking hundreds of students to the opera and the symphony.
"Very few universities can offer the quality of life that being in a city the size of Houston offers with a campus that has almost as many trees as students," Leebron said.
The private school's intimate setting, with an undergraduate population of just 2,900, helped it achieve other top rankings: No. 3 for best overall undergraduate academic experience and No. 1 for interaction between students of different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Rice University , Houston, TexasI've noted before Rice's great web site promoting Houston. The new president, David Leebron, came from Columbia University, and just as Columbia leverages its NYC location for all it's worth in recruiting and educating students, he wants to take the same strategy with Rice and Houston. The extra benefit for Houston is not only recruiting great students and faculty to Rice, but if they have a deeper experience with the city of Houston while they're here, they're more likely to stay after they graduate and contribute to Houston's talent base.
Although Rice is located just three miles from downtown Houston, the 300-acre campus is pastoral. The private university's nine residential colleges were inspired by Oxford and give students an opportunity to belong to a more intimate group. Each college has a "faculty master" selected by students, other masters and the president. The emphasis on student-faculty interaction is echoed in the classroom, where the median class size is 15. Many students like the fact that Rice has Division I sports, including a top baseball team. About 40 percent of students double-major, often pairing economics with engineering or political science. Overlap schools: Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Duke.
Update: A Chronicle archives article on Rice's program of getting students involved in city service projects. More ties to Houston means a higher likelihood of staying after graduation.