Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rice ranks high in university surveys

Buried 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.

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.

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'":
Rice University , Houston, Texas
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.
I'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.

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.


At 7:11 PM, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go Rice! Let's get some attractive jobs to keep those smarties here in Houston.

At 3:30 PM, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you use suspect sources in your anti-zoning, anti-mass transit posts, but the fact that you're using a source whose most talked about poll is "best party school" is pretty sad.

There is a reason no one cares about the Princeton Review rankings... because they're useless. At least US News has a methodology that keeps schools in similar positions year after year.

By the way, did you look up how Princeton Review conducts its poll? It takes polls from students. That's like the presidential approval rating being decided by his cabinet.

Here's the most important story no one is talking about:

UT regents OK projects for Houston center, M.D. Anderson

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

ARLINGTON — The University of Texas System's regents approved today a $1.6 billion spending plan for more than two dozen construction projects, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and health care.

The move comes after the board approved $1 billion in new buildings over the past year, including a $280 million expansion of the Alkek Hospital at UT's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, which was approved last month. Taken together, officials said the construction plan is the largest investment in the university system's 125-year history and should help the state compete worldwide.

"This is the most profoundly important contribution we can make to thestate of Texas in a globally competitive economy," said Mark Yudof, chancellor of the UT system, which includes nine universities and six health institutions.

Under the plan, the UT Health Science Center at Houston will add three buildings, with an estimated total price tag of more than $222 million. The projects include a replacement for a 50-year-old dental building and a new facility for stem cell research.

M.D. Anderson also will receive $70 million to build a center for therapy research.

System-wide the projects should be completed within four years, Yudof said.

At 4:18 PM, August 24, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Ouch. I think all three (or really four) of those rankings are reasonable to derive from a survey of students. If the rankings were highest quality research or best education, I would agree with you.

I do agree the new UT projects are big news.


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