View this email in your browser
The Office of Public Affairs bimonthly measurements and metrics
February 2022
Big Stories

Rice will move Founders Memorial statue

Climate change challenges more than half of Earth’s plants

The New York Times highlights Rice’s approach to COVID-19

Media Highlights

Rice will move Founders Memorial statue

Rice’s decision to move the Founder’s Memorial statue of William Marsh Rice was lauded by the Houston Chronicle editorial board, which remarked it “should be an invitation into a conversation about our difficult history.” The editorial quoting the chairs of Rice’s Task Force on Slavery, Segregation and Racial Injustice ran not only in Houston’s daily newspaper, but also in 40 other media outlets, including the Miami Herald, the Sacramento Bee, the Winnipeg Free Press and MSN.

Climate change challenges more than half of Earth’s plants

A study based on Rice research found that 60% of all plants on Earth are already having trouble keeping up with climate change as seed-spreading species face major drops in population. As one of the first studies to gauge how the loss of birds and mammals will impact plants’ chances of adapting to climate warming, Rice ecologist Evan Fricke’s cover story in Science echoed around the world. The story generated more than 2,500 mentions of Rice in media outlets like NPR, CBC Radio, France 24, United Press International and Smithsonian magazine.

The New York Times highlights Rice’s approach to COVID-19

Rice was prominently featured in a Sunday New York Times article spotlighting universities noted for forward-thinking approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Times quoted President David Leebron as he outlined the university’s evolving strategy for confronting the coronavirus threat. In addition, after a Public Affairs media relations specialist spent hours showing a photographer around the campus, every photograph accompanying the Sunday New York Times article depicted the Rice campus.

For a full list of January and February media stars
please see the last section of this report. 
Government Relations

Government Relations rings in the new year

Government Relations rang in the new year with activities ranging from strategy setting and long-term planning to relationship building and information sharing across campus. Throughout these two months, the action has been nonstop.
We used January as a time to reconnect with colleagues on campus and our state and federal consultants to take stock of 2021 and determine where we can best place our efforts in 2022. We anticipate many challenges in the runup to the midterm elections but still see a number of things we can accomplish. With no state legislative session in Austin this year, our effort in the next few months will focus on Washington.
Among other things, we evaluated our prospects for appropriations requests with members of the Texas congressional delegation while working to determine what, if any, funding opportunities may be available for Rice in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Simultaneously, we continued monitoring and engaging on Congress’ continued push for two massive competition bills, each designed to spur American technology and innovation as China’s economy steadily ascends.
We also participated in the Association of American Universities’ annual strategic planning meeting, where there was, as always, a robust exchange of ideas and perspectives from around the country on research university priorities. If nothing else, the meeting helps us better understand the national context.
Throughout this period, we continued building new relationships and strengthening old ones. We helped fellows from the Baker Institute for Public Policy arrange introductory meetings with offices like the Texas Secretary of State, the Texas Economic Development and Tourism office and statewide associations like the Texas Healthcare and Bioscience Institute. We continued engaging with potential corporate partners in the semiconductor space with one long-term goal being possible industry-university partnerships for a variety of potential federal research funding opportunities. We also arranged a series of informal get-togethers with members of staff from several Houston area congressional delegation offices to reconnect with them early in the year and learn each office’s priorities.
Finally, we continued our coordination with the Rice Space Institute, other groups on campus and external partners to plan for September’s 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s “moon speech” at Rice Stadium. Our strategic outreach to external partners continues and our proposals have so far been enthusiastically received.
University Relations

Rice United Way campaign exceeds fundraising goal

Powered by a matching gift challenge from Rice Board of Trustees Chairman Rob Ladd ’78, the university’s annual Rice United Way campaign exceeded its $250,000 goal, placing Rice in the United Way of Greater Houston’s top-tier Chairman’s Division for institutional giving for an eighth consecutive year.
At a year-end reception thanking top campaign donors, United Way of Greater Houston President and CEO Amanda McMillian expressed the agency’s appreciation to Rice, and especially to the campaign’s honorary chair, President David Leebron, and lead donors chair, Y. Ping Sun, whose collective efforts over the last 18 years have helped Rice contribute $3.64 million to local United Way programs.
Rice United Way campaign manager Greg Marshall ’86, staff chair Susann Glenn, faculty chair Doug Natelson, United Way of Greater Houston President and CEO Amanda McMillian, lead donors chair Y. Ping Sun and honorary chair President David Leebron.

Rice participates in Martin Luther King Day Parade

Houston’s Black Heritage Society holds the distinction of hosting the nation’s very first Martin Luther King Day Parade in 1978. At the request of the slain civil rights leader’s widow, the Houston parade was organized to help build support for making King’s birthday a national holiday and to keep his dream of equal rights and opportunity alive in the public mind. In January 2022, despite COVID-19 restrictions that caused the university to eliminate a planned parade walking group of students, staff, faculty and alumni, Rice still had a presence in the 44th annual Original MLK Day Parade. University Representative Y. Ping Sun, President Leebron and Provost and President-elect Reginald DesRoches waved to the crowds from a blue-and-gray decorated convertible, followed by members of the Marching Owl Band (the MOB).
Rice’s band director Chuck Throckmorton negotiates the MOB’s protection contract with President Leebron prior to the parade.
Public Affairs videographer Brandon Martin captured this first public introduction of Rice’s first Black president in a video that is featured on the university’s YouTube channel and on the Houston Black Heritage Society website.
Creative Services

Archives of the Impossible

Creative Services provided design and editorial support to the Religion Department for a three-day conference March 3-6 on how to think about UFO phenomena.  Materials included a design of the accompanying exhibit held in Fondren Library, which included display posters of research projects and display signage. Other projects included pull-up banners, signage, programs, nametags, conference pins and T-shirts.

The conference generated wide attention with an estimated audience, both in person and online, exceeding 1,000.


Creative Services provided editing and design services for the 2021–2022 Scientia Lecture Series, which featured two speakers from the School of Architecture. Edited content was placed into the theme design of “Connections,” promoting multidisciplinary engagement. The guest speakers’ topics included “Attractive Nuisances” and “Living Spaces.”

Kazimi Lecture Series

Alireza Doostdar, associate professor of Islamic studies and the anthropology of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School, was the guest speaker at the third annual Kazimi Lecture Shi’i Studies. Creative Services designed and edited the promotional flyer as well as social media graphics for the School of Humanities.
Multicultural Community Relations

Keeping the dream alive

The Rice Black Male Leadership Initiative hosted the annual Martin Luther King Jr. vigil and program Jan. 16. The virtual event included introductory remarks by President David Leebron and closing remarks by President-elect and Provost Reginald DesRoches. About 100 Black students, staff, faculty, alumni and members of the Greater Houston community attended the event. Charlene Sadberry Tombar ’05 and Phillip Hall ’88 provided entertainment and Multicultural Community Relations (MCR) was one of the sponsors.

Architecture, writing and music for underserved students

In February, members of the K–12 Council gathered virtually for its quarterly meeting hosted by MCR. Reto Geiser, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the School of Architecture, discussed the Rice Architecture Summer Immersion program offered in collaboration with the Rice Office of STEM Engagement. The program addresses the challenges that underrepresented students face when applying to architecture school. Maya Reine, associate director for the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning, talked about the organization’s outreach efforts and its high school essay writing contest and enrichment program. A representative for Principal Alicia Gobert Lewis of Blackshear Elementary in Third Ward talked about the after-school music academy that was created for Blackshear students this school year.

Campana wows audience with presentation

Joseph Campana, the William Shakespeare Professor of English at Rice, gave a thought-provoking, inspiring lecture in the “Books That Shaped My Life” series, organized by MCR. Participants — who came from Houston, San Antonio, Seattle and Maine — shared their ideas on the importance of libraries, reading and the influence of reading on writing styles. The audience included Rice professors and staff, Campana’s former students, alumni, a prospective Rice student and his father, and members of a local writing group for senior citizens.
Marketing and Digital Communications

Visits to the homepage decreased during the Rice winter break and a short month in February. Total page views were 450,292, with visitors spending an average time of 3 minutes, 36 seconds on the site, which continues to show that they are finding the information they need.
Page views: 450,292
Average time on page: 3 minutes, 36 seconds
Bounce rate: 70.54%
As of Feb. 28, Public Affairs and the Office of Information Technology have successfully launched 258 Drupal 8 websites. On Jan. 14, 2022, Rice Magazine website launched in the Rice-branded Drupal theme, replacing the antiquated WordPress site with a new design, real-time content and a new user experience.
The two departments are also collaborating on an additional 32 new websites that have come into the Rice-branded theme. Some of the websites currently under development are: 
  • Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL)
  • Curriculum Management
  • Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
  • Environmental Science
  • Houston Methodist — Rice Center for Human Performance
  • Houston Wastewater Epidemiology
  • Human Resources
  • KnOWLedge Café (Human Resources Intranet)
  • Office of Faculty Development (OFD)
  • Research — Year In Review 2021 (Office of the Provost)
  • Rice 360°
  • Rice Emergency Medical Services
  • Strengthening Training & Resources for Inclusion in Data Engineering & Sciences (AGEP STRIDES)
  • The Chemistry of Art
  • The Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  • Vice President for Administration
Social media
Impressions: This reflects the number of times the content was seen.
Followers: This is the number of people who follow the main Rice accounts.
Engagements: This reflects the number of interactions (likes, shares, comments, clicks) on a post.

Social media channel overview for January and February:

•             Total followers across platforms: 249,178, up 3,963
•             Published 256 posts
•             3,168,858 impressions: a 4% increase from November and December
•             171,594 engagements: a 4% decrease from November and December


Total followers: 41,180, up 559
Top post: EarthCam will be disabled during Baker 13
Second-highest post: Rice student Jasmine Manansala on Jeopardy


Total Followers: 65,168
Top post: Rice announces Academic Quad redesign
Second-highest post: Rice student Jasmine Manansala on Jeopardy


Total followers: 100,297, up 1,826
Top post: Rice student Jasmine Manansala on Jeopardy
Second-highest post: New wasp species named after Valhalla



Total followers: 47,300, up 1,132
Top post: Rice student Jasmine Manansala on Jeopardy
Second-highest post: Rice announces Academic Quad redesign

Media Stars
Mark Finley, fellow in energy and global oil at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, had the highest number of media mentions — 3,723 — during January and February, mainly for comments on rising global oil prices. Below are members of the Rice community who were mentioned in the media 10 or more times during January and February.
Mark Finley 3,723
Evan Fricke 2,371
Douglas Brinkley 1,956
Ken Medlock 1,476
Gabriel Collins 746
Mark Jones 654
Leila Peyravan 607
Jeffrey Kripal 504
Jim Krane 392
Quincy Olivari 215
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen 175
Carl Pierre 154
Andrea Isella 153
Travis Evee 151
André Izidoro 149
Scott Pera 135
Matteo Pasquali 120
Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera 119
James Tour 118
Sylvia Dee 96
Jasmine Manansala 90
Elaine Howard Ecklund 84
Bill Fulton 82
Jim Blackburn 71
Daniel Cohan 59
Lesa Tran Lu 56
Tony Payan 51
Pedro Brandão-Dias 48
Scott Egan 46
Richard Stoll 46
Caleb McDaniel 43
Anna Mikulska 41
Francisco Monaldi 37
David Leebron 27
Jacob Robinson 27
Vivian Ho 26
Maria Nicanor 26
Boris Yakobson 26
Anatoly Kolomeisky 25
Alex Kutana 25
Qin-Kun Li 25
José Cruz Jr. 24
Bob Stein 23
James Elliott 20
Caleb Kemere 20
Neal Lane 19
Weiyin Chen 18
Bing Deng 18
Carter Kittrell 18
Dan Bolger 17
Robert Ladd 17
Utpal Dholakia 15
Anna Rajagopal 15
Reginald DesRoches 13
Scott Solomon 13
Anthony Pinn 12
Doug Natelson 11
Talia Andris 10
Kayla Bierman 10
The chart below shows Rice’s media mentions since 2007. The green column reflects the number of mentions through Feb. 28, 2022.
Copyright © 2022 Rice University, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.